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Matching Challenge Grant Awarded to American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation

Fri, Sep  14, 2007 - By Leslie Hamp

HAYWARD, Wis., September 12, 2007 – It’s not every day that a donor knocks on your door with grant dollars that could make a distinct and lasting imprint on the organization, but that’s exactly what happened when John and Leslie Taylor recently contacted the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF).

John and Leslie Taylor and family, Madison, Wis., issued a matching challenge to the ABSF specifying that they will match donations collected by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, dollar for dollar, up to $65,000 over a 30-day period.

In a quick response to the opportunity, ABSF Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff announced a fundraising campaign from September 15 to October 15, 2007.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” Zuelsdorff said. “Each dollar donated during the 30-day period will be matched by John and Leslie Taylor and family, and our goal is to raise $130,000.”

Zuelsdorff said funds would allow completion of the Classic Trail segment to the High Point food station in 2007 and to Highway OO in 2008. Funds will also allow the purchase of a second, large grooming machine to assure quality grooming through the winter and for American Birkebeiner ski races and events.

“This challenge grant will benefit both skate and classic skiers,” Zuelsdorff said. “A new Pisten Bully will allow us to provide the best grooming possible for all skiers, and expansion of the new Classic Trail will reduce congestion for skaters and striders alike. Trail expansion will also allow us to stage separate, smaller, 5-minute alternating skating and classic wave starts and ensure a better race day experience for both skaters and striders.”

John Taylor, an athlete with ties to the Birkie, has been supportive of the international ski race that annually pulls 9,000 skiers, including his wife Leslie, to northern Wisconsin and the Birkie Trail. Leslie has completed 13 Birkies.

“Coming during the 35th anniversary year is perfect timing to honor the vision of Tony Wise in creating this international event that inspires people from around the world to live fit, healthy lives,” Zuelsdorff said. “Raising the matching funds will positively impact trail development and grooming for years to come. It will further improve the event for both classic and skate skiers.”

Zuelsdorff said it’s easy to donate to the Birkie Challenge Fund.

“Donors can send a check for their donation to the ABSF at PO Box 911, Hayward, WI 54843. The check should be made out to ‘ABSF Trail Fund.’ The ABSF is a non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible.”

For more information about the Birkie Challenge Grant and Birkie 2008 35th anniversary races and events, log on to or call 715/634-5025.

Birkie 2008 is sponsored by Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the region and country.

About the Birkie:Celebrating its 35th year, the American Birkebeiner 1-800-USA-BRKE;, February 21-23, 2008, is the largest and most prestigious cross country ski marathon in North America. Spanning 51 kilometers from Cable to Hayward, the Birkie is part of the Worldloppet series of 14 international races, part of the American Ski Marathon series of 14 races, and part of the lives of citizen skiers from around the world. Sponsors of Birkie 2008 include Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing, and other businesses throughout the region and country. Find out more at or call 715/634-5025.