WHITEFISH - At first glance, it may just look like people snowboarding or spending the day on Whitefish Mountain.
But if you look a little closer, you might see it's a little more than a friendly competition.
The Nate Chute Foundation raises awareness for mental health and for the past 22 years, they teamed up with Whitefish Mountain Resort for one of the longest snowboard slalom competitions in the country.
"It's a really popular event. This year we had more than 100 racers sign up in under an hour. So that just goes to show, you know, how much people want to support this cause and also take part in a great sporting event,” note resort spokesman Chad Sokol.
But some riders say their reasons behind competing in the event run very close to home.
"Nate Chute was a friend, snowboarder, and kind of our core group growing up that took his own life. And I think the most important — most meaningful — things is I've been able to bring my kids to the race,” Jill Johns said. “We've raised three kids and two of them are snowboarders and now they are 14 and 11 [and] get to see what this really special thing is that we're a part of."
Many of the riders will tell you they are competing for more than a prize because most importantly it has helped them turn pain into purpose.
"It is definitely beyond prizes, is definitely beyond the place. It could be my own kids and it has become very real to me now because now I'm hearing about kids my own kids' age,” Johns said. “But very much specifically speaking to the Valley, putting money into this foundation and making sure even if our $30,000 raised one year, can maybe help say one person in a moment of crisis. Everything is of course worth it."
"We raised I think about $29,000 through the give lively crowdsourcing fundraiser. So, there are about 18 team members who reached out to their circles of friends and family and supporters and raised that money,” Nate Chute Foundation executive director Kacy Howard said. “And then we raised another $5,000 through raffle sales. So, all in all, we raised about $34,000 for suicide prevention around the contest, which is super exciting."
Learn more about the Nate Chute Foundation at https://www.natechutefoundation.org/