More than $48,000 was raised at WinterKids’ 10th annual License to Chill auction and dance party Nov. 19 at Portland House of Music and Events.

“This fundraising event, and the Downhill24 at Sugarloaf, have grown significantly over time, translating to exponential growth in our programs,” said Executive Director Julie Mulkern. “Ten years ago, we were reaching about 5,000 kids annually. Now, we reach nearly 30,000 annually in all 16 counties of Maine – and New Hampshire.”

About 120 fully vaccinated WinterKids supporters enjoyed live music by Vinyl Tap, an auction, drinks from Allagash Brewing and Maine Craft Distilling, and the pre-packaged cheese and crackers that emcee Blake Hayes dubbed “deconstructed charcuterie.”

Although the pandemic makes events challenging, Mulkern admitted, WinterKids’ focus on health and outdoor activity has never been more fitting.

“Being outside with sunshine on your face and in the fresh air uplifts your spirts,” said Dustan Larsen, whose three daughters love sledding and downhill skiing. “Maine winters are so long, it’s important for kids to get outdoors.”

The WinterKids app and Family Days offer free or discounted winter activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and skating.

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“We’re all about getting people outside,” said L.L.Bean Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman. “What better way to do that than with WinterKids?”

The WinterKids Winter Games (Jan. 17 through Feb. 11) will again engage 16 elementary schools across Maine in winter activities with their classmates and families.

“WinterKids is transforming the lives of children around the state, getting them outside, teaching them healthy habits and getting them to think differently,” said board member Dyana Tull of Hannaford.

WinterKids’ largest annual fundraiser, the Downhill24 on March 4 and 5 at Sugarloaf, has a mammoth goal: $1 million.

“Fundraisers like License to Chill and Downhill24 make up a large percentage of WinterKids’ annual revenue and are critical in delivering their message and creating opportunities for kids to enjoy the outdoors,” said board member Jeff Zachau.

For more information, go to winterkids.org.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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