STARS Mountain Challenge returns for third year | SteamboatToday.com

STARS Mountain Challenge returns for third year

STARS set to host second-largest annual fundraiser

Austin Colbert

Sit skier Abby Farrell makes her way down the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area in 2014. This weekend's third annual STARS Mountain Challenge is a fundraiser to help support Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports programs in Steamboat Springs.

— Alana Nichols broke her back snowboarding more than 15 years ago, and ever since, has repeatedly redefined what it means to do the impossible.

Paralyzed below mid-thigh, Nichols has become a superstar in the adaptive sports world. She was the first American female to win gold medals in both the summer and winter Olympic Games, winning in wheelchair basketball in Beijing in 2008 and adaptive Alpine skiing in Vancouver in 2010.

"I love to support these adaptive programs because of what an impact it made on my life and how it's definitely changing other people's lives, as well," Nichols said. "The big idea, really, is turning the impossible into the possible. I think that's really all about perspective."

Nichols will be the keynote speaker Friday at the kickoff party for the third annual STARS Mountain Challenge, one of the largest fundraisers for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports. Open to the public, the 7 p.m. event costs $35 and will be held at the Strings Music Pavilion.

The theme is "making the impossible possible."

"It will just be a neat evening," event director Todd Gollnick said. "We've got about a dozen celebrity athletes who will all be at that event, as well."

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Among the other guests this year are Paralympic athletes Tyler Carter, Jasmin Bambur and Monica Bascio, as well as former National Football League player and coach Tim Krumrie, a Steamboat Springs resident.

A ticket to Friday's kickoff party will afford attendees the chance to mingle and get photos with these special guests. Beer and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and the event will also include a silent auction benefiting STARS. Local music duo Chamberlin Birch will perform.

Nichols will be on-hand to talk about her life as a Paralympic athlete, including her recent move to San Diego to pursue kayaking and other water-based sports.

"I recently learned how to surf," Nichols said. "I'm hugely passionate about adaptive skiing and want to do everything I can to help raise money for the program."

The challenge portion of the event takes place Saturday at Steamboat Ski Area. Teams will compete in an on-mountain scavenger hunt throughout the day, where they will earn points and compete for prizes. Each team will be led by a celebrity or Olympic athlete, as well as a mountain guide.

It costs $85 to take part in Saturday's Mountain Challenge. The price comes with admission to Friday's kickoff party and a commitment to raise at least $250 for STARS.

"Next to Wine Fest, this is our second-biggest individual fundraiser of the year," Gollnick said. "Currently, we have about 14 teams who are already signed up. So we are getting a great turnout."

For more information about the event and to sign up or donate, visit steamboatstars.com.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

If you go

What: STARS Mountain Challenge Kickoff Party

Where: Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs

When: 7 p.m. March 4

Cost: $35

For more information visit steamboatstars.com.