Cynthia's Challenge delivers new van for local family


Fourth annual ski-a-thon at King Pine raised funds for purchase of van for Holts


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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

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DOUG HOLT wheels his daughter, Faith, into the family's new van at Crescent Lake School last week. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 05, 2017
WOLFEBORO — Four years ago, Cynthia's Challenge was started as a way to raise money for local sixth grader Cynthia Verrill, who was in need of a seizure dog.

Since then, the event, which is a 24-hour ski-a-thon, has continued to grow and in its four years, the money raised has helped to buy the aforementioned dog in addition to three cars for families who needed transportation for kids with special medical needs.

The most recent beneficiary was the Holt family and the family's new van was delivered to the Crescent Lake School in Wolfeboro on Tuesday, May 30, with the entire student body cheering on the sidewalk.

Faith Holt is an 11-year-old sixth grader at Crescent Lake School who lives with skeletal dysplasia, seizure disorder and Crane-Heise Syndrome and uses a wheelchair to get around.

Crescent Lake Principal James Reilly noted that Faith is fully involved in the school, which she has attended since fourth grade. Her brother, Cody, is also a student at the school.

"She's totally mainstreamed in the classrooms," Reilly noted.

Because of the recipient's connection to the school, Cynthia's Challenge this year took on a special meaning to the students at Crescent Lake. Reilly noted many of the students participated in the challenge, which is held at King Pine Ski Area in Madison and the school also held a penny challenge, in which grades battled for supremacy by depositing coins in buckets. Each penny was a positive, while nickels, dimes and quarters were negative points. Students could put pennies in their grades and other coins in other grades to help their own grades.

As the students gathered on the sidewalk in front of the school, with Faith and her dad, Doug and siblings Cody, Devin and Sean front and center, the Wolfeboro Police Department and Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue vehicles, sirens blaring and lights flashing, led the procession with the van into the school driveway.

Frank Tansey of Vertical Challenge took the microphone and commented on the day's weather, which threatened to move the ceremony inside.

"Today, the rain doesn't fall on our parade," Tansey said. "We had such a great time making this happen.

"Faith has a beautiful new van her dad can use to get her from point A to point B easier and more comfortably," Tansey added. "It's time to celebrate what we've done."

He praised the Crescent Lake kids for their passion and assistance in making Cynthia's Challenge a success this year.

"We can conquer anything we need to when we do it together," Tansey stated.

Tansey then went on to offer special thanks to Bob Hoyt of King Pine Ski Area.

"He did something no other resort has ever done," Tansey said. "He gave us the whole resort for 48 hours.

"That's something you just don't see anywhere else," he added.

Tansey also thanked Joe Ferrera of Yankee Smokehouse, who helped take care of the participants with food and other amenities and Eric Lajeunesse of MobilityWorks, which provided the specialized van.

"He made securing a van easier than ever," Tansey said of Lajeunesse.

Bolt Depot also signed on as a new sponsor this year and they also wanted to give something to Cody Holt for his continued support of his sister, and presented the youngster with an iPad.

"Your one cent, five cents, 10 cents, 25 cents turned to dollars, then tens, then hundreds and thousands," he added. "Don't forget that today was the legacy of a lifetime."

Tansey also thanked Stacey Verrill, who's daughter Cynthia was the force behind the event.

"It's because of Cynthia and Jersey (her seizure dog)," Tansey said. "That seizure dog started this whole thing."

He also urged the kids to look at the people to the left and right of them and remember that some day, those people may need help and to be there for them.

Hoyt, deflecting the praise from Tansey, thanked the entire community for making the event happen.

"Thanks to all of you and the entire community around us," Hoyt said. "We couldn't do it without your support.

"We're proud to do it and hope to do it for years to come," Hoyt added.

Stacey Verrill continues to be impressed by the legacy her daughter's quest for a service dog has built.

"We've gotten a dog and three vans," Verrill said, noting that they've raised almost $200,000 in three years. The organization also became an official 501c3 this year.

"We never thought we'd get to that point," Verrill said. "But we wanted to pay it forward in a heartbeat."

She also noted she's thankful that her daughter's name gets to be part of the legacy. Cynthia started high school this year and her mom reports that despite the big transition, things are going very well at Kingswood Regional High School.

"It's pretty cool to know that we started it and it's still going," she said. "And Cynthia's name is carrying on a legacy to help other families.

Reilly also pointed out that in addition to the van, a full year's registration and a full year of insurance were also fully funded for the Holt family.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com.

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