Skaters circle for autism

Saturday fundraiser to benefit Yampa Valley programs

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If you go

What: Skate-a-thon for Yampa Valley Autism Program

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Howelsen Ice Arena

Packets for fundraising were distributed at local schools. Participants are encouraged to bring their own skates if they have them, and the ice arena is providing free skate rental to anyone who needs it.

The program requests children be at least 3 years old, and parents are encouraged to skate with their children.

Steamboat Springs skaters are ready to slide circles around themselves for the second annual skate-a-thon to benefit the Yampa Valley Autism Program, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

LuEtta Loeber, executive director of the program, said the skate party is the biggest fundraiser for the group, netting $8,930 last year. Students collect pledges based on the number of laps they are willing to skate, and their donors pay 50 cents per lap.

"The reason we're so proud of this is that it involves kids in our community," Loeber said. "I want this to be our signature fundraiser."

Loeber said the group plans to continue the fundraiser every April, during National Autism Month, as one of two major fundraisers the group operates every year to sustain respite care and therapy camp programs.

Students received donation packets at schools and have been collecting funds for weeks.

Last year, Grant Verploeg bagged the top prize with $1,200 raised. He said he's doing even better this year.

Grant, 12, was one of more than 75 students who skated around the track for 2.5 hours during last year's fundraiser.

Antonio Marxuach skated continuously last year and earned the award for the most laps, although organizers lost track of how many circuits he made.

The second-place winners of Ryan Cagnoni and Ryan Walker each skated 365 laps.

Loeber said she was anxious about how much money can be raised in the economic recession, but based on the enthusiasm from participants, she isn't too worried.

"We had one young girl who had either her sixth or seventh birthday party, and she brought the whole birthday party to the event. Instead of gifts, they gave donations," she said. "Regardless of other fundraisers, this is the one we're going to try to keep."

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