The lift lines at Breckenridge Ski Resort were more colorful than usual on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Among the helmets, goggles, scarves and other gear were bright boas with pink, red and sparkly feathers. Fluffy pink tutus, worn over ski pants and jackets, ruffled in the wind.
Beginners and experts alike descended on Breckenridge for the ninth annual Hope on the Slopes event. The fundraiser raises money and awareness for the American Cancer Society, which in turn donates money to cancer research.
On average, there are about 200 participants at Breckenridge raising around $50,000 annually, said Charlene Piercy, executive director for Hope on the Slopes, Great West Division of the American Cancer Society. In 2013, the event raised $250,000 total nationwide. This year, organizers set their goal at $300,000.
Participants sign up ahead of time, either as teams — groups of family members, friends and co-workers — or as individuals. Each person then conducts his or her fundraising through the Hope on the Slopes website, which features a personal page, including a picture of the person and a place to write a personal story.
Out on the slopes, competition abounds, from the most money raised to the most vertical feet skied during the day. Costumes are encouraged, and skiers and riders also wear paper bibs, identifying them as Hope on the Slopes participants and displaying the amount of money raised and the names of the people they are skiing for.
New this year was the remembrance run. At 3:20 p.m. participants met at the base of Quicksilver and came down the slope in a giant slalom line. The event also included a closing ceremony and after-party at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Breckenridge.
Dave Ludwig of Tacoma, Wash., was the mind behind the first Hope on the Slopes event in 2003, held at White Pass in Washington. Ludwig, who lost his father to cancer, is an avid skier and pitched his idea to the American Cancer Society board of directors as being similar to the Relay for Life summer event.
“His idea was, we’re out here doing this and there are not a lot of people that can be out here doing this who are suffering from cancer, and there are so many people who want to do something and he thought skiing, what a great way to get people out there, have people talk to other people about how cancer affects everybody,” said Piercy.
It’s also something the whole family can do together, she added. “There are so may young kids that ski, there are so many variety of ages that ski, and families, and we’re a family friendly event, (and) we want to bring awareness to everybody we can.”
Hope on the Slopes is not limited to Colorado; events take place this year in Alaska, California, New York, Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts.
The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 in New York City, by a mix of doctors and businessmen, as the American Society for the Control of Cancer. The name was changed in 1945. According to the organization’s website, the American Cancer Society counts $1 billion in resources annually, which are used to fund research and search for a cure.