Mel Stewart named Steamboat’s fire chief |

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Mel Stewart named Steamboat’s fire chief

Mel Stewart

Stewart raising money for Parkinson’s disease

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart had planned to ride next month’s eight-day, 485-mile Cape Epic mountain bike race that weaves through towns in South Africa, but he wanted it to mean something.

After his father, Moody Stewart, passed away in October 2010 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for 10 years, Stewart saw an opportunity.

“This is such a big event,” he said. “I’d like to do it for a reason. My father passed away last year. I thought I’d do it in memory of him.”

The race starts March 25. After a 15-mile prologue, the 1,200 riders in teams of two will climb 5,200 feet during seven 50- to 90-mile stages through towns in South Africa. Stewart is riding with longtime friend and former Steamboat resident Craig Russell, who now lives in Denver.

He leaves March 14 to continue his training and get acclimated to the heat. Stewart’s wife, Jen le Roux, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, and their two daughters will join him shortly after.

Stewart is raising money for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation in connection with the race. He said proceeds will benefit Parkinson’s research and education for people with the disease or those who care for them. He’s about $1,800 to his $5,000 fundraising goal. Stewart said in addition to cash donations he has received, Wells Fargo has donated mountain bike jerseys and shorts and money to help cover expenses, and Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare has donated Hammer Nutrition products. To make a donation, visit http://support.pd…