WEST SAND LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On February 27, STRIDE Adaptive Sports is hosting its eighth annual 100k Vertical Challenge at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. It is an all-day team relay race to raise funds and awareness for adaptive sports programs serving youth and Wounded Warriors with disabilities. Approximately 20 teams of four will attempt the challenge, meaning each skier will have to complete 23 runs for the 100,000-vertical-foot goal to be reached.

Mobility-impaired and visually impaired skier Heather DeDecko took her first ski lesson with STRIDE Adaptive Sports in 2014, and now is a member of the STRIDE race team. DeDecko and her VI Guide, along with two STRIDE coaches on their team, will participate in the challenge. The team calls themselves “The Knights of Ni.” Several other teams also include participants with disabilities, including mono-skiers—wheelchair users in sit-skis.

DeDecko, paralyzed from birth, skis using stand-outriggers and uses a radio headset between her and her visual impairment guide, Marcel Chaine, to guide her with voice commands down the mountain. DeDecko plans to ski about 15 runs for her team, and says, “STRIDE is near and dear to my heart because I see it helps so many people year after year. I believe experiences in the pool, on the dance floor, or the mountain belong to everyone. So, for me, the 100K is more like a celebration of all STRIDE does, and I get to hang out with some of my favorite people doing a sport I love!”

STRIDE’s founder and CEO, Mary Ellen Whitney, expressed high hopes for the fundraising event. “This event has typically been our biggest fundraiser of the year. Last year we raised $54,000 to support STRIDE programs. The 2023 goal is $75,000 to support all adaptive ski programs run by STRIDE at 3 resorts. We need all the help we can get, so teams are welcome to join us!”

Costumes, music, and celebration are key parts of the day, an event spokesperson noted. Delmar Fire Company puts together a team and skis in their full firefighting gear—and they challenge all other fire companies to join in.

Registration is open online for both individuals and teams. To support DeDecko or any other STRIDE participant with a donation, visit the STRIDE website. The event starts at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 27, at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Massachusetts, and continues until the racers are finished.