Ski 4 Parkinson’s Disease fundraiser stretches to 9-day event at Haymaker Nordic Center |

Ski 4 Parkinson’s Disease fundraiser stretches to 9-day event at Haymaker Nordic Center

The Ski 4 PD or Ski for Parkinson's Disease fundraiser is spread out across nine days rather than one to allow for social distancing. Registrants can ski at Haymaker Nordic Center from Saturday to Jan. 31, and the raffle and costume prizes will be decided on Jan. 31. (Yampa Valley Parkinson Support Network/courtesy)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Having grown each year and being the sole fundraiser for the Yampa Valley Parkinson Support Network, it was vital that the annual Ski 4 PD, or Ski for Parkinson’s Disease, event at Haymaker Nordic Center find a COVID-friendly format.

This year, rather than bringing in hundreds of people for one day, the fundraiser will now stretch over nine days, from Saturday to Jan. 31, to allow for appropriate social distancing.

“We did not want to lose the momentum that this event has brought to the Parkinson’s community in the Yampa Valley,” said Marty O’Leary, Yampa Valley Parkinson Support Network board president. “We hoped that with this format we could still bring awareness to Parkinson’s and support to our community.”

The Yampa Valley Parkinson Support Network sets a fundraising goal of $25,000 each year, which covers the expense of all the classes hosted for those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. All the money raised stays within the Yampa Valley. Coming up on the opening weekend of the event, the network has raised about 20% of that goal.

The heart of the fundraiser will be the same: spending time on the snow with friends whether that’s on skis, snowshoes or fat bikes. While that group of friends will have to be smaller and separated from other groups, the sense of companionship and community coming together to support a common cause will remain.

Each year the event has a theme, with this year’s being “Mask-ski-rade,” a clever spin on the fact that masks and skis have become a new classic pairing this winter.

“I wanted to go along with what’s been happening in our world right now and perhaps bring fun to something that is very purposeful,” O’Leary said. “I don’t know where it came from. I was just like, oh, we’ll have a ‘mask-ski-rade.’”

Going along with the theme, all participants will receive a Ski 4 PD neck gaiter upon check-in.

Costumes are encouraged, and the fundraising team with the best costumes can win a prize, which will be announced in a post-event newsletter.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that effects about 1 million people in the United States and 10 million worldwide, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

A loss of brain cells that create dopamine create symptoms that mostly pertain to motion such as a tremor, loss of balance or change in gait or limb rigidity.

There is no cure, but there are therapies that have shown to improve symptoms.

The band-accompanied brunch will not take place this year, which was a beloved part of the fundraiser. Typically, raffle drawings took place during brunch but will instead go virtual this year.

Raffle tickets are not limited to those who ski. Often those who don’t ski support the fund by purchasing tickets for the prize packages that are full of locally-donated goods and gift cards.

“We do have 21 drawings, all donations from the community, which is incredible, especially this year,” O’Leary said.

The Ski 4 PD or Ski for Parkinson's Disease fundraiser at Haymaker Nordic Center is spread out over nine days rather than one to allow for social distancing. The Yampa Valley Parkinson Support Network has a goal of $25,000 to fund the daily classes they offer. (Courtesy YVPSN)

Tickets and full details on the prizes can be found at Some of the prizes include a two-night stay at a yurt at Pearl Lake State Park, a free horseback ride at Del’s Triangle Three Ranch or a half-day tour with Snowbuddy Dog Sled Tours.

The virtual drawing will take place at around 2 p.m. Jan. 31. Winners will be contacted and prizes will be delivered or shipped within the next week.

O’Leary hopes the event is a success this year. The fundraiser has grown from 50 to about 200 people over recent years, allowing the daily classes that the network offers to expand. It’s hard to say exactly how many people are positively affected by the programs that the network puts together.

“That’s a difficult number to pinpoint,” she said. “Because there’s no way of knowing how many people are affected by Parkinson’s.”

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