BEEKMANTOWN - The catastrophic earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands in Haiti last month has compelled children of the North Country to help the Caribbean nation.
The Beartown Ski Team, a group of young skiing enthusiasts ranging in age from 5-12 years old, met on the slopes of the Beartown Ski Area Jan. 31 for a special event to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, the international medical relief organization helping in the wake of the Jan. 12 quake.
Michael Collin, head coach of the Beartown Ski Team, said he wanted to organize an event that would help the Haiti relief effort, but be something that would interest the children of his team, as well.
"I came up with the idea of having a ski-athon to help raise money for Haiti," said Collin. "The kids went out and got pledges for 10 cents a run or whatever they could get from their parents, friends, teachers."
"It gave them some focus and I think they're excited," Collin added as he stood at base of the hill at the Beartown Ski Area, watching the children line up for the event.
Jeremy Muise, a third-grader at Seton Academy in Plattsburgh, was excited as he made his way to the hill for his first of 40 runs he planned to make for the day.
"We're raising money for Haiti by how man runs we can do," explained Muise. "So, if someone says they'll give us 25 cents per run and we do 40, we'll make $10 for Haiti."
Muise said he had collected $90 in pledges for his participation, which he said was a result of asking a lot of people.
"I ran around the whole neighborhood," said an enthusiastic Muise, smiling from ear to ear. "This feels pretty good."
Jacob Schiff, a six-year veteran of the slopes at age 9, said he was glad to be able to help Haiti by doing something he loved.
"It makes me feel really, really good," said the Saranac Elementary School second-grader. "I think it's really nice that we're helping Haiti."
Tenzin Dorjee, a fifth-grader at Peru Intermediate School, said when she learned of the benefit, she simply "wanted to do it."
"I feel good," Dorjee said of raising money for Haiti, "because they need help. I felt really sad for them because Haiti's a really poor country."
Marcie Everleth, who also coaches the team, said the event - which raised an estimated $2,000 - was a great opportunity for the team to get recognition and to help those in need.
"It's great to know these kids have what it takes to be good citizens," said Everleth. "They make Beartown proud."