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Curveball doesn’t lessen success of 25th annual Never Surrender, Inc. event

February 12, 2024

Former Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire was incredibly proud of how organizers of the 25th annual Never Surrender, Inc. Blackwood’s Blizzard Tour adapted to a curveball thrown to them by Mother Nature.

 

In a typical year, participants in the event arrive at Fortune Bay via snowmobile, but the early winter of 2024 was anything but typical.

 

Instead of well-groomed snowmobile trails, the trails had minimal snow accumulations, so no one would be riding into Fortune Bay on their sled. Instead, organizers had to go to Plan B and bus the participants into Fortune Bay for their typical Thursday evening festivities.

 

“We had all these grand plans to ride in like we normally do, but that just didn’t happen,” said Gardenhire, who was enjoying beverages in the Sunset Steakhouse with former Twins greats Kent Hrbek and Terry Steinbach before the program began in The Woodlands Ballroom. “It’s disappointing, but we’ll make the best of it.”

 

And that’s precisely what the Never Surrender, Inc. staff did as they adapted to that curveball and hit a home run by adjusting on the fly. Those adjustments included hosting a bevy of events at Skyline Social and Games in Hermantown. That included traditional bowling, duck pin bowling, axe throwing, Skee-ball, and a friendly basketball competition. They also curled at Curl Mesabi, had a trivia night, and planned a bean bag tournament to fill out the remaining schedule of the 2024 event.

 

“We’ve been doing this for 25 years, and we’re a lot bigger than just the snowmobiling,” said Never Surrender, Inc. President Dave Kolquist, whose brother, Kevin Kolquist, died of ALS. “We’re about helping people and raising money. It’s such a terrible disease. It has affected my family and many others—we’re gaining on it, but the only way we can ever stop it is to keep raising money.”

 

The 2024 event was experiencing a record number of participants as organizers were preparing to serve a dinner for 300 plus. Due to the weather and other factors, those numbers eventually dipped to 250. However, Gardenhire was impressed with the number of people staying the course.

 

“These people are the most resilient people I’ve ever known,” said Gardenhire, who made his way back from Fort Myers, Florida, to lend a helping hand. “They are on a mission to knock ALS out. I love being a part of this because the people are so passionate. These people genuinely love each other because they so strongly believe in the cause they are fighting for.”

 

First-time participant Dale Fjelstad from Duluth agreed.

 

 

“After 25 years of watching Dave be so committed to this event and growing this event, I wanted to get involved,” said Fjelstad, who was a friend of Kevin Kolquist and previously volunteered for the ALS Fishing event years ago. “I just want to support Dave and the cause that he is so passionate about.”

 

Although he didn’t get to experience any snowmobiling, Fjelstad said he enjoyed getting to interact with so many of the participants on the trip up north.

 

“I am hoping to come back next year because I’ve really enjoyed the comradery of this group,” said Fjelstad. “They are giving me the enthusiasm to help me figure out what I can do better to raise more money for the 2025 event.”

 

Dave Kolquist said he was very thankful folks like Fjelstad decided to stick with their plans and raise money for Never Surrender, Inc. When it was all said and done, the group surpassed its goal of raising 2 million dollars for the 2024 event.

 

“They are the core rock behind what we do,” said Kolquist, showing his appreciation to all participants. “Without them, we can’t do this.”

 

With that, Kolquist looked around the room to see participants enjoy one another’s company and sharing stories of past rides they shared with the common goal of ultimately helping raise money so researchers can knock out this dreaded disease.

 

“Can we cure ALS?” asked Kolquist. “Yes—we just haven’t funded it enough to find the cure, but we’re doing something about it.”

 

If you would like more information about this event, please visit www.blackwoodsblizzardtour.com

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