Life on the Mountain
24 Hours of Sun Valley
In 2008, Brian Sturgis’s young son, Hank, was suffering from a rare and incurable disease known as Cystinosis for which he had to take medicine every six hours, every day just to slow down the disease. This medicine also completely dehydrated him, forcing him to drink a couple of gallons of water a day to compensate.
When brainstorming a way to fundraise for this rare and incurable that affects only 500 people (mainly children) in the entire country, Brian and his friends asked themselves, “Hank has to do this all day, every day, 24 hours a day…what can we do for 24 hours?”
That summer a biannual 24-Hour Bike Race in Sandpoint was born, and the next winter, 24 Hours of Schweitzer followed. Every year since then, Brian has hosted 24 Hours of Schweitzer on the snowy hills of Northern Idaho’s favorite resort and raised almost $400,000 for the 24 Hours for Hank Foundation. And the money raised has gone on to be a part of the groundbreaking development of a new medication that has to be taken only every 12 hours, rather than every six. 100% of the fundraising done by 24 Hours for Hank went to the Cystinosis Research Foundation who worked to develop the groundbreaking drug. Brian says, “Often times you give and you hope that it helps something or someone, but with this, we are seeing direct and obvious results.”
That’s pretty impressive for 24 straight hours of skiing.
And that is where Sun Valley comes in. After three years of hosting wildly successful 24 Hours of Schweitzer’s, with over 150 participants each year, some as young as seven and some as old as 75, getting into the all day action, Brian and 24 Hours of Hank are coming to Sun Valley’s very own Dollar Mountain.
Hank greets participants and checks out the course. (Courtesy photos.)
Now our local ski, snowboard and tele-enthusiasts have the chance to help Hank and the 500 other American children affected by Cystinosis and take part in Sun Valley’s very first annual 24-hour race which is one of only three events of its kind in this country. Yes, it’s official, 24 Hours of Sun Valley is here.
Lights will be hoisted. Lifts will be running through sunset, sunrise and beyond. Carol’s Dollar Lodge will be set up as the team staging area. And teams of four, teams of three or singles will be skiing and boarding throughout the day and night. If you need more motivation than raising money for a great cause and skiing Dollar Mountain above the Wood River Valley at sunset, prizes will be awarded to the Solo Participant with the Most Runs, the Team with the Most Runs and to the Top Fundraiser (Pledges can be made to a racer on a per run basis and there are rumors of some super sweet, one-of-a-kind belt buckles for prizes!).
Skiing is often a selfish pleasure. One in which the most important act is getting to the bottom faster, prettier or cooler than the next guy. It is often about our own singular connection with the mountains, the snow, the cool air…Sure, we all love it the same, we all sit on the chair together, we fall the same and essentially all look the same, but at the end of an epic powder day in the Bowls or a bluebird, corduroy day, it is the stories of our own best run that we are telling. I’m betting that at the end of 24 Hours of Sun Valley, and in honor of Hank, the stories will be a little different. This day of skiing will be about more than just our own one best run.
Participants at last year's 24 Hours of Schweitzer braved 24 Hours of snow for Hank! (Courtesy photos.)
The event takes place March 23rd and 24th on Dollar Mountain, beginning and ending at 10:00. An auction and awards party will follow in Sun Valley’s Limelight Room. More information about the race, about Cystinosis and about 24 Hours for Hank can be found at 24hoursofsunvalley.com. You can also check out the 24 Hours of Sun Valley Facebook page.