The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce (SCC) and their volunteer ambassadors held another successful "Afterhours" get together last week featuring Wells Fargo Financial, The UPS Store, Cold Stone, and AK Rays in Soldotna on the Spur Highway. "It was all about being open for business afterhours Thursday where you were able to have a free hotdog and ice cream, get a tan, refinance your house, and ship off a Mother's Day gift all with one stop," said SCC Executive Director Michelle Glaves. According to SCC Event Coordinator January Yaeger, over 300 folks dropped by the event to play games, eat hot dogs, network, and have fun. One of the highlights of the carnival themed event was the Cold Stone celebrity scoopers for charity that saw hundreds line up to be served their favorite ice cream mix by Iditarod award winning musher Paul Gebhardt and Soldotna City Mayor Peter Micciche. "We were expertly trained in dispensing Cold Stone ice creams. I've caught every scoop tossed my way and I resemble any remark about needing a cold stone to chill political hot air. It's fun and it's for a very worthy cause," said Micciche. "Yeah, but I think it's easier to mush dogs at -50 for 1,000 miles any day," laughed Gebhardt.
The celebrity Cold Stone scoopers donated their tips, which came to a couple hundred dollars, to what has become known as the Rotary to Rural Alaska Program which was supported by Gebhardt during this year's run to Nome. "I run through these villages every year and see how important it is for these kids to get vaccinated, so this year we challenged folks to match my miles mushed with a penny or more per mile to support getting vaccines to the rural villages of Alaska and keeping it refrigerated. With the swine flu epidemic now and the flooding it's more important than ever to have accommodations for vaccines in rural villages," Gebhardt told the Dispatch. According to Soldotna Rotarian Cliff Baker who coordinates the program with Sarah Riley, the award winning Rotary to Rural Program has raised some $15,000 over the last few years, "With the matching Rotary District funds we have been able to place one commercial grade refrigeration unit at Ft. Yukon, six temperature monitors at Kotzebue and six at the Nome hub and eleven emergency Go Kits that can service 150 people at Bethel, but there is still a big need," he said.
Donations may still be made to the Rotary to Rural Program by contacting Evy or Paul Gebhardt at Morning View Kennel in Kasilof, or making checks payable to the Soldotna Rotary Club. The next Soldotna Chamber Afterhours will be May 28th at Foot Works on K-Beach Rd.
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