Snowarama 2018, snowmobiling for Easter Seals Kids
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
A fun day out snowmobiling. Meeting new friends. Exploring the area and taking in its wonders; all while supporting children with physical disabilities. That, according to Sioux Lookout – Hudson, Red Lake Snowarama organizers Mike Starratt and Tracey Ellek, is what’s in store for participants once again on this year’s January 27 fundraising ride.
“For the last three or four years it’s been a group of 50 of us,” Starratt commented.
“We’ve got good trails and we stay as a group. It makes it more of a family ride,” Ellek added.
“It’s a way of going out and being adventurous, but staying safe. The Lac Seul Police Service is with us. It’s a big group ride. No one gets left behind,” Starratt shared.
Ellek said the event is a great way for people new to Sioux Lookout and Hudson to explore the trails and meet new friends.
Starratt said he was informed by Easter Seals Ontario that last year’s Sioux Lookout, Hudson, Red Lake Snowarama ride, which was a round trip from Sioux Lookout to Dryden and back, was the longest Snowarama fundraising ride in the province.
Registration begins January 27 at 9 a.m. at the Ojibway Power Toboggan Association (OPTA) Club House at 108 Abram Lake Road.
This year’s ride will head up Lac Seul, and traverse Little Vermilion and Big Vermilion Lakes.
Starratt said riders will stop at a waterfall between the two lakes for a bonfire.
“We can just hang out for a bit and see the waterfall. I’m sure people will find that interesting,” he said.
Ellek, who has been participating in Snowarama since she was about 10 years old, said, “It’s a good cause. It’s kind of cool to help run it now.”
Participants will conclude the day by heading back to the Forest Inn and Conference Centre for chili.
“The annual Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids is the largest and most renowned snowmobiling fundraising activity in Ontario. Each year, snowmobiling enthusiasts gather in communities across Ontario to participate in raising funds to support children with physical disabilities,” Easter Seals Ontario explained on the website, www.easterseals.org.
For several years, Starratt and Ellek said riders from Red Lake have been coming to town to participate in Snowarama, as the event is not held there.
The fundraiser has evolved into a regional event with riders from Sioux Lookout and Hudson being joined by riders from Red Lake, Dryden, and Winnipeg.
Asked what has made the event so popular, Starratt replied, “I think the fact that we’re always changing it up… always trying to make it interesting.”
Pledge forms are available at East Side Café in Hudson, Mascotto’s Marine, Fresh Market Foods, Arctic Cat dealer Railside Sports and Marine in Dryden, Polaris dealer Red Lake Marine in Red Lake, Ski-Doo dealer Lakeside Marine in Red Lake, Sioux-Per Auto Parts, Five Mile Corner, and McKinstry Chrysler in Dryden.
Starratt said snowmobile dealers will be participating in the ride, and may bring some new sleds for people to check out.
People can register online at www.snowarama.org.
Both Starratt and Ellek plan to do so and said it’s a great way to collect pledges from people who don’t live nearby.
Anyone who would like to support the cause can go online and pledge.
Special events permits ($35) will be available for anyone wishing to take part in the event who doesn’t currently have a trail permit.
Starratt, an OPTA board member, said the town loop trail has been groomed.
“We’re just waiting for ice thickness so we can get the groomer to drive on the lakes,” he said.
Starratt, who has snowmobiled throughout Canada, the United States, and Iceland, said there’s something special about local trails.
“We’ve got stuff that will rival spots around the world,” he commented.
Anyone who would like more information about this year’s Sioux Lookout – Hudson, Red Lake Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids, or who would like to support the event, can contact Ellek at 807-737-3050, or Starratt at 807-737-4777.