MISSOULA — More than 30-riders who took part in last week's Trans Montana Snowmobile Charity Ride are probably still thawing out. But they have the satisfaction of know they raised $25,000 to help local mental health programs.
The 6-day cross-state event started at Lolo Pass, and ended with a rider's banquet at the Antler's Lodge in Cooke City.
The ride, which has been running for more than 20-years raises money for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, with programs that help with problems like teen suicide, and veterans battling PTSD.
Organizers say 34-riders signed-up this year, with most of them making the entire circuit, logging upwards of 1300-miles on the road and about 250-miles on the trails. And nearly 100 local riders dropped in for at least a day of riding over six days.
What's impressive is the event's draw for riders from all over the country. Some drove a thousand miles to take part. The "Long Haul" award went to Jim Keesling, who pulled a trailer all the way from Minneapolis to Montana. Butch Arterburn of St. Paul, Nebraska won the "Most Senior Rider" award at age 77.
Other awards included the "Cheer-man Award" for Alan DeLeon of Kalispell for always being willing to help fellow riders, and Colin Watts as the "Dollar Scholar" for individually raising $1100. Cliff Walker won the "Snowed-in Award" for getting his sled stuck in a creek in Elk Meadows on the first day and race organizer Mark Smolen winning the traditional "Dog Bone Award" for making a "navigational error" following a descent down a steep hill that got him in a pickle.
For more information, and pictures of the charity ride, check out the website.