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Play It Forward to Benefit Local Charities



Mountain Challenges, Auctions, Vendor Village and More

By Eva Potter

While paying it forward is always very satisfying, adding a little play to the equation makes it fun and exciting, too.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, Holiday Valley will host its newest event, Play It Forward, complete with outdoor and indoor family fun, challenges, prizes, auctions and more. And this skiing and snowboarding event is designed to keep 100 percent of the fundraising proceeds in the Western New York area!

Local ski and snowboard shops are working together to make this a fantastic day on the slopes, including demo equipment you can take for a spin. A Vendor Village will be set up on the Plaza Deck between the Resort Services Center and the Lodge and will include shops, Intense Milk sampling, possibly some ski and snowboard reps, sponsor booths and more. Fun-spirited competition will rise to the surface during the silent and Chinese auctions. Finally, the day comes to a close with a rousing after-ski party.

“This is your chance to participate in the first annual Play it Forward event, and not only will it be a fun time, but you’ll be supporting several worthwhile charities in WNY,” said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at Holiday Valley.

Play It Forward, similar to the Boarding for Breast Cancer event from prior years, aims to spread financial support among a long list of Western New York and local organizations, including Camp Good Days, the Ellicottville Food Pantry, Almost Home Animal Sanctuary, the Ellicottville/Great-Valley Ambulance Service and the Holiday Valley and HoliMont adaptive ski programs.

Make a Difference

Both snowboarders and skiers are welcome to participate in the day-long list of activities, including the Vertical Challenge – a fun, resort-wide activity that everyone can enjoy, no matter your age.

Starting Jan. 15, you can register online to participate in the Vertical Challenge by visiting  Just follow the link in the second paragraph.

It only costs $10 to register and, once you’re registered, you will be redirected to Kindful, a fundraising website, where you can create your own page that will allow your friends, family and business associates to support your efforts. You can also bring donations on the day of the event. Note: there is a minimum fundraising goal of $40.

With two ways to win fantastic prizes, go big and raise as much as you can for these community-supporting charities. One lucky and hardworking winner will go home with the Top Fundraiser prize, and the skier or boarder with the most vertical feet recorded that day will also win a cool prize. Vertical feet will be recorded using cell phone apps.

“With an app, we don’t have to limit the Vertical Challenge to just one hill, so it will be much more fun for the competitors and guests all over the resort to interact with the competitors,” Eshbaugh said.

Another way you can help Play It Forward is by visiting supporting Ellicottville ski and boarding shops — The Boardroom, Mud Sweat N’ Gears, The City Garage and Dekdebruns — and dropping off gently used winter clothing and nonperishable food. These shops will be working hard to promote participation and will be contacting their suppliers for donations of prizes that will be awarded during the event.

Tributes, Challenges and Auctions

On the day of the event, register from 9-11 a.m. in the Birdie Room on the top floor of the Holiday Valley Lodge. Then head to the top of Mardi Gras to line up for the 10:45 a.m. Tribute Ride.

“It’s a chance to reflect on those who have or had cancer and their caregivers,” said Eshbaugh. “It is the kickoff to the event and the Vertical Challenge will start right after the Tribute Ride.”

Be sure to purchase your pink Tribute Ride bell for only $10 at the bottom of Mardi Gras, bring your bells from last year or bring your own and get ready to make some noise! Proceeds from the sale of bells will go to the event.

The resort-wide Vertical Challenge takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so get ready to burn up your quads with as many runs as you can handle.

Eshbaugh explained that Vertical Challenge competitors are invited to participate in bonus activities to boost their final scores.

“The (challenges) are set up for one-hour intervals, so you can race NASTAR between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., get a bonus card, then make some runs and go on to the next challenge,” said Eshbaugh. “They are designed to get you to ski the entire mountain. They’re optional, but can add to your score.”

Other challenges include taking a NASTAR run, eating a hot dog at the Safety Cookout, sliding at the Fort and riding the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster to search for a specific Clan Rock.

From noon to 5 p.m., check out the Chinese and silent auctions filled with interesting items and must-have themed baskets. You can purchase Chinese auction tickets to drop in cans in front of the items you would like to win. A drawing will determine the winners.

The silent auction has always been a highlight of the weekend where, in past years, people have scored Sabres and Bisons jerseys, Sabres tickets and  hockey stick, autographed football, John Harvard’s gift basket, ski and snowboard clothing, helmets, goggles, hats, gloves, snowboards and bindings and much more, Eshbaugh said.

The highest bidder on each silent auction bid sheet determines the winner.

“Anyone is welcome to come check out the auction,” Eshbaugh explained.

The Play It Forward day will wrap up starting at 5 p.m. in the Birdie Room with awards and merriment.

Become a Sponsor

Want to become a Play It Forward sponsor? Contact Eshbaugh, Spencer Timkey or Kristen Sciara at (716) 699-2345 or download the form (available soon) at Sponsorship levels come with a variety of perks.

In addition, Eshbaugh encourages anyone interested in volunteering at the event (set up the auction, sell tickets for the auction, man the challenges on the mountain, etc.) to give her a call.

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