Bailey Clark has her struggles. A brain tumour when she was just four left her in a wheelchair with mobility and other challenges.
As Easter Seals ambassador at the annual Snowarama fundraiser February 9, Bailey, now 14, sometimes seems a bit taxed by her duties, but when the subject of Camp Easter Seals comes up, she brightens with unbridled enthusiasm.
"It's fun," Bailey exclaims. "I made lots of new friends." Camp Easter Seal is a wheelchair-accessible resort on the shore of Lake Manitou where children like Bailey can ride horseback, swim, go boating, have cookouts and rustic campouts and other activities all supported by nurturing, professional counsellors.
Snowarama 2013, the 36th annual, raised a record-breaking $140, 263 as of the banquet Saturday night, but Deana Jesmer, community relations coordinator for the Saskatchewan Abilities Council (SAC) said donations were still trickling in as of Monday, so there is still a chance the event could reach its goal of $155,000.
John Denysek, regional director of SAC, said the amount raised can send close to 100 kids to camp.
After a dismal snow year in 2012 that forced organizers to cancel the ride portion of the fundraiser, they could not have asked for better conditions this year. Sunshine, cool, but mild temperatures ideal snow and perfectly groomed trails made the 120-kilometre ride from Gallagher Centre to Rhein to Good Spirit Lake and back a joy for the record 296 riders, a number perhaps boosted slightly by pent-up demand after last year.
Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $150. Ken Propp, president of Harvest Meats, was the top fundraiser bringing in more than $10,000. Propp said the key to his success is longevity.
"I've been at it since about 1988; I have a list of people who just keep supporting me and I try to add a few more every year," he said.
A little healthy competition might have helped a bit too.
"A few years ago, a young girl named Courtney Frank raised almost ten thousand dollars," Propp continued. "I kind of used that as inspiration. It's a tremendous cause; I'm very, very privileged to be able to participate in it."
Frank was the third top fundraiser this year after Propp and Bruce Peppler.
This year, Ski-Doo along with King's Sport Leisure & Marine donated the grand prize for the event, a $10,000 sled.
Riders were given one ticket toward a draw for the snowmobile for every $150 they raised. Propp, won."That's kind of a flukey thing," he said.