Black Woods Blizzard Tour raises record $763,000 for ALS

Holding a ceremonial 2012 Black Woods Blizzard Tour donation check are, from left to right, Ron Gardenhire, Terry Steinbach, Bryan Flaherty (Black Woods Grill & Bar) and David Kolquist (chair of the Black Woods Blizzard Tour board). Submitted

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour, Never Surrender, A Ride to Fight ALS raised a record $763,000 for The ALS Association, Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter — an increase of more than $100,000 from last year’s event.

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour has now raised more than $4.3 million in its history.

There were 204 snowmobile riders and 57 sponsors participating in the 2012 event, which was held February 1-4. This was also a record number of riders for the tour.

“The Black Woods Blizzard Tour Board and riders set high goals for the Tour again this year,” said Executive Director Sue Spalding. “I am very proud of the accomplishments achieved. The people who volunteer on the board, committees, riders and sponsors continually strive to work for a common cause — to help people with ALS and find a cure for this terrible disease.”

This year’s top fundraiser was the Polaris team of Roseau, Minn. The team raised more than $100,000 through local community events and pledges. This was a record amount raised for this group. Jane Evans, representing Polaris, accepted the Polaris 600 IQ Shift snowmobile donated by Polaris Industries. The sled will be used to raise more money for ALS and the Black Woods Blizzard Tour.

Second place went to Minnesota Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, who raised more than $26,000. Coming in third was Dave Telschow of Savage, Minnesota, who raised $23,055. Ted Kowalski of Prior Lake raised $13,670 to take home fourth-place honors. Rounding out the top five was Jeff Thompson of Cologne, Minn., who raised $11,036.

Winning the Wes Blakeslee Most Valuable Rider Award this year was volunteer Jeff Trentman of Duluth, who has been a part of the Black Woods Blizzard Tour for years and oversees the luggage crew and makes sure everyone knows where to go next on the tour. Jeff is constantly working and doesn’t sit until all the jobs are done. Since he became involved, Jeff never misses a tour. One year he flew back from Singapore, just so he could volunteer. Jeff knows personally the trials of living with ALS and the difference the Chapter can make in someone’s life. Jeff lost his wife, Lisa, to ALS.

The ALS Association, Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter and the Black Woods Blizzard Tour congratulate Jeff for winning the award and thank him for his many years of service.

Terry Steinbach, former Minnesota Twins catcher, served as the celebrity host of the event for the 13th year. Joining Steinbach on the ride again this year were Minnesota Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire; Twins batting coach, Joe Vavra; and former Minnesota Twins great Kent Hrbek.

The Chapter would like to thank everyone involved in the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, especially all of the volunteers and those who donated to the event. A huge thank you is extended to the Black Woods Blizzard Tour committee: Bud Baker, Bryan Flaherty, Cullen Flaherty, Pete Gassert, Dan Hartel, Tom Jesperson, David Kolquist, Julie Thoreson and Dave Telschow.

Sponsors for the event include: Black Woods Grill and Bar, Fox Sports North, KDAL 610, Northland’s News Center KBJR, Phillips-UV/IceHole/Trinchero, Polaris Industries, Inc., Aluma Trailers/Widdes Trailer Sales, Essentia Health, Lamar Advertising Company, Minnesota Twins, Youngstedt’s Companies, AmericInn, Amsoil, KLN Family Brands, Rohlfing/Coors Light, Tischler Wood, Best Buy, Cambria, Cirrus, Coca-Cola, Country Inn and Suites, Creative Threads, Duluth Lawn and Sport, Engwall Florist and Greenhouses, ESPN 1500, Fastline Graphix, Fortune Bay Resort and Casino, Harbor City Oil, Hartel’s/DBJ Disposal Company, Holiday Station Stores, Jesperson Studios, JWDA, Inc., Kolar Toyota, Maurices, Mellin Promotions, Minnesota Coaches, MN USA, National Audio and Visual, Northland Subway, Perkins, Pike Lake Liquors, Precision Camera, Pro Print, Republic Bank, Skinz Protective Gear, SPOT, Spur, Stokes Media House, SYSCO, Twin Ports Paper, CentraCare Health Systems, Country Inn of Two Harbors, Hoyt Lakes VFW, Manning Transfer, Meier Art and Frame, Northern Business Products, University Liquor and operating under USDA Forest Service Permit.

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