Vershire's 20th Annual Snowshoe-a-thon - Whether (Weather?) Snow or No!
It wouldn’t be the first time participants might be hiking as well as - or instead of - snowshoeing from the Vershire Town Center up two miles to the Mountain School to raise money for VerShare’s Children’s Outdoor Activity Fund, but more snow is expected by the end of next week, according to Karl Vitols, the event's coordinator. Every year, usually in February, about one hundred intrepid souls of all ages make the delightful trek together in one of Vershire’s most popular events, the Snowshoe-a-thon. This year’s Snowshoe-a-thon is held a little later than usual in order to avoid conflicts with school vacations. In the past, the mid-February date meant that some families were away and missed participating.
Karl is the volunteer organizer of the event for the second time, having taken over from Ethel Pike last year. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Snowshoe-a-thon, and will be commemorated with special handmade ornaments crafted by Deb Churchill being gifted to all Snow Angel donors. Snow Angels are sponsors who donate either a fixed amount or a per-child amount to add to the money raised by the snowshoeing participants. Snow Angel donations have averaged around $30 per child, contributing significantly to the overall funds raised by the event, which can total $5,000-7,000.
While all donations are gratefully appreciated, there is no contribution required to participate, so come join us even if you haven’t raised pledge money, or even if you just make a pledge yourself. The snowshoes are even provided for free, or you can bring your own. The very first Snowshoe-a-thon twenty years ago raised funds to purchase many pairs of snowshoes for the Vershire School, which has since closed.
Most of the money raised for the Children’s Activity Fund supports the free Vershire Summer Camp, which many of the snowshoeing children also attend, so they benefit from the “full circle” as Karl called it, making both winter and summer events more meaningful and teaching the kids about community economics. Many of the children also attend the schools of the Rivendell School District, which co-sponsors the event and which also receive some of the funds from this effort.
Participants who raise $60 also receive a Snowshoe-a-thon short-sleeved t-shirt, and over $100 will earn a long-sleeved tee. Artists of all ages are invited to submit designs for this year’s t-shirts. Entries will hang in the Town Hall where people can vote for their favorites in children’s and adults' categories during registration. Last year’s artwork incorporated two winning designs. The shirts will be produced in Taftsville by Anything Printed. Below is an example of previous design contestants.
Karl extends “a huge thanks to the Mountain School for everything they do” to help with this event, from loaning snowshoes to hosting a fabulous chili lunch for participants and their families just beyond the finish line, complete with Winter Carnival offered by students of the on-farm semester program for high school juniors from various states. The Mountain School also provides transportation, along with the VerShare van, from the starting point up to the mid-way station, at Andrea Wasserman’s house on Darling Hill, and to the Mountain School and back down.
Snowshoers can opt to complete half the course, with the first half being considerably more arduous than the final leg. Every bit of the way is gorgeous, and a reasonably fit child or adult can generally complete the course without much difficulty. Everyone is welcome to participate and many come from other towns and even out of state for this annual event.
Volunteers are the backbone of the organization and the event, with more than a dozen helping with everything from packing the snow and marking the trail before the event to registration and parking at the starting point, making food for the mid-way station, checking in and out every snowshoer to make sure everyone is accounted for who has a numbered tag pinned to their jackets, then sweatshirts, and maybe if it’s warm enough this year, the layers will peel down to t-shirts, or at least turtlenecks!
Volunteers are still welcome to donate food and/or time, and can contact Karl at email@example.com or 333-3690. Snacks generally include fruit and baked goods, and 100% juice or cider contributions are especially needed for thirsty athletes. Local students who volunteer can also receive community service credit, and everyone under 18 participating, whether snowshoeing or volunteering or both, is eligible for the Snow Angel contribution, helping out the effort even more!
Registration forms are available online along with additional information at vershare.org.
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