There were Mad Hatters, Queens of Hearts, White Rabbits and even a Caterpillar. And of course, Alice was there, too.
This year’s Colorado Ski for Women theme of “Alice in Winterland,” a play on Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” was evident as the participants donned costumes depicting their favorite characters Sunday at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.
All proceeds from the ninth annual Nordic skiing and snowshoeing event benefited Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, a Steamboat Springs organization that provides services for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault and education for local students.
Anyone who made a donation was allowed to participate, and a gift bag that included a pair of SmartWool socks was given to those who gave $20. Starbucks, Alpine Bank and TCD Inc. sponsored the event. Other local businesses donated door prizes and silent auction items and Sundog performed live music.
Advocates Director Diane Moore said the $3,850 raised Sunday would fund a new program that provides supervision during visitation for families in high-conflict situations. Moore said proceeds also would help pay for a peer education program for Routt County high school students and seventh-graders. The program includes an outdoor excursion in May.
The Colorado Ski for Women event also serves another purpose, Moore said.
“The awareness in some ways is as important, if not more important, to let the community know we’re here,” she said.
Dressed in a sequined maroon dress and wearing a tiara — and cross-country skis — Steamboat resident Sheila Wright said she’s participated in Colorado Ski for Women in each of the event’s nine years.
“I think it’s really important,” she said. “We need to bring sexual assault and domestic abuse to the forefront and not hide it. … People need to be aware of it. Advocates is a great organization to support, but I wish we didn’t have to do this.”
Resident Shirl Cox, dressed as the White Rabbit — complete with ears, a fluffy tail sticking out from under a black suit jacket and a pocket watch — said it was the first time she participated in the event. Walking with friend Mary Helprin, who were both snowshoeing, Cox said she wanted to support a good cause.
“I like to support our friends and neighbors,” she said. “This is fun, and we get to dress up.”
New this year was a 10K Nordic skiing time trial that preceded the non-competitive 5K skiing and snowshoeing event.
Moore said men have participated in years past, but this year’s Colorado Ski for Women encouraged more males to come out with the slogan, “Real Men Ski for Women.”
Steamboat resident John Thrasher said he’s participated almost every year.
“It’s just a fun way to come out and support a good cause — Advocates, ” he said. “Mostly, it’s just a good time and another excuse to go skiing, as if anybody needs an excuse.”
Steamboat Ski Touring Center owner Birgitta Lindgren came up with the idea for the Advocates fundraiser after a friend started the event in Alaska. She said the costume theme was added a few years into the event.
“It’s fun to see everyone have a good time and we hope to do good for the community,” she said.
The Ski Touring Center awarded a season family pass to residents Marchele and Tim McCarthy, dressed as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and their 5-month-old daughter Emiline, who was dressed as the White Rabbit, for having the best costumes.
Last year’s Colorado Ski for Women event raised about $6,000 for Advocates, and Moore was hoping for a similar result this year. But the event’s turnout dipped to 70 from about 150 last year.
Despite not raising as much money as last year, Moore said she was pleased with Sunday’s event. She added that a decrease in proceeds wouldn’t affect the programs that Advocates plans to provide.
“It just means that I have to find it another way,” Moore said.