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Peninsula Winter Games receive surprise financial support

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Organizers of the 2004 Penin-sula Winter Games speaking at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting Tuesday got a bit of a surprise when an area business leader increased his gift to them by $5,000.

"On behalf of the Alaska Dodge dealers and the Kenai Chrysler Center, I'm contributing $25,000 toward the Peninsula Winter Games and the Tustumena 200 (Sled Dog Race)," said Bob Favretto, owner of Kenai Chrys-ler.

"I may possibly be able to exceed that by $5,000 to $8,000," he said.

Organizers of the games, scheduled for Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, had been anticipating a gift of $20,000 from him.

Other presentations made public at the business luncheon in the Riverside House Restaurant came from the Salamatof Native Travel Council, which gave $3,000, and from ConocoPhillips, which contributed $15,000 to the games.

Aud Walaszek, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council and winter games coordinator, said she was pleasantly surprised by Favretto's announcement, and said she believes the gifts show that corporations are committed to their employees who participate in the games and to the entire community.

Using an upbeat slide presentation titled, "It's all about the Peninsula Winter Games," Walas-zek told the audience, "It's all about ice, it's all about big dogs, it's all about kids, it's all about fun, it's all about fast dogs, it's all about volunteers, it's all about our sponsors, and it's all about you."

Walaszek then introduced committee chairs for individual events, who made brief informational presentations on activities, including snowshoe softball, cross-country skiing, ice sculpture carving, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race, broom hockey and the frozen salmon toss.

Other events during the games will include Monopoly, table-tennis and hockey tournaments, a basketball shootout, snowmachine rides and races and Junior Mush-dog Sled Races.

"It's all about partnerships," Walaszek said. "That's how our organization -- the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council -- got on board this year, and we're building up to the (2006) Arctic Winter Games."

Speaking for those games, Bill Popp, chair of the Arctic Winter Games Host Society revenue development committee, said, "One of the purposes of the games is to leave a lasting legacy.

"One way to insure this is to practice with the Peninsula Winter Games, to test our systems and to train our volunteers."

Popp also is a member of the Peninsula Winter Games booster committee.

In conjunction with the peninsula games, organizers of the T-200 race will conduct a ceremonial start in Kenai, according to Evy Gebhardt, also a games booster committee member.

Gebhardt said the T-200 celebrates its 20th running this winter and offers the largest purse of any 200-mile race in the nation. The ceremonial start will be done in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she said, enabling children to fulfill a dream of riding in a sled-dog race.

Walaszek said the Native Youth Olympics competitions will be conducted in Kenai on Jan. 31, during the games, and told the business leaders that the frozen salmon toss will have age groups from 2 to 102.

She also asked the business people to let her know if they have a business with a tie-in to the games that would like to join in the promotional effort.



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