Ski for Heart fundraiser turns 41

Ski for Heart is a fundraiser held by the Heart and Stroke Foundation that took place at Chateau Lake Louise Jan. 20 and 21.

“It’s a celebration that takes place the third week of January every year,” Matt Paterson, a senior co-ordinator for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said in an interview prior to the kick of the fundraiser.

Currently, Ski for Heart is in its 41 year and has become one of Alberta’s longest running fundraising events.

Paterson stressed that anyone could come down and enjoy the activities.

“I don’t expect them to raise money, I just want them to show up and raise awareness,” said Paterson.

You didn’t need to be a skier to enjoy the events taking place as there were other options available such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skating.

Some people just sat back with a cup of hot chocolate and watched ice carvers create amazing sculptures at the Ice Magic Festival, which was also part of the weekend.

Big Hearted: Matt Paterson sits in a conference room at the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s office in Calgary on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Paterson is a Senior Coordinator with the Heart and Stroke Foundation who is helping organize the 41st year of the Ski for Heart fundraiser at Chateau Lake Louise. (Photo by Mitch Sparks/The Press)

“I accidentally stumbled upon the event a few years back, and it ended up being a really great day,” said Calgary outdoor enthusiast Patrick Harris.

“I was just going to go skating at Lake Louise with some friends, but it turned into an entire day of amazing outdoor fun with the Ski for Heart guys.”

This year’s guest speakers included Olympic Speed Skaters Denny Morrison and Josie Spence, both of whom have close ties to the event.

In April of 2016, Morrison noticed one of his legs began dragging while on a cycling trip in Utah.

Spence, who is also Morrison’s fiancé, was there with him when his symptoms started to appear and said she thought he had had a stroke. At first, Morrison laughed it off.

Both were shocked to find out soon after that Morrison did, in fact, suffer a stroke even though he was healthy and active, and they became advocates in raising awareness.

Along with both speaking at the Ski for Heart event, Morrison was also out on the ice-skating rink with other skaters.

“You can literally show up to this event and ski with an Olympic athlete, you don’t even have to sign-up before hand,” said Paterson.

Ski for Heart raises an average of around $100,000 every year and had raised more than $50,000 prior to the start of the fundraiser, according to their website.

Another notable speaker expected at the event was Dr. Michael Hill, a Calgary neuroscientist who recently received a reward of merit for his service with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I don’t expect them to raise money, I just want them to show up and raise awareness. – Matt Paterson

Hill specializes in treating stroke patients, and was Morrison’s doctor after his return from Utah. He has been heavily involved with the Heart and Stroke community.

For more information on the event, visit Ski for Heart’s website here.

About Mitch Sparks 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Mitch Sparks is working as a reporter for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.