By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week
(Published March. 9, 2007, 1:38 p.m.)
Snowmobilers are happy this winter with the large amounts of snow we've accumulated and most are just happy to bundle up and hit the trails. But the Pleasant Lakers Snowmobile Club doesn't stop there, they take their club much farther.
Each year they hold Chili Days at Carp & Joe's Crossroads in Elkhorn, a one-day fund-raising event including raffles and a chili contest/dump/sale. Monies collected go to one or more community causes. Their event was so successful this year that thaey raised $3,000 helping six area causes.
Groups benefiting $500 apiece include Hope Now, Inc., the LaGrange Fire Department, VIP Industries, Lakeland School, The Time Is Now and an Elkhorn family in need of a hand.
"Members' stepped up and donated wonderful prizes for their hourly raffles," said Laura Yurs. "The club purchased beautiful cuts of meat that were offered on their hourly meat raffles and after a chili judging, with a traveling trophy at stake, the dumped chili was sold by the bowl or slathered on a (hot) dog, raising $3,000 in one afternoon."
Recipients were chosen because of need, Yurs said. Club members chose causes they'd heard were in need of support by word of mouth.
"We've been giving to the LaGrange Fire Department every year because they're the ones who help people on our trails, so we support them always. Also a steady on their list is Lakeland School because of the close association Mary Scaro, a founding member of the club, has had with it.
"Everybody knows how badly VIP needs a new building, and we have always helped Sal (Time Is Now). We added VIP and Hope Now this year because we knew they had a real need. Plus we heard of an Elkhorn family that needed help-we try to keep our ear to the ground."
Yurs and the rest of the group want to let people know that while not everybody appreciates snowmobilers, not all snowmobilers are alike and many are real attributes to the community.
"There are a lot of people that don't like snowmobilers," she said. "People hear the noise and don't understand why we're there. We want people to know that we're a very organized, family-oriented club and keep the rules of the trail our No. 1 priority."
The Pleasant Lakers require that all members, especially newcomers to the sport, complete a class about the rules of the trails, roads and sport and highly encourage every snowmobiler to belong to a club.
The minimal dues collected in clubs pay for the trails' maintenance and existence."We want people to know rules, plus being in a club helps pay for the trails to be there in the first place. In clubs we have rules and safety courses so children learn rules of the trails and proper hand signals-all of these things are really important."
"United we trail, divided we fail," said Bob O'Neill, president, at the event. "All who ride snowmobiles need to join a club. Every time a new subdivision is put up, another section of trail is sometimes lost and it is the snowmobile clubs that counteract that progression.
"If you ride you have to respect the landowners and stay on the trail. It is a privilege, not a right and it's the clubs that work to keep trails in our area."
For information on joining the Pleasant Lakers Snowmobile Club call 742-4730.