One million vertical feet in one day.
That was the goal of the relay team from Six Pack Sports when it caught the first chair at Keystone Resort Wednesday morning. The 10 skiers weren't aiming for fame, though, they were aiming to raise money for a good cause.
The Six Pack Sports team took on its Million Vertical Feet Challenge to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. Overall, the team raised nearly $13,000 for the nonprofit organization.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides at-risk children with mentors. Its reach is national, with roots in Colorado going back to 1918. In 2012, the program supported roughly 1,900 mentoring relationships in the Denver and Pikes Peak areas.
Mike Kirkland, commissioner at Six Pack Sports for the last four years, has participated in Million Vertical Feet challenges in the past in other states. This year, he decided to bring the challenge to himself and his colleagues at Six Pack Sports to benefit a good cause.
The money raised by Wednesday's challenge will to go start the inaugural Sports Buddies ski day. Sports Buddies is a program offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters in which children and their mentors participate in organized activities, including attending and playing team sports. The money raised by Kirkland and his colleagues will provide for transportation, ski lift tickets, rental equipment and lunch for the participating children.
Kirkland plans to help make the Sports Buddies ski day an annual event.
"We're going to have a heap of these," he said.
Six Pack Sports is dedicated to promoting sports and similar activities throughout the community. A year-round sports league based out of Denver and Boulder, Six Pack Sports provides opportunities for adults to get together and share their love of sports.
Raising money for children to enjoy sports just made sense, Kirkland said. "I thought it was a natural fit for the fact that we do adult sporting events."
Kirkland's team did the math for what they would need to do in order to achieve its 1 million vertical feet in one day challenge. By completing 44 runs each, they could accomplish approximately 100,000 vertical feet per person.
"We got the first chair up and we're going all the way through the night skiing," Kirkland said from the gondola Wednesday. He and his companions chose Keystone Resort, they said, because of the night skiing option. They needed to ski for 11-and-a-half hours straight to meet their target, and even ate their sandwich lunches while riding up the gondola.
"It's a grind. We're bombing every single run. We need to go straight down the mountain every time," Kirkland said. He paused, then added, "It's a lot of fun."