WINTERSPORTS -- Rudis Kadzejs of Valleyford, Wash., with 210 solo runs, and another 109 skiers going solo or in teams last weekend, skied their hearts out in the 24 Hours of Schweitzer and raised more than $100,000 for cystinosis research.
The annual marathon downhill event and auction is one of the largest cystinosis fundraisers in the country, bringing the 24 Hours for Hank Foundation’s fundraising total to more than $725,000 in six years.
More than 110 skiers and snowboarders ages 5 to 73 from Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Moscow, Tri-Cities and around the region, and as far away as Washington, D.C., Arkansas, Iowa, California, Oregon and Colorado took to the slopes for the round-the-clock relay. The ride a chair up and ski down, over and over.
Young skiers took center stage at the March 21-22 benefit, setting four new records at the sixth-annual event. Leading the charge in the “Endurance” division was Team Gnar Gnar Norwhals of Sandpoint, who took first place in the four-person team category with 699 runs, besting their performance last year by 108 runs. The team, whose members are all under age 15, is the youngest ever to earn the top award in the four-person team category.
Sandpoint's Catherine Brenner, who turned 14 the day of the finish, tied for second in the solo division with 208 runs. She is the youngest participant ever to place among the top three in the solo categor.
Read on for more details and ALL the results:
Newcomer Rudis Kadzejs's first-place solo title with 210 runs was followed closely by Catherine Brenner of Sandpoint and Collin Davis of Altadena, Calif., who tied for second with 208 runs.
In the relay-team category, Team All For Hank of Sandpoint placed first with 217 runs and finished as the event’s top team fundraiser with a record $14,607 in pledges. Matt Gillis, who skied with Team All For Hank instead of as a solo participant this year, was the event’s top individual fundraiser for the fourth straight year after raising $13,347.
In the new “Challenge” division, where points were awarded based on total minutes skied and hourly challenges completed, Team Hank E Panky of Coeur d’Alene earned first place honors in the four-person team category after completing all 24 challenges and raising $9,600. In the three-person team category, Team Peace of Mind of Spokane took first place after completing all 24 challenges.
For the second year in a row, Kjetil Lund, age 11 of Sandpoint, set a new record as the top finisher of kids 12 and under, logging 167 runs and exceeding his performance last year by 34 runs. Slate Fragoso, age 9 of Sandpoint who completed 136 runs, set a new fundraising record for kids under 15, raising $8,150. Other standouts included Sandpoint brothers Crosby and Calvin Schmidt, who skied 98 runs combined and together raised $1,981 toward the cause. Making their third appearance at the event were reporters Mark Peterson and Robyn Nance from KXLY-TV in Spokane, whose team raised $1,000.
Participants enjoyed sunny skies and a clear night during the 24-hour ski relay, including the rare treat of watching the sun rise over Lake Pend Oreille while skiing atop Schweitzer Mountain.
“We continue to be amazed by the skill, endurance and spirit of participants young and old and their unwavering dedication to the cause. We’d like to thank everyone who helped create another amazing event – participants and their families, donors, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, area businesses, local media, Schweitzer Mountain Resort and its employees, and our family and friends,” said Brian Sturgis, Hank’s dad and one of the event organizers. “Hank and others nationwide are directly benefiting from donations raised locally, which have helped fund new cystinosis treatments already in use. We’re making remarkable progress in our journey towards a cure, thanks in large part to the ongoing support of the Sandpoint community.”
The ski event concluded with an auction, dinner and awards party attended by 230 people. Many were dressed in cowboy costumes to celebrate the event’s “Cowboy UP for a Cure” theme. Nearly 150 leading businesses and individuals from Sandpoint and around the area contributed to the auction dinner and awards party, including more than 125 live and silent auction items and prizes donated for the event.
The annual fundraiser was held in honor of seven-year-old Hank Sturgis of Sandpoint, who has the rare, fatal disease cystinosis that affects only 500 people nationwide. All money raised benefits 24 Hours for Hank, a Sandpoint foundation established to raise money for cystinosis research and treatment. Since 2008, more than $725,000 has been raised locally for the national Cystinosis Research Foundation to help find a cure for this extremely rare, genetic disease that slowly destroys every organ in the body including the kidneys, liver, eyes, muscles, thyroid and brain. The Cystinosis Research Foundation is 100 percent underwritten, so all fundraising goes directly to research.
- Donations are still being accepted and can be made online or via the mail. Info: (208) 610-2131.
