Fundraisers on September 10 and 11
[ By Kendra Walker ]
Whether you’re a hiker, biker or aficionado of human-powered wheeled devices, the Crested Butte community has the opportunity next weekend to support a worthy cause in this town: mental health. The annual Trek for Life and Pedal Your Butte Off fundraisers are scheduled for September 10 and 11 and will raise awareness for mental health and funding for resources for those who need them or cannot afford them.
Trek for Life and Pedal Your Butte Off are aimed to stimulate a dialogue about the stigma associated with mental health illness. Unfortunately, mountain towns like Crested Butte experience higher suicide rates than the national average. The donations raised through next weekend’s events will also provide mental health services for those who are underinsured and spark new research to provide a better understanding of the complex factors behind mental illness in the valley.
“One-hundred percent of the money donated goes directly to those who cannot afford mental health insurance in this community,” said event organizer Paul Uhl.
Trek for Life
The Trek for Life fundraiser, a 12-mile memorial hike on West Maroon Trail, will take place on Friday, September 10. Now in its third year, the trek is in memory of Uhl’s son, Kyle. Kyle hiked the West Maroon Trail during the same September weekend in 2018 before tragically losing his life by suicide in October 2018.
Uhl invites participants to donate and hike West Maroon Tail from Snowmass to Schofield Park to remember Kyle and other loved ones. Uhl notes that there will be no organized accommodations or transportation over from Aspen, so folks are invited to hike the trail from whichever side they like.
“People will be approaching it from both sides,” he says. “I also realize a hike over West Maroon isn’t for everybody even though a lot of people in the community are very physically active. If people don’t want to do that, I would encourage them to get out and hike wherever they’d like in the community.”
Pedal Your Butte Off
If a Crested Butte-style, costumed event closer to town is more your scene, the second annual Pedal Your Butte Off invites the community for a human-powered wheeled event around Crested Butte on Saturday, September 11. Bring your costume and a human-powered wheeled apparatus (no motors allowed) to Rainbow Park at 10 a.m. for a community cruise. From the park, the course will head over to Peanut Lake and loop back toward Camp 4 Coffee to finish.
With last year’s inaugural event toned down to a virtual scale due to COVID-19, Uhl hopes this year will provide a better opportunity for the community to come together.
It’s going to be pure Crested Butte,” says Uhl. “Anything with a wheel that’s powered by a human can be entered. Office chairs, shopping carts, a skateboard, a unicycle…We invite everyone to be as creative as they want and to come celebrate life with us.”
This year, all funds raised through Trek for Life and Pedal Your Butte Off will go to the Center for Mental Health. Last year, the fundraisers raised almost $12,000, says Uhl. “We set a record last year in terms of donations and financial contributions.”
Uhl hopes to see the fundraisers continue to grow in the future, and that they can help spark new research to provide a better understanding of the complex factors behind mental illness in the valley.
“As our fundraising increases I can see us allocating resources in a variety of different ways,” he says. “I would like to see it grow beyond just providing money for mental health resources, I would like to start addressing some of the root causes. It seems there’s been a big push in the past few years to address some of these factors around mental health illness in Crested Butte. We’re starting to see some positive effects and results from our efforts and other organizations’ efforts.”
For more information, to make a donation to support mental health and to register for either event, visit trekforlife.net.
Support mental health:
One weekend, two fundraising events:
Trek for Life
Friday, September 10
12-mile memorial hike on West Maroon Trail
Pedal Your Butte Off
Saturday, September 11
Costumed human-powered wheeled ride
10 a.m. community cruise kickoff at Rainbow Park