RUMFORD, Maine — Three River Valley youths took matters into their own hands late last month after learning that their favorite ski hill was being closed due to a funding crisis.
Alarmed, Curtis Gauvin, 14, of Rumford, and sisters Avery Sevigny, 11, and Rylee Sevigny, 10, both of Mexico, quickly organized a 5K run/walk to raise money to save Black Mountain of Maine.
Gauvin said his mother, Marie Gauvin, organized and ran a 5-kilometer fun run fundraiser for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program through her employer, Rite-Aid Pharmacy, a few months ago.
“It was a huge success,” Cheryl Sevigny, the Sevigny girls’ mother, said Thursday afternoon at the Hosmer Field track with the youngsters. “So that’s where the seed kind of started.”
The event, which the youths dubbed the “Hit the Track for Black” 5K will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Hosmer Field track in Rumford. The race begins and ends there, but also travels through Rumford neighborhoods, Gauvin said.
Members of the Chisholm Ski Club have volunteered to cover the timing needs and the Mexico Police Explorers will handle traffic for the race route.
Registration is at 7 a.m. on race day. But Avery Sevigny said racers can register by Aug. 1, pay the $20 entry fee and get a T-shirt. After that, the cost is $25 but no T-shirt. Registration forms are available in Rumford at Rite-Aid Pharmacy, where Gauvin’s mother, Marie Gauvin, works, Davis Florist and Adley’s Auto. They will also be available online via Black Mountain’s website and Active.com.
Cheryl Sevigny said they’re anticipating between 150 to 200 participants. Although Rylee Sevigny surmised aloud that 300 might show up if they offered the winner a triple decker grilled cheese sandwich made by Steve at the Black Mountain Cafe. It’s her favorite sandwich.
The children said they haven’t even advertised the event yet, but already 50 people of all ages from across the state and beyond have registered. They’ve also attracted a celebrity — former Olympian Julie Parisien, who ran a race camp at Black Mountain.
“She was our coach,” Avery Sevigny said. “She used to do race camp at Black Mountain. It was fun.”
“Yeah, it was fun,” Rylee Sevigny said.
The children have visited area businesses and raised more than $500 so far and lined up several sponsors whose business names will be on the back of the T-shirts.
All three children said they have skied downhill at Black Mountain since they were very young. Curtis said he started at 4 years old.
“They were all going from top to bottom by the end of their first year,” Cheryl Sevigny said.
That’s why Black Mountain is so important to them. If it were to close, Avery Sevigny said it would end their winter recreation.
“If it closes, it means we can’t ski anymore,” she said. “We don’t ski anywhere else.”
Cheryl Sevigny said that after learning that Black Mountain’s Alpine area was being closed by owner Maine Winter Sports Center, they checked prices at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.
She said that as a family, they’d only be able to ski there once a winter, due to the higher prices.
“With a family of five, it’s just not doable,” Cheryl Sevigny said. “It was about $84 an adult. We wouldn’t be able to afford that, not for one day of skiing.”
But Black Mountain only charged $15 each this past winter.
“Black Mountain’s perfect,” Cheryl Sevigny said. “With the safety factor and it’s got plenty of terrain that’s challenging.”
“They also have a terrain park where you can do jumps,” Rylee Sevigny said.
“It really is a perfect, small, family mountain,” Cheryl Sevigny said. “But I tell you, if they had a place for people to spend the night, they would.
“There were a lot of families last year who came here from away, because $15 a lift ticket is great,” she said. “It’s too bad there isn’t more lodging in the area, because I really think they’d be staying.”
“We’ll do that after we save Black Mountain,” Rylee Sevigny said. “Black Mountain is first.”
“You want to save Black Mountain this year, and then put up condos next year?” Cheryl Sevigny asked.
“Yeah,” Rylee said.