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Raffle benefits medical research

BRECKENRIDGE – Tickets are still available for a $450,000 Mountain Thunder Lodge condominium being raffled to benefit spinal cord research at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Ten thousand tickets, each costing $150, will be sold. The raffle will be held when tickets sell out. They are available by calling (877) 722-2873 or by logging onto

gatewaytoacure.org.



Proceeds from the raffle will benefit spinal cord research at Washington University in St. Louis. The fund-raising arm for the research includes Gateway to a Cure, a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis. It was founded in 1996 by Lou and Candy Sengheiser after their son Jason suffered an allergic reaction to an over-the-counter medication, fell over a second-floor banister and broke his neck. Jason, a quadriplegic, is now 24 and in his last year of law school.

Lou said he wasn’t sure how many raffle tickets have been sold so far, but the raffle is still scheduled to take place in the spring.



“Ticket sales were off to a slow start due to the economic downturn,” Lou said. “But telephone and Internet ticket orders are picking up as a result of recent media coverage of spinal cord injury advancements.”

Other prizes to be raffled off include 14 Colorado ski vacation packages and $60,000 in gift certificates to national outdoor equipment retailers.

A good start

So far, Gateway to a Cure has raised more than $2 million through hockey tournaments and luxury home raffles in the St. Louis area. The family decided to expand their efforts to Breckenridge, where Jason has skied with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center since 1995, a year after his accident.

“They said Jason would go from a wheelchair to a coffin,” Lou said. “We refused to believe that, with today’s advancements in medical technology, we should just give up.”

They are further buoyed by improvements made by Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed when he fell from a horse in 1995. Recently, he has been able to move a finger and has some sensation in his legs. He credits extensive therapy for his advancements.

“The progress of Christopher Reeve has been an inspiration to Jason and our family, and we are working harder than ever to support this momentum at the community level,” Lou said. “Fund-raising efforts like the Breckenridge raffle are what make these advancements possible, by supporting research and providing rehabilitation equipment to people with spinal cord injuries. The goal of Gateway to a Cure is to raise funds that will enable all people with spinal cord injury to receive the advanced treatment and care that has been vital to Mr. Reeve’s progress. His progress has helped spotlight the need for funding, and people looking to make a difference are now participating in our fund raiser.”

Search for a cure

Researchers told the Sengheisers a lack of funding was the main barrier to progress in spinal cord advancements. They also told them a cure could be found within five years – if researchers had $200 million, said Mike Sebastian, spokesman for Patrick Davis Communications, which represents Gateway to a Cure.

“That’s Lou’s goal,” Sebastian said this summer. “To raise $200 million and see his son walk again.”

The Sengheisers didn’t want to raise funds by looking for handouts, he said.

“Lou likes to give people the opportunity to walk away with something besides a good feeling,” Sebastian said. “He didn’t ever walk around with his hand out. He wants to give something to people for helping the cause.”

Raffles in St. Louis have proved successful, “But the family wanted to investigate something a little bigger, a little nicer – something with a little more national appeal,” Sebastian said. “Lou had seen Mountain Thunder Lodge in its infancy and always had it in the back of his mind.”

The condominium includes a master bedroom, kitchen with appliances, living and dining area with television, VCR and Internet connections, fireplace, private balcony and furniture. Other amenities in the complex include heated underground parking, heated outdoor pool, three outdoor hot tubs, a pool house, an exercise room, laundry room, private ski lockers and a lounge.

The event will raise $1.5 million – $1 million of which will go to Gateway to a Cure, Sebastian said. The remaining money will pay for the condominium because Lou Sengheiser insists on purchasing all the prizes. It has yet to be determined how the winning ticket will be drawn, but the drawing should take place sometime in the spring.

Jason Sengheiser said earlier this year he refuses to let his paralysis get in the way of his life’s goals. He works out and participates in rehabilitation, keeping his body in shape for the day research is able to help him walk again.

“I don’t think anyone should accept a spinal cord injury as permanent,” he said. “A cure should be in everyone’s long-term goals.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

Condo-maximum

The condo includes a master bedroom, kitchen with appliances, living and dining area with

television, VCR and Internet connections, fireplace, private balcony and furniture. Other amenities in the complex include heated underground parking, heated outdoor pool, three outdoor hot tubs, a pool house, an exercise room, laundry room, private ski lockers and a lounge.


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