November 21, 2019
The holiday season means spending time with family and friends, giving back, and creating memories. These traditions have also become synonymous with 24h Tremblant, which is probably why it has become such a memorable event every December.
Heading into its 19th year this Dec. 6-8, the event is bigger than ever and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The 24-hour skiing, running, and walking event to raise money for children’s charities has come a long way since the first installment in 2001 and is one that Canada Life is proud to support.
In 2000, 24h Tremblant’s executive producer Simon St-Arnault, was contacted by a famous Canadian athlete to start building the foundation for 24h Tremblant.
St-Arnault: There was a similar event going on in Switzerland led by ex-Formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve and Craig Pollock, his partner. They used to run a 24-hour Grand Prix skiathon there and Jacques Villeneuve wanted to expand and maybe find a place in Quebec to do a similar event. They ended up in discussions with Tremblant and they asked me to go to Switzerland to check out the event and try to replicate it with a local flavour.
The event’s primary purpose is to raise money for the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, Fondation Tremblant, and the Ottawa Senators Foundation. Rébecca Dumont, the chief executive of the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, has been involved with 24h Tremblant for 17 years now.
Dumont: To be honest, 17 years ago, the event was in its humble beginnings and so I spent most of my time there working in a frenzy. On top of my responsibilities towards my Foundation, I remember being in a little room counting dollars, quarters and dimes. In those days, ski teams were showing up with the funds they had raised in cash envelopes, hundreds of them. We were far from the online donations. Let’s just say that things have evolved.
St-Arnault: The challenge was that we didn’t know what we were doing, in the sense that, we had a Swiss model as an example, but every time you start or create an event it’s not like the formula really exists. It was a little bit of trial and error.
Lighting the actual mountain we struggled with because this was temporary lighting. There’s no night skiing at Tremblant per se, so we had to fabricate and make the lighting for the hill, bringing modular and generator power. One year we tried to do it with electricity and running long wires like cinema lighting or movie lighting. Sometimes the fuel would freeze.
As humble as those beginnings were, it didn’t take long for 24h Tremblant to grow and takeoff, which didn’t come as a surprise to those closest to the event who were working hard to make it a success.
St-Arnault: The first year we ended up with 300 participants and raised $300,000, which we though was an amazing result for our first year. Here we are 19 years later with an event that will probably unite in the neighborhood of 4,000 participants and exceed $4 million in fundraising. We’ve been exponentially growing and we’ve been very successful.
Dumont: I could sense that the event had incredible potential for growth. The energy, the passion and the willingness of the organizers to see it grow was palpable and I must say 17 years later, they have delivered, and I know they will continue to do so for many years to come.
St-Arnault: We kind of ran away from the ski racing from the very early days. Jacques Villeneuve had this speed fever and we had a speed category at the beginning, but we wanted to make it more accessible and more open to the public and corporations. That’s when we really broaden our horizons and we started to generate mass participation.
We thought the million-dollar mark was the achievement of a lifetime. A million dollars with a ski event was something that had never been seen. That was year 4 or something like that. So we thought ‘this is it. This is a million dollar fundraising event. What do we do next?’ Then more people started to register, more money, more companies, more sponsors, more everything.
Making a difference
Things quickly snowballed and 24h Tremblant has grown into the biggest skiing fundraiser in North America. Monique Maynard, the president of Quebec Affairs for Canada Life, stresses the importance of supporting events like 24h Tremblant that are focused on helping kids.
Maynard: We are happy to support 24h Tremblant. The children’s present and future is our main priority. This is why we have been involved as presenting sponsor of the 24h Tremblant with Freedom 55 Financial, and now under our new brand Canada Life. We are proud to be a strong partner for a cause that really takes care of the overall well-being of kids in Québec and across Canada. It is, after all, anchored in our DNA.
Dumont: Over the years, the event has raised over $11 million which makes the 24h of Tremblant the biggest donor in the Foundation’s history. This partnership allows the Foundation to continue its mission to give all children with cancer the best chances of recovery by financing research and supporting the development of projects in the area of pediatric hematology and oncology.
St-Arnault: Going out there and meeting the program directors and the kids that benefit from our contributions is something that is now probably the most important thing for everyone.
Dumont: On a more personal note, seeing the children’s eyes light up with hope by what is being done by so many people to help them in their struggle and also sharing with them a fun filled weekend where they can forget for a while the daily challenges of battling cancer.
It’s hard to imagine how this event could get any bigger, but there are visions to potentially take 24h Tremblant to new heights.
St-Arnault: Some of our discussions are about how can we multiply and make this even bigger into $5 million, $10 million? Is there potential? Can we grow this event to another level? Or are we happy with $4 million? Either or, honestly, the 24-hour event is just about doing good and making sure people enjoy. Looking into the future I think there is some strong potential for growth, but we have to make sure we listen to participants in how it evolves.
Don’t miss out on this year’s 24h Tremblant and make sure you’re a part of the future of this historic event.
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