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Modified Sunrise Ascent a success for ASPNC



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The Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country celebrated fitness challenge accomplishments with a sunrise car parade to the summit of Mount Washington on Aug 2. (Photo by Thomas Shovlin) (click for larger version)
August 13, 2020
GORHAM — The 11th annual Sunrise Ascent looked different for the North Country's Adaptive Sports Partners this year, but it was a success nonetheless. Held on Aug. 2, the event was a motorcade up the Mount Washington Auto Road instead of the traditional early morning hike. The Sunrise Ascent has historically been ASPNC's largest annual fundraiser. Last year, participants raised more than $130,000.

"Due to COVID, we started thinking about how to run this important event for our organization this year. We wanted to encourage regular, consistent exercise and activity so we hosted a July challenge," explained ASPNC Executive Director Thomas Shovlin.

The non-profit invited people to collectively log more than 6,288 miles through the course of the month. Each mile represented one foot of the height of Mount Washington.

Participants logged their human-powered activities through such apps as Strava or by submitting spreadsheets. Because it was a virtual challenge, the event saw 170 registrants from 24 states and eight countries. Approximately $65,000 was raised for the Adaptive Sports Partners.

"We quickly realized that our goal was very inadequate. By the end of the month, our group totaled over 23,800 miles throughout the month. We had people logging miles while hand-cycling, hiking, biking, rock climbing, kayaking and even lawn mowing," stated Shovlin.

According to the Executive Director, weekly incentives were delivered to participants, including a photo challenge. Jeremy Ward won with night sky photography of the Comet NEOWISE.

When asked about the fiscal impact of COVID-19, Shovlin said, "We projected to be down at least 50 percent this year, and it looks like that is about where we will fall. Given the circumstances, we were proud of everyone who participated in this event. We knew that fundraising would be a challenge this year, regardless."

Shovlin said the group wanted to celebrate the success of their mileage challenge. They reached out to officials at the Mount Washington Auto Road about doing a car parade.

"They are such generous partners and make this all possible for us. They suggested doing it at sunrise," noted Shovlin.

Approximately 80 participants met at the base of the mountain at 4 a.m. to begin the drive. They reached the summit at 5:15 a.m., and the sun rose at 5:33 a.m.

"It was one of the most magical sunrises that I've seen on Mount Washington. As we appreciated the view, it started drizzling and we turned around to see a huge rainbow spanning across the horizon," exclaimed the Executive Director.

Shovlin continued, "There was a big team celebrating Tom Norcott and another one honoring one of our Sunrise Ascent athletes who passed away. It was a special moment for many people. We were happy that we were able to do it and put together such an awesome experience."

Varney Smith
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