‘Stomp Out Cancer’: Snowshoe Stampede event raises more than $30,000

MANISTEE — Walking for a cause, dozens of local residents broke out their snowshoes on Saturday to honor those who survive and have been lost to cancer, as part of the eighth annual “Snowshoe Stampede” event.

Jessica Scharp and Rachel Vasquez, who coordinate the event with several volunteers, said the turnout was exceptional this year, bringing all ages to “Stomp Out Cancer” at the Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499.

This year set an all-time record, Scharp said more than $30,000 was raised to assist people in their fight against cancer.

“We still have outstanding donations coming in,” said Scharp. “This is the most money we have ever raised in the eight years we have held this. We are pretty excited about that.”

The walk also had a great turnout.

Taking on the chilly weather and heavy snowfall, dozens of residents gathered at the VFW Walsh Post No. 4499 for the walk, hiking past Madison Elementary into the Packaging Corporation of America property through a wintry woodland trail.

“The walk has changed a little bit, and last year the weather was not that great,” Scharp said. “The walk is actually really beautiful. We have a really nice piece of property to walk on, and of course, we got a little bit of snow so we had to bust out the snowshoes.”

Bringing the event indoors, a cornhole tournament, chili/soup cook off, live music, silent auction and bartending contest were all held inside, lasting well into the evening. For those who wanted to enjoy the northern Michigan weather, a fire pit was set up outside of the VFW.

“We have given out $161,000 to local cancer patients in Manistee and Mason counties over the years,” said Scharp. “We have a great turnout. It’s a diverse event, so there’s a ton of fun stuff to do.”

This year’s celebrity bartenders heated up the competition and hit the streets for donations, and also rallied up more money at the event behind the bar.

A total of six teams were competing for the top prize including: Team Filer Credit Union, Jenny Jans and Kim Maelstrom; Team Manistee County Council on Aging, Sarah Howard, Jo Hall and Nancy Fortin; Team The Heat is On, Rachael Clouse, Glen Haglund and Jackie Boyd; Team Chopo’s Northside Bar, Josh Sagala and Mason Waligorski; Team MAPS, Cassie Miller, Kris Johnson and Wendy Adamski; and Team Corrections, Al Cole and Scott Adamczyk.

Bringing in the highest total, Team Chopo’s Northside Bar, the defending champions, won this year’s celebrity bartending contest at $14,000 raised for the fight against cancer.

For the cornhole tournament, Duker Ward and Ryan Argue took the lead, winning the overall competition. Lisa Senters also was the winner of the chili/soup cook off.

“Our celebrity bartending teams got involved this year, and they went out and solicited donations ahead of time and to get items for the silent auction,” Scharp said. “It’s a big friendly competition. There’s no prize, it’s all just pride; it’s become a pretty heated competition.”

The silent auction this year had plenty of donations, Scharp said the donations surpassed that of many years. Tables were stocked with items like beach gear, certificates, paintings and other items sold to the highest bid.

“Every year gets a little bit bigger,” Vasquez said. “It’s a very laid back event, and everybody knows everyone. The silent auction was also a huge hit with people.”

A bake sale, raffle and “Snowshoe Stampede” gear for sale were also featured at the event, along with live music from Larry Bialik and the Rambling Band followed by the Red Hot Daddies, Junk Monkey and Sufferin Suckatash.

While signing up for the walk, attendees were also able to write names on several poster boards, commemorating and honoring those who survive and were lost to cancer.

“We have helped 218 cancer patients in Manistee and Mason counties,” said Scharp. “We have done anything from helping cancer patient pay bills, fill up propane tanks, pay utility bills, do car repair and pay travel and lodging for those who do treatments out of town.

“It’s very important to the community because it’s hard to find somebody whose life has not been touched by cancer.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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