Riding With Heart F or snowmobilers, the idea of a charity ride can take on many different meanings. It means a lot, though. Charity rides and events in the 2014-15 season, even with challenging snow conditions, raised more than $1.2 million for various causes. For some, a charity snowmobile event is a way to spend time with friends and have a cool riding experience. For others, it’s about raising money for a cause that hits close to home. Then there are the events that are really personal: charity events to benefit an important member of the snowmobiling community. The Sno Barons, the St. Francis Sno-Ghosts and the North Branch Sno Drifters rallied around Doug Kissick this year, a long-time Sno Baron who received a Lymphoma cancer diagnosis in 2014. He’s held big jobs at Haydays over the years, including race director, site designer, and sanitation chief. In the past, the Sno Barons have raised money for breast cancer causes, but decided to help Kissick this year instead, said Nikie Ehlen, left, took part in the Chaska Snow Hawks event to help with medical Jessica Kirchoff, Kissick’s daughter. In all, there have been four expenses. Ehlen is a member of the Sno-Runners. events that raised in excess of $40,000, including a radar run and a vintage ride, she said. Club members have been at the center of it all, she said, whether planning events, securing donations or attending. “It’s nice to see he’s getting credit for being the amazing man he is,” Kirchoff said. “It’s been overwhelming.” Each year the Chaska Snow Hawks, of Southwest Trails, chooses a worthy person to help – typically another snowmobiler, said Curt Main, Snow Hawks president. This year they chose Nikie Ehlen, a Carver County Sno-Runner, also a club in Southwest Trails. Nikie was paralyzed in a snowmobile accident. They typically host a ride, a meal and a silent auction, Main said, but poor snow conditions cancelled the ride. That didn’t seem to matter, though, because the clubs secured more than 300 silent auction items, were near capacity for the venue and raised a record amount of money — $19,000 — for the Ehlen family. “We were really surprised by it, and the family was really happy with it,” Main said. Falls International Speed Run Against Cancer The International Voyageurs Snowmobile Club’s annual speed run takes place outside of the Thunderbird Lodge on Rainy Lake. This year was the 7th annual event and Thunderbird Lodge donated part of its day’s profits to the cause. • Cause: Community Cancer Walk, which provides gas cards to Koochiching County residents with cancer. • Money Raised in 2015: $1,229 • 2016 Date: February 13 Black Woods Blizzard Tour A three-day riding event in the Arrowhead area, this event is billed as the single largest snowmobile fundraising event in the world. It has raised more than $7 million in 16 years. As of June, riders have already raised $8,300 toward the 2016 ride. • Cause: ALS Association, Minnesota/North Dakota/ South Dakota Chapter • Money Raised in 2015: $862,000 • Top Fundraiser: Team Polaris of Roseau raised $142,000 • 2016 Date: February 3-6 14 Minnesota Snowmobiling Mayors Trail Ride This one-day, self-guided ride through the Rum River-area trails and communities with area mayors was cancelled for 2015 due to low snow conditions. However, some sponsors, including the St. Francis Sno-Ghosts, allowed the ride to keep the money and distribute to area charities. • Cause: Money raised is divided among six communities, and each mayor donates the community share to a charity of his or her choice. • Money Raised in 2015: $600, divided and donated to Oak Grove Acorn Days, St. Francis Ambassadors Program, Nowthen Lions Club, and Youth First • 2016 Date: February 6 Northland 300 The three-day, 300-mile ride in the Arrowhead was altered a bit in 2015 for snow conditions. The event had 77 riders who trailered from Two Harbors to Ely, where they found great snow conditions. A highlight of this event is the Opening Ceremony with Special Olympic athletes. The event has raised more than $4 million in its 26 years.