A pack of snowmachines hit the trails of the Caribou Hills during the Kenai Peninsula Way Out Women ride on Saturday. The event raised money for the Central Peninsula General Hospital WOW cancer fund.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Those who share a love of snowmachining, a love of the outdoors and desire to find a cure for cancer banded together in the Caribou Hills on Saturday for the Kenai Peninsula Way Out Women (WOW) ride a benefit event to raise money for the Central Peninsula General Hospital WOW cancer fund.
"The participants are pretty diverse, but what they share in common is nearly all of them have had their lives touched by cancer in some way," said Kim Cooper, one of the organizers of the event.
She explained some of the riders were cancer survivors, some are battling it now, some had lost loved ones and others are the family, friends or coworkers of people who have or had cancer.
In all, more than 100 people took part in the event and more than $21,306 was raised for the CPGH WOW cancer fund.
"We're very happy with the enthusiastic response from the community," said Kathy Lopeman, who also organized of the event.
"Everyone was jazzed that every red cent raised stays right here in the community," she said.
"Everything goes to CPGH to meet people's needs. Some people spend everything they've got on cancer treatment so this can help them," Cooper said.
"It could be used to pay for premedications before chemo-therapy that typically aren't covered by health insurance. It could cover babysitting costs for people in treatment. It could offset transportation costs to treatment.
"There's lots of ways this money could help," Cooper said.
The money for the fund was raised by people who either had their $100 entry fee sponsored by someone or paid the fee themselves.
"Several people didn't stop there, though. Some of them went into the community to raise more money," Cooper said.
This created some unusual appearances at the WOW ride, since several people raised money by wagering they would do something outrageous if someone they knew paid a substantial amount of money to see them do it.
"It was a dare," said Steve Crane of Soldotna who arrived at Rocky's Straight Inn Lodge in the Caribou Hills the starting point of the WOW ride in drag, complete with a long pink wig, lipstick, eyeliner and a knee-length flowing orange dress.
"Someone dared me to dress like this and I told them I would for $500. They raised it in about five minutes. It's embarrassing, but it's for a good cause," he said.
Crane wasn't the only one in a weird get-up. Several other people had made bets to wear costumes or dye their hair unusual colors for money.
Sue Crane applies lipstick to her husband, Steve Crane, before the start of Saturday's WOW ride. Crane was paid $500 toward the charity to dress in drag during the event.
Photo by Jospeh Robertia
There was a snowmachining gorilla, two women dressed as rubber duckies and a man portraying a bottle of Crown Royal liquor who was frequently asked to pose for pictures with several women dressed as cans of Pepsi Cola.
There also were several people with hair colors either dyed or wigs that included neon purple, pink, blue and green.
With or without wagers, several women were able to raise extraordinary amounts of money by themselves, according to Cooper.
"Our top money-raiser was Elena Jackson of Soldotna who raised $2,089," Cooper said. She said Jackson's young daughter, Rylie, is a cancer survivor, and that they had relied on community support to help them pay for their battle against the disease.
"It was really inspirational because they had benefited from the hospital fund and now they were able to give back to the community," Cooper said.
The second highest money-raiser was Shelly McGahan of Kenai who raised $1,915, and Krsytal Gilpatrick of Nevada and Michelle Stenseng of Soldotna tied as the third place money-raisers, each having gathered $1,879.
"Not only does the money raised stay locally, but due to the contributions of several sponsors, we have no administrative costs to worry about. The sponsors picked up everything so all the money raised could go to the fund," Cooper said.
"This event is really just starting to roll," said Bruce Friend, district sales manager for Polaris, one of the event's sponsors. "We would like to see this become not only an annual event, but also would like to have several events like this in different regions of Alaska and maybe even have a summer ATV event."
Friend added that as much as the event was about charity, it was also about having a good time.
"It's fun to put ladies on a machine that they can go home with braggin' rights for having ridden," he said.
One such machine that a few lucky ladies were able to test out for the day was the new for 2006 Polaris Switchback FST a four stroke, 135 horsepower, high performance sled that's not even on the market yet.
"Our main goal is to reach out to the community and raise money for a good cause, and this is an awesome event that allows us to do both," Friend said.
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