Despite a wide range of weather that included temperatures near zero, wind chills and four hours of snow, more than 500 skaters turned out for 9th annual UNMC Skate-a-thon for Parkinson’s.
The 24-hour skating event concluded Saturday afternoon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Ice Rink. This marked the fifth consecutive year the event has topped 500 skaters.
Jenny Knutson, one of the event coordinators, said preliminary estimates are that the event will once again top the $20,000 mark. She said online proceeds, pledges for skaters, and corporate sponsorships are yet to be processed.
With this year’s total, the skate-a-thon has now netted more than $210,000 in proceeds, which go toward clinical and basic science Parkinson's research at UNMC as well as Parkinson’s Nebraska, an organization started to provide affordable exercise, education and services to improve quality of life for persons with Parkinson's.
The snow arrived around 2:15 a.m. on Saturday and lasted for about four hours, Knutson said. The skaters who had committed to skating all 24 hours continued throughout the snow. They helped broom the snow off the ice along with members of an adult hockey team known as Menace to Sobriety.
“It was just crazy,” Knutson said. “The snow was beautiful at first, then it got rather annoying. It just kept coming. It was grueling for all the skaters.”
Five skaters, Chris Rush, Oscar Knutson, Ryan Cary, Tyler Cary and Jenny Knutson, skated all 24 hours. In skating all 24 hours, it is estimated that each of the marathon skaters logged nearly 70 miles.
It was a family affair for the Cary family. The three sons of Stephen and Jeanne Cary all skated in the event. Stephen, 70, has been battling Parkinson’s disease for 13 years. Back row (left-right) –Tyler Cary, Bryce Cary, Stephen Cary, Felicia Cary (Ryan Cary’s wife), Jeanne Cary and Ryan Cary. Front row (left-right) Rylee Cary, daughter of Ryan and Felicia, and Jocelyn Cary, Bryce Cary’s daughter.