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American Birkebeiner Drives to Meet $65,000 Challenge Grant by October 15

Sat, Oct  6, 2007 - By Leslie Hamp

HAYWARD, Wis., October 2, 2007 – In a fast and furious attempt to raise $65,000 to meet a challenge issued to the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF), Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff today announced donations are nearly one-third of the way toward the goal.

“As of October 2, donations stand at $20,797, and our goal is to raise the full $65,000. When matched by John and Leslie Taylor and family, the $65,000 turns into $130,000. It’s a fabulous opportunity that we just can’t let slip by, especially during the 35th anniversary of the event.”

John and Leslie Taylor, athletes from Madison, Wis., have strong ties to the Birkie. John 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.

The Taylors issued the 30-day challenge, which began on September 15 and runs through October 15, 2007, as a way to support the event that annually attracts 7,000 skiers to the 51 kilometer American Birkiebeiner and 23 kilometer Kortelopet and another 2,000 skiers to shorter races and events for youth, families, and recreational skiers.

“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.”

Funds will allow completion of the Birkie 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.”

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

Donors can contribute online at or 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.

“Meeting this challenge will be a fantastic tribute to Tony Wise and a recognition of all the skiers, sponsors, volunteers and businesses who have driven the event for 35 years,” Zuelsdorff said. “I encourage skiers and supporters to mail or drop their donation off at the Birkie office today.”

To view donations to date, log on daily to where a thermometer graphic illustrates every dollar donated to the ABSF Trail Fund.

To learn more about North America’s largest and most prestigious cross country ski race and the matching challenge grant, log on to, email 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.