2018 Black Woods Blizzard Tour Looks to Surpass One Million Dollars

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour Supports the ALS Association Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Chapter

PROCTOR, Minn. – Over 200 snowmobile riders and dozens of volunteers are warmed up Thursday evening at Fortune Bay Resort in Tower, Minnesota.

The 19th Annual Black Woods Blizzard Tour started early Thursday morning as riders bundled up and revved up their engines, all for a good cause.

“My blood is going, I love it! It doesn’t get any better than this,” said rider Gerald “Yogi” Koble.

A battle with ALS is far from uplifting, but the folks who fundraise to find a cure couldn’t be more excited.

“Along the way, you make memories,” said Koble.

Through a plume of exhaust, headlights shined bright.

“People can’t wait to get out on the trails; they’ve been waiting for this,” said Jennifer Hjelle, Executive Director of the ALS Association Minnesota, North and South Dakota Chapter.

Riders, rising early, bundling up and starting their engines.

“They’ve been planning for this specific tour, since last year,” said Hjelle. “The passion of our riders that do this even just continues to grow.”

French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot first discovered ALS in 1869. However, an ALS diagnosis for baseball legend Lou Gehrig in 1939 would bring national and international attention to the disease.

Snowmobile rider Greg Sorenson is no stranger to the Black Woods Blizzard Tour.

“The first year I think we had 42 riders, this year we have 40 new riders,” said Sorenson.

“In July of 1998, two of us were sitting in the garage sipping on a cold Windsor and we thought as long as we’re doing long distance rides what’s going to be our next adventure,” said Sorenson.

Come winter, a group of four dedicated snowmobilers layered up and hopped on their sleds. The trip would take them over 2,000 miles on the Lake Superior Circle Tour.

“My dad who knew all summer that we were planning this ride, five days before the ride, he came and told me that he had been diagnosed with ALS,” said Sorenson.

The disease would later take his father, in 2005.

In the meantime, Sorenson and his friends created the Blizzard Tour. Year-after-year, more people took to the trails and more money was raised.

“My dad and I were close so I think about him often,” said Sorenson.

Nineteen years ago Blizzard Tour riders raised over $14,000. This year they’re looking to exceed $1 million.

“It’s time to catch up with people that we might only see one time of year,” said Hjelle.

“It’s kind of like a spider web, it just keeps going further and further out,” said Koble.

As the riders and hardworking volunteers spend the next few days deep in the north woods of Minnesota, there will be plenty of quiet time to think, remembering the reason for this ride.

“Next year, come out and join us because you will never forget it and it’ll be a passion from there on,” said Koble.

“The goal is to keep going, and let’s keep this moving so eventually we can just have one big stinking party because we’ve found a cure for this disease,” said Hjelle.

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour will wrap up Saturday as riders make their way back to Duluth.

A banquet will take place at Cirrus Aircraft as organizers announce how much money was raised this year.

Click here to learn more about ALS.

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