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Bjorn Daehlie Will Ski 2009 Birkie Classic Race

Wed, Nov  12, 2008 - By Cherie Morgan

HAYWARD, Wis., November 11, 2008 – Bjorn Daehlie, the most accomplished cross country skier of all time, has announced his intent to ski the 2009 Birkie Classic. Bjorn will ski the 54 Kilometer race and participate in additional American Birkebiner events as an Ambassador for Multiple Sclerosis Research.

“This year, Birkie Skiers for Cures will be supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its Promise 2010 research project,” said Ned Zuelsdorff, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “Bjorn Daehlie’s mother has suffered from MS for several years and raising needed funds for MS Research is important to him.”

“We hope that Bjorn’s support and participation in the 2009 Birkie Skiers for Cures program will allow us to exceed our past fundraising efforts giving greatly needed funds to the MS Society.” said Zuelsdorff. “In the past three years Birkie Skiers for Cures programs have raised more than $84,000.”

“Dr. Ian Duncan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a long-time Birkie skier, is one of four researchers throughout the world leading the National MS Society’s Promise 2010 project,” said Zuelsdorff. “After Ian approached the Foundation, explained his research and defined the projects goals we felt the Society and their efforts to find a cure were a perfect match for the Birkie Skiers for Cures fundraising campaign.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms may range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis or loss of vision. Progress of the disease, severity and specific symptoms are very unpredictable and vary from person to person.

One of the most exciting areas targeted by Promise 2010 focuses on nervous system repair and protection, reversing the damage caused by MS. “Although current medical treatments help some MS patients, they do not repair the damage that occurs in the brain and spinal cord in chronic disease,” said Dr. Duncan. “We are trying to devise strategies that will result in repair of areas of chronic demyelination.”

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to partner with the Birkebeiner,” said Colleen Kalt, president and CEO of the National MS Society – Wisconsin Chapter. “In Wisconsin and Minnesota alone, more than 20,000 families are affected by multiple sclerosis. Those who participate in the Birkie Skiers for Cures program are helping enrich lives and foster independence.”

“This is a great opportunity for women and men to “Join the Movement” with the MS Society and to showcase her/his own commitment to health and wellness by training for and participating in this ski event,” Zuelsdorff said. “Whether participating on a competitive or non-competitive level, participants boost their own fitness level, contribute to an important cause, and have a whole lot of fun in the process. It's empowering and a win-win situation all the way around.”

Zuelsdorff said participating in the Birkie Skiers for Cures program is simple. Donors register for the race or ski event of their choice: the 50 kilometer Birkie Skate, 54K Subaru Birkie Classic, 23K Kortelopet or 8K Johnson Bank Prince Haakon. All are held Saturday, February 21, 2009 in Cable and Hayward, Wis.

Donor/skiers voluntarily collect pledges and raise funds for the National MS Society. Donations can be collected online at www.wisMS.org or a donation form can be downloaded by visiting www.birkie.com and selecting Birkie Skiers for Cures.

Skiers raising the most money will reap the benefits: the opportunity to meet and ski with Bjorn! The participant raising the most money will also receive a free entry into the 2010 American Birkebeiner race of their choice and a free get-away weekend at Lakewoods Resort near Cable, WI. All skiers raising pledges of $100 or more will be part of a random drawing for two similar get-aways at Tagalong Golf and Resort, Birchwood and Spider Lake Lodge, Hayward. Additional prizes will be awarded and announced closer to the event. Participants will also receive recognition on their race bibs.

More than 7,000 skiers are expected to register for the 36th anniversary American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet. Another 2,500 are expected for shorter races and events. To learn more about North America’s largest and most prestigious cross country ski race, log on to http://www.birkie.com, email birkie@birkie.com or call 715/634-5025. To learn more about Joining the Movement with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the fight to cure MS, log on to http://wisMS.org.

Birkie 2009 is sponsored by Subaru, Johnson Bank, Sawyer County Record and Superior Publishing, and other businesses throughout the region and country.