Burning up the winter blues

Wednesday November 21, 2012

MANCHESTER -- Skiing may not sound like the best idea when you’re worried about staying warm in the winter. But in its 13 years the Ski for Heat fundraiser has raised $225,000 for low-income residents of Southern Vermont to pay for heating during the harsh winters. And while the main event isn’t until Jan. 27, the 5th annual Hot Blues for Cold Nights Concert to Benefit Ski for Heat is right around the corner.

The event is Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Club on Routes 11 and 30 in Manchester.

"It’s been growing every year," Martha Robertson, founder and head of the event.

The main event started 13 years ago when Robertson wanted to give heat as a gift to her friends, but was having difficulty paying her own bills. She decided that she would get people to sponsor her as she skied and the money she raised would go to those who needed to pay for heating oil.

"It’s about the community," she said. "All the money stays local."

The event is all-inclusive, any donation amount is welcome.

"We make it so that everyone has access to (the event). If someone has two dollars to give that’s great," Robertson said. "We want people to come and have a good time."

As with the prior four years the concert stars Bob Stannard, a local musician. His band is made up of a changing crew of professional musicians. Stannard works primarily as a lobbyist, but is a professional musician in his spare time. However, he doesn’t charge for his services at the yearly Ski for Heat concert.

"I’m just very lucky that I’ve come into the circles of really great players," Stannard said.

Stannard, who has played music since 1969, has a carefree attitude when it comes to his shows.

"I haven’t rehearsed a show in 15-20 years," he said. "I just send a suggested set list to the band."

But that doesn’t mean they’re casual about the quality of the music.

"They come in and they play like they are playing for a king," Robertson said.

Stannard and Robertson met through a single email she sent to him years ago asking him to be a part of the event.

"I sent him an email and he said ‘I can think of nothing I’d rather do,’" Robertson said.

Since the pair teamed up for the event, Stannard was offered a job lobbying for low-income weatherization, out of pure coincidence. But Stannard disputes the existence of coincidences.

"Life is a really amusing thing if you’re paying attention to it," he said.

The Main Event

Ski for Heat is a cross-country skiing and snowshoeing fundraiser on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, that benefits the Shareheat Fund at BROC. Wild Wings Ski Touring Center in Peru donates the use of its trails, waiving its trail fees, to participants in the event.

Clark’s Quality Foods in Londonderry is Ski for Heat’s title sponsor.

Tyler Electric & Security Inc. in Dorset is the presenting sponsor for the Hot Blues for Cold Days Benefit Concert.

Tickets for the concert are available online atwww.skiforheat.org, at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, or by contacting skiforheat@vermontel.net, and will be sold at the door. The suggested donation is $20.


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