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Race for the Mountains to benefit mountain towns

KEELY BROWN
special to the daily

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Like so many great achievements in world history and human philanthropy, it all started with a book.

Last year, Breckenridge resident Shannon Galpin opened up a copy of “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. The book relates how, after a failed attempt to reach the peak of K2, Mortenson wondered alone into a remote village in northern Pakistan.

After the villagers nursed him back to health, he vowed to return to them one day and build a school for the impoverished community.

Mortenson returned to build that first school, as well as other schools in other communities. His commitment resulted in the creation of the Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit responsible for building 58 schools throughout northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Mongolia plains. This past year, CAI educated 24,000 children in northern Pakistan and other areas in Central Asia. Through the CAI, villages also learn to control their own sustainability by creating sources for water, food and other essentials.

After reading “Three Cups of Tea,” Galpin envisioned the creation of a charity that would connect the Colorado High Country lifestyle with a way of raising money for other mountain communities throughout the world. She first contacted her friend Tara Dugan, a manager at Hamlet’s Bookshoppe in Breckenridge. With Dugan’s marketing background and Galpin’s experience as an educator overseas, Mountain to Mountain became a reality within four months.

The goal of Mountain to Mountain is to support a different charity each year ” one which focuses on education or environmental issues in mountain villages that are often lost-or-forgotten by other charitable organizations.

“We need to find ways to support these forgotten people in forgotten communities, people that even their own countries aren’t supporting,” Galpin said. “With the CAI, we love looking at how little it takes to change people’s lives.”

The owner of Oasis 9600, a wellness and Pilates studio in Breckenridge, Galpin moved to Summit County after spending 10 years living as a Pilates instructor in Europe and Lebanon. As a result of years spent living and touring throughout Beirut, Syria and other “hot spots,” she strongly feels that, because of political restraints, there are certain areas of the world that are relatively unsupported in terms of charitable work.

“In general, Americans don’t support a lot of charities there,” she said. “It’s not a place where we have a base of tourism. Because it’s politically volatile, it’s a misunderstood area.”

This past March, Galpin hosted an inaugural kick-off for Mountain to Mountain, featuring the showing of a film produced in Pakistan, “Osama.” This coming June, Mountain to Mountain will host its next big event, an author signing and lecture at the Riverwalk Center by Greg Mortenson, where he will discuss “Three Cups of Tea” and the work going on with the CAI.

In the meantime, Galpin is gearing up for another big June event for Mountain to Mountain ” one she hopes will become an annual High Country tradition. The “Race for the Mountains” will take place on June 24, starting at 9 a.m. from the Miner’s parking lot at the gondola base station on Park Avenue in Breckenridge.

The event will include different trail races to suit every runner and walker, including a 10-mile long course, a 5K, and a “fun run” children’s race of less than a mile with a treasure hunt thrown in. With live music, raffles, prizes, beer, refreshments and even a “chocolate aid station” for non-runners, the “Race for the Mountains” will be a real community event rather than just another athletic endurance race.

Galpin said that, because of major sponsorships from companies such as REI and Wild Oats, the Race for the Mountains will be able to channel 100 percent of its entry fees directly toward the CAI. Thanks to the 25 sponsors already on board, all costs of putting on the race will be covered by sponsorship donations. Deadline for sponsoring the event is Wednesday, April 18.

Through events such as these, Mountain to Mountain hopes to raise a minimum of $50,000 for the CAI this year, an amount that would cover the cost of building and supplying one school.

Each year after this, Mountain to Mountain will choose a worthy recipient from remote communities worldwide, with the money going toward education and environmental concerns. And true to its name and mission statement, Galpin said that Mountain to Mountain will always focus its efforts on other mountain communities, wherever they may be.

“What makes the mountain community here unique is that we’re so passionate about the outdoors, but we have a great mix of people here who are culturally aware and also very philanthropically active,” said Galpin. “This is about tapping into that, and using it to support other mountain communities as well.”

– When: June 24 at 9 a.m.

– Where: Miners parking lot at the base of the gondola in Breckenridge.

– Entry fees: $45 for the 10-mile course, and $35 for the 5k-course.

– Note: A kid’s Fun Run and treasure hunt will also be featured, as well as prizes, refreshments, beer from Breckenridge Brewery and live music.

– What: “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson will be signing copies of his book and giving a lecture following high tea

– When: June 14

– Where: Riverwalk Center on June 14.

– Admission: The book signing and author lecture after the high tea is free to the public, but a $5 donation at the door is suggested. $75 a person for the high tea event. Contact Mountain to Mountain for a reservation at http://www.mountain2mountain.com or (970) 376-0754.


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