13th annual bake sale to help fight ALS set for Dec. 7

A Christmas Bake Sale, hosted by Gloria Blakeslee, will return to Christmas on Historic Broadway Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Spring Valley Community Center for the 13th year.

Proceeds from the bake sale will again go to helping people living with ALS through a snowmobile event called the Black Woods Blizzard Tour. However, a new charitable organization, Never Surrender, Inc., will be heading up the fundraiser.

Blakeslee’s son, Wes, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1998 and died in 2003, had a motto of “never surrender.” He was very active in ALS fundraising when he lived in Roseau in northern Minnesota.

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour completed its 20th anniversary ride last February, raising a record-breaking sum of more than $1.2 million to battle ALS. Beginning Jan. 29, the world’s single largest snowmobile fundraiser will commence its 21st year, aiming to again raise over $1 million.

Beginning in 1999 with a group of four riders raising $15,000, the Black Woods Blizzard Tour has grown into a multi-day ride with more than 230 snowmobilers journeying from Proctor to Lake Vermilion to Two Harbors and back in an effort to raise funds and awareness about Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The millions of dollars raised by the ride over the past two decades have gone to help individuals living with ALS, as well as to lend support to their families and caregivers.

The Black Woods Blizzard Tour continues to grow in popularity, and a waiting list is already in place for the 2020 ride. In order to continue providing the most efficient and effective support for this event, organizers made a strategic decision earlier this year to transition the Black Woods Blizzard Tour into its own charitable organization: Never Surrender, Inc. This new 501(c)(3) organization is made up of the same dedicated volunteers and long-time riders that have grown the Black Woods Blizzard Tour into the world-class fundraising event it is today, and the new structure has allowed for expanded flexibility and effectiveness in maximizing every dollar raised to support those living with ALS, as well as their caregivers, according to organizers.

This structural decision was made in partnership with The ALS Association of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, which previously served as the direct charitable entity that received the funds generated by the event. Their organization will continue to be a beneficiary of the dollars raised by the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, and the intent of the tour is entirely unchanged from the previous two decades – raise as much money as possible to help those suffering from ALS.

Going forward, all donations to the Black Woods Blizzard Tour can be submitted to Never Surrender, Inc., 4894 Miller Trunk Hwy, Duluth, MN 55811 with checks addressed to Never Surrender, Inc.