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Snowmobile tour raises funds for ALS

Whitey Mogren (third from the left) is pictured with several of the participants in the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, including former Twins great Kent Hrbek (left).

The largest snowmobile fundraising event in the world, the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, achieved a new fundraising milestone raising more than $503,000 at its annual event, held Feb. 4-6.

There were 153 riders, the most ever, who rode nearly 400 miles over three days, raising money for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known at Lou Gehrig's disease.

The group included the event's celebrity host, former Minnesota Twins catcher Terry Steinbach. Steinbach lost his father to ALS in 1999.

He was joined by Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, hitting coach Joe Vavra and former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek. Hrbek also lost his father to this disease in 1982.

Whitey Mogren, of Somerset, participated in the Blizzard Tour for the second straight year. He enjoys seeing the camaraderie of the riders and volunteers working together to make a difference in the lives of those battling ALS.

Riders collected minimum donations of between $900 and $1,200 to participate in this fundraising event. (Past riders collected $900; new riders collected $1,200.) Participants rode in organized groups from Proctor to Lake Vermilion on day one, more than 150 miles. On day two, riders rode from Lake Vermilion to Two Harbors, another 150 miles. Riders traveled the last leg of the trip on the third day, from Two Harbors to Proctor, approximately 70 miles.

This year's top fundraiser was the Polaris team of Roseau, Minn. The team raised more than $67,000 through local community events and pledges. Second place went to Dave Telschow (Savage, Minn.) who raised $30,800. Gardenhire raised $21,800 to win third place honors.

Nearly $3 million has been raised from the Black Woods Blizzard Tour in 11 years. These funds help support the services offered by The ALS Association, Minnesota Chapter, to persons with ALS and their families in Minnesota, North Dakota and parts of Wisconsin. Services include a Communication and Assistive Device Program, Family Respite Care Program, Durable Medical Equipment Loan Pools, support groups, consultation and support, lending library and advocacy. The ALS Association also helps to fund nationally directed research to find a cause and cure for ALS.