2014 Stats and Award Winners
Total Participants: 111 (28 women; 83 men; includes 18 youth under age 10)
Total Teams: 30
Total Solo Participants: 13
Most Runs Solo:
- First Place: Rudis Kadzejs of Valleyford, Wash., who completed 210 runs
- Second Place (Tie): Catherine Brenner (age 14) of Sandpoint, and Collin Davis of Altadena, Calif., who both completed 208 runs (new record for youngest top 3 award winner)
Most Runs Four-Person Team:
- First Place: Team Gnar Gnar Norwhals, which completed 699 runs. Team members included Finan Lund, Peik Lund, Noah Hastings and Max Edmundson of Sandpoint. (all under age 15) (new record for youngest first place team)
- Second Place: Team Fiji, which completed 394 runs. Team members included Charles Ford, Eric Hofferber, Nicholas Bontrager and Taylor Konewko of the University of Idaho, Moscow.
- Third Place: Team Cream Team, which completed 315 runs. Team members included Noah Stanley, Nathan Stanley, Dave Stanley and Dave Sturgis of Spokane and Sandpoint.
Most Runs Relay Team: (one timing chip per team)
- First Place: Team All For Hank, which completed 217 runs. Team members included Matt Gillis, Eric Jensen, Eric Frickle and Cody Lile of Spokane and Sandpoint.
- Second Place: Team Alpine Shop, which completed 209 runs. Team members included Brent Eacret, Rick Chattum, Casey Marine and Billy Woodall of Sandpoint.
CHALLENGE CATEGORY (new this year)
- First Place: Team Hank E Panky. Team members included Rick Knott, Jeremy Deming, Mark Hammon and Wade Jacklin of Coeur d’Alene.
- Second Place: Team BAAM. Team members included Amber Roberts, Andy Gion, Matt Williams and Brent Otter of Sandpoint and Bentonville, Ark.
- Third Place: Team Hair of the Dog. Team members included Duffy Mahoney, Jason Nees, Chris Blanford and Birch Rose of Sandpoint and Seattle.
- First Place: Team Peace of Mind, which completed 24 challenges. Team members included Jason Lewis, Justin Wilson and Christine Green of Spokane.
- Second Place: Team Ski Hawks, which completed 20 challenges. Team members included Carson Eggland, Chauncy Eggland and Logan Sandborn of Iowa City, Iowa, and Sandpoint
- Third Place: Smiles for Miles, which completed 18 challenges. Team members included Shea Kilpatrick, Zeya Martin and Chloe Pecha of Sandpoint.
Top Individual Fundraiser (Adult):
- First Place: Matt Gillis of Sandpoint, who raised $13,347
- Second Place: Collin Davis, of Altadena, Calif, who raised $6,131
- Third Place: Carson Eggland, of Iowa City, Iowa, who raised $4,176
Top Individual Fundraiser (Youth):
- First Place: Slate Fragoso, age 9 of Sandpoint, who raised $8,150 (new record)
- Second Place: Crosby Schmidt, age 7 of Sandpoint, who raised $1,103
- Third Place: Calvin Schmidt, age 5 of Sandpoint, who raised $878
Top Team Fundraiser:
- First Place: Team All For Hank, which raised $14,607. Team members included Matt Gillis, Eric Jensen, Eric Frickle and Cody Lile of Sandpoint. (new record)
- Second Place: Team Hank E Panky, which raised $9,600. Team members included Rick Knott, Jeremy Deming, Mark Hammon and Wade Jacklin of Coeur d’Alene.
- Third Place: Team Mile High Mayhem, which raised $6,665. Team members included Sam Timmons, Charlie Timmons, Brian Timmons and Sanner Timmons of Highlands Ranch, Colo. (all under age 10)
Most Runs – Kids 12 and Under:
- First Place: Kjetil Lund, age 11 of Sandpoint, with 167 runs (new record)
- Second Place: Slate Fragoso, age 9 of Sandpoint, with 136 runs
- Third Place: Crosby Schmidt, age 7 of Sandpoint, with 73 runs
Youngest Male Participant: Calvin Schmidt, age 5 of Sandpoint, who completed 25 runs
Youngest Female Participant: Berkeley Cox, age 7 of Sandpoint, who participated in the Challenge category
Oldest Participant: Doug Cameron, age 73, of Sandpoint
Best Costume: Kasten Grimm of Sandpoint (youth); Laura Randall of Spokane (adult)
Number of Volunteers: 56
Major Sponsors: Major sponsors include Subaru of America, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, TraskBritt Law Firm, Simulstat Incorporated, Litehouse Foods, EzyDog, Six Star Automotive, Centennial Distribution, Pita Pit, Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, Noodle Express, Rockstar, Powder Hound Pizza, Pucci’s Pub, Alpine Shop, Sports Creel, Bonner General Hospital and Odom Distribution.