Granby " Skiing his way to the South American jungle
March 6, 2008
A young local skier raced all 42 kilometers of the Snow Mountain Stampede’s cross-country ski marathon last Saturday because he not only loves the sport, he also wanted to do it for a good cause.
Sam Elliott, a 14-year-old from Grand Lake, completed the 42K freestyle-technique race held at the YMCA of the Rockies near Granby. He skied its challenging course in a time of 3:27:38 to take first place in his age group. It was his first-ever ski marathon.
“It was pretty tough, especially the second lap, but I did it,” Elliott said.
An avid cross-country skier since he was 2 years old, Elliott is now an eighth-grader and a member of East Grand Middle School’s Nordic ski team.
“Sam has always loved endurance sports like Nordic skiing,” said his mother Kate Elliott. “He’s always had the goal in mind for some time of doing the Stampede.”
While he has long wanted to challenge himself by doing his first ski marathon, Elliot did this year’s Stampede for an even more important reason. He did it to help raise money so that he can participate in a medical mission by “Feed the Children International” to the South American nation of Bolivia this summer.
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“When I heard about the Feed the Children’s medical mission, I wanted to go because it’s great way to help some poor people who really need it,” Elliott said. “And I’ve never been outside this country, and I thought it would be really cool to see a foreign country and a different way of life.”
Elliott will be traveling to Bolivia in June. He will be part of a 55-member “Feed the Children International” team that will be working for two weeks in a jungle area on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains. He will be accompanied by his adult cousin and his cousin’s wife, who have gone on previous medical missions with that nonprofit relief organization.
To become part of the Bolivia medical mission, Elliott had to find a way to raise $2,500 to pay for his travel expenses. That’s when he came up with the idea of asking friends and community members to help him by pledging a certain amount of money if he completed the 42K ski marathon.
“I sent out 40 letters and went around to businesses,” Elliot said. “I got over a hundred donors and $1,500 in pledges before the race. Even my little brother pledged $4.20 toward my trip to Bolivia.”
Having gotten the pledges, he knew that he had to get to the finish line in last Saturday’s Stampede to redeem them, but it wasn’t easy.
“The first 21-kilometer lap was OK because the snow was good,” Elliott said. “Joe Nesvara, my waxing coach, waxed my skis and they were really good for the first lap.
But then the temperatures warmed up and it got hot in the afternoon. The snow turned to slush and it was slow skiing after that.”
Having made it to the finish line and securing the $1,500 in pledged donations, Elliott still has to find another $1,000 to make possible his trip to Bolivia.
“I want to thank all those generous people and businesses who already pledged money for my trip,” he said. “I hope to raise some more money by contacting some local charitable organizations. I’m also going to be working to get some more of the money.”