Red Ball Express Rolls on March 10
by Martinique Davis
Mar 05, 2013 | 1449 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RED BALL EXPRESS – Spectators watched from below as giant red balls took flight down the Telluride Ski Area at last year’s Red Ball Express event. The annual Rotary fundraiser taking place on March 10 raises funds for more than two dozen regional nonprofit organizations. (File photo)
RED BALL EXPRESS – Spectators watched from below as giant red balls took flight down the Telluride Ski Area at last year’s Red Ball Express event. The annual Rotary fundraiser taking place on March 10 raises funds for more than two dozen regional nonprofit organizations. (File photo)
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TELLURIDE – Every spring, a strange and exciting migration takes place in Telluride: one hundred giant red balls take flight down a snow-covered ski slope, jostling for gravity’s graces as they are released into the wild, spectators egging them on as they race towards the finish line.

The event isn’t some creative ski town take on a horse race, nor is it your typical community fundraiser. The Red Ball Express, celebrating its tenth year this March, is a thrilling spectator event offering the chance to win big money – while supporting a slew of local causes.

Preschools, school groups, sports programs, churches, and other nonprofits will benefit from this year’s annual Telluride Rotary Club-sponsored event, which over the years has raised more than $110,000 for local nonprofit groups, in addition to nearly the $75,000 it has raised for Rotary and its causes. This year’s event boasts perhaps the largest number of nonprofit partners ever, says Red Ball Chairman Mark Westman.

“Not only is this a big fundraiser for Rotary, but it is a fundraiser for every nonprofit that helps sell tickets,” Westman said. For every $5 ticket sold, $4 goes directly to the non-profit. The Rotary Club manages all aspects of the event, allowing the nonprofits to focus solely on selling.

In addition to the traditional $5 tickets for a single entry in the race, a new $20 ticket is now available, offering four entries in the event, and approximately $39 in coupons for local restaurant specials (participating restaurants include the New Sheridan Chop House, Floradora Saloon, La Marmotte, the Peaks, and SMAK Bar).

On Sunday, March 10, at 3:45 p.m., over 100 giant red balls will roll down the Telluride Ski Resort’s fenced NASTAR race course. The first balls to reach the bottom of the course will determine this year’s winners. In addition to the first place prize of $5,000, prizes will also be awarded for second and third place ($1000 and $500 prizes, respectively).

New this year is a chance to win huge, with an additional Grand Prize. If the Red Ball Express’ winning balls match the numbers in a second drawing, the first place winner will receive an extra $100,000.

This year, Rotary has managed to secure enough sponsors to cover nearly 100 percent of the costs, including the prize money, Westman notes. “Traditionally, we have relied on a few large sponsors to cover costs,” he said. “This year, we added a few dozen smaller sponsors for the event.” Returning as major sponsors are Wells Fargo Bank, Telluride Ski and Golf, Telluride Sotheby’s International Realty, Watch Newspapers, and the Telluride Daily Planet. The River Club is a new major sponsor this year.

The Telluride Rotary Club, founded in 1947, with over 60 active members, actively participates, in and raises money for, a number of local and international projects. Most notably, the Club awards college scholarships to Telluride High School graduates, dictionaries to over 300 area third graders, and supports an extremely active youth exchange program. In season, the Club meets each Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. for lunch at the New Sheridan. Visitors are always welcome.

Tickets for the Red Ball Express will be available for sale until the day of the event. Rotary representatives are selling tickets on the mountain and around town. For more information, including the list of participating nonprofits, check out the web site at www.TellurideRedBall.com or email Mark Westman at mark@telluride.com.  

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