Scaling Mountains for Flathead Industries

By Beacon Staff

Sometimes it’s hard to quantify how much needs to be done to make a difference. But for Flathead Industries, the measurement is easy: five miles or eight miles. Take your pick – they both take you to the top of Big Mountain and give the nonprofit Flathead Industries a much-needed financial boost.

The 19th annual Climb Big Mountain, Flathead Industries’ largest fundraiser of the year, is scheduled on July 18 at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Claudette Vance, one of the organizers, expects “several hundred” participants, which is on par with past years. She said the turnout averages between 300 and 500.

Flathead Industries, based out of Kalispell, helps developmentally disabled individuals. The nonprofit provides group home living and supported living, as well as employment services and in-house work opportunities. Through its Career Connection department, Flathead Industries assesses job interests and abilities in an effort to help clients find employment. It also manages thrift stores throughout the valley.

Individual participants pay a registration fee of $30 or, if they can gather enough for a team of eight or more, the entry fee is $240. Individuals get a T-shirt with the Climb Big Mountain logo on it, while teams get shirts that also have their team names.

Participants can choose to hike five miles up Danny On Trail or bike eight miles up the Summit Trail. Water and snacks are provided along the way. A free lunch and live music awaits them at the Summit House. Team photos will be taken at the Summit House as well.

Vance reminds participants that the climb is not a race. People are welcome to go at their own pace.

“We have a lot of people who take their time and meander up,” Vance said.

There is also an option called “I’d rather be golfing than climbing.” The cost is $60 and the recipient gets a gift certificate – good until the end of the year – to Glacier View Golf Course, Village Greens, Whitefish Lake, Buffalo Hills or Meadow Lake.

Corporate sponsors fund the event and there are also sponsors for lunch, snacks and first aid. All proceeds go toward helping pay for services at Flathead Industries. Over the past couple of years, the money has gone to the nonprofit’s thrift stores. This year, Vance said the proceeds will help fund a new vehicle. The company often needs to transport clients.

Earlier this year, Flathead Industries held an inaugural contest at local high schools to design the logo for Climb Big Mountain. Vance said the company received numerous entries from Flathead and Glacier high schools. The winner was Ky Zimmerman, a 2009 graduate of Flathead High School.

Not only is Zimmerman’s logo used for this year’s event, he also won $100. Second-place winner Ace Zimmerman of Glacier High School won $50 and third-place finisher Martha Obermiller won $25. Vance said the logo contest will be an annual event.

Registration for Climb Big Mountain is from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on the day of the event in front of Ed and Mully’s Smokehouse. Early registration is also welcomed. If people can’t participate in the climb, they can make a donation by contacting Flathead Industries.

Flathead Industries is found online at www.flatheadindustries.org or reached by phone at 755-7656. Ask for Claudette Vance or Dick Ramos.