FRANCONIA – The conclusion of Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country’s 9 th annual Anthem Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington on Aug. 5 th held many wonderful moments and milestones for 14 adaptive athletes and their support teams.
“It was an amazing day full of awesomeness!” says ASPNC Executive Director Sandy Olney. “To date, we have raised over $120,000–the most in the event’s nine-year history.” Olney believes that this was due in great part to several powerhouse fundraising teams and to a new Summit Sponsor, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“The day ended with a wonderful Bottom-side Brunch Celebration toasting all who made the climb and who made the event a grand success on so many levels. It was the perfect recap to a perfect morning,” Olney said.
In the Anthem Sunrise Ascent, teams of volunteer “mules” aided adaptive sports enthusiasts in ASPNC’s version of a “walkathon” on a sunny, clear and temperate day. Each team got pledges and had the task of raising at least $6,288 (the height of Mt. Washington). The teams represented were Barbara Singleton, Brenna Bean, Charlie Walker, Chester Eastwood, David Santamore, Erik Kondo, Jesse Walker, Marie Hennessy, Marsha Gray, Martin Wallem, Sasha Segal, and Suzie Coughlan for ASPNC and Bex Fillmore and Vince Skelton for New England Disabled Sports (NEDS).
“It was a smashing success and it is all thanks to our volunteers, participants, their teams, the individual donors who pledged to each team, the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Mt. Washington State Park, summit sponsor Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, halfway house sponsor Bank of New Hampshire, and mile marker sponsor Noyle Johnson Insurance — all of whom made the event the best ever,” says Olney.
All proceeds go directly to enabling ASPNC and NEDS to continue to offer sport and recreational outings, programs and competitive team opportunities to North Country adaptive athletes and their families.
“We are proud to support these tremendous athletes as part of our continuing efforts to expand opportunities that improve the lives of the people in the communities we serve. The determination exhibited by the Sunrise Ascent athletes and their teams to reach the summit of Mt. Washington is truly inspiring and highlights the important work of Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country and New England Disabled Sports,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire.
Local Anthem Sunrise Ascent athletes included Marsha Gray of Waterford, Vt. and Sasha Segal of Woodsville, N.H., both making their 4 th ascents, and Chester Eastwood of Conway, N.H., who made his 8 th ascent. Additionally, Charlie Walker of Littleton, N.H. made his first ascent supported by his family, several of his classmates and teachers from Littleton High School. Together, the 14 athletes were supported by over 200 “mules,” 60 “road runners,” — volunteers who provide the rides from the summit — and over a dozen support and safety team members.
The Endurance Challenge portion of the event saw three challengers this year, including David Santamore from Barre, Vt. David made his second attempt at an unassisted wheeled ascent in a modified handcycle and arrived at the summit with a big smile in just over eight hours. Erik Kondo from Lexington, Mass. and Brenna Bean from Whatley, Mass. Made their own relay team, swapping out as they pushed themselves to their limits and used both handcycles and their own wheelchairs. They ran short on time at the six-mile marker. We hope they will be back to try again next year.
To learn more about this event, the athletes, and the adaptive sport organizations involved, Adaptive Sports Partners and New England Disabled Sports, or to make a donation, please visit www.SunriseAscent.org. Donations in honor of the Sunrise Ascent athletes and their designated programs are still being accepted through the month of August. To contact ASPNC, go to www.adaptivesportspartners.org.