What is "Birkie® Skiers for Cures"?

Join the Birkie Skiers for Cures program as we partner to raise awareness and funds for organizations that support health issues affecting many in the skiing community. For the past four years, 2009 through 2012, Birkie Skiers for Cures partnered with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and raised more than $300,000.  From 2012 – 2015 our three year partnership with JDRF, the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes research, raised $173,000.

Our current three-year commitment (2015-2018) is to ALSA, the Wisconsin Chapter of the ALS Association.


The American Birkebeiner® Ski Foundation (ABSF) is proud to partner with ALS Association – Wisconsin Chapter, on a 3-year Skiers For Cures program.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, first identified in 1869 by the noted French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding about the physiology of this disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Lou Gehrig, first brought national and international attention to the disease back in 1939 when he abruptly retired from baseball after being diagnosed with ALS.

“We are very excited to join the fight against ALS through our ‘Skiers for Cures’ program”, says Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner® Ski Foundation.  “I hope our partnership will bring resources and visibility to their ongoing efforts to support those with ALS and find a cure for this terrible disease.”

‘Skiers for Cures’ is a charitable partnership which works to raise awareness and funding, to help find a cure for health issues affecting many in the skiing community.  In the case of ALS, over 400 Wisconsin patients are battling the disease.  With a new diagnosis made every 90 minutes, that is more than 5600 individuals every year afflicted by this terminal disease.

“While we’ve achieved a much greater understanding of the disease, the sad reality is that the cure still remains elusive. But every day and every research dollar raised brings us a step closer to unlocking a cure.” says Melanie Roach-Bekos, Executive Director of ALS Association – Wisconsin Chapter.  “We’re still working on unlocking the ALS mystery. It’s heartening to know that more significant advances have been made in the past decade – especially with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – than the nearly century and a half since Charcot identified the disease. This gives us hope and encourages us to step up our efforts to find a cure. The time is now.”

John Jaeckel“I’m stoked about the Birkie adding ALSA of WI as their new charitable partner!” says John Jaeckel, Hayward resident and 17-time Birkie skier, diagnosed with ALS in 2009.   “I know too well the weight of being diagnosed with a disease that is untreatable and incurable. I believe that ALS is NOT incurable but just underfunded! This new partnership will help fund research that will discover new treatments and eventually a cure!” John & his wife, Deanna, worked tirelessly with ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp in order to bring ALS to the forefront of the Skiers for Cures partnerships.  “It makes me very proud to have been part of this process.” says Jaeckel.

Through the ‘Skiers for Cures’ program ABSF & ALSA of WI hope to raise further awareness and much needed funding.  Since its inception, the ‘Skiers for Cures’ program has helped raise over one million dollars towards research and helped raise awareness for the following non-profit programs: Susan G. Koman Foundation (Breast Cancer Research), the Multiple-Sclerosis Society and most recently JDRF (Junior Diabetes Research Foundation).

Learn more about ALS Association – Wisconsin Chapter at www.alsawi.org. Look for future communications in our bi-monthly @Birch Scroll ezine, and on Facebook about the Birkie® Skiers for Cures partnership with ALS and how you can get involved.

How to Participate

Skiers, Friends, Familes, Spectators:

You’re invited to ski the 2018 Prince, Korte or Birkie events as a member of Team ALS. Please call the ALS Association of WI directly for information and registration at: (414)831-3993.

We’re proudly entering our third year of a 3-year partnership with the ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a brutal disease with no known cause, no effective treatment and no cure. It’s fatal in 100% of all cases. And it doesn’t just ravage its victims, it devastates families. Both emotionally and financially.

The ALS Wisconsin Chapter’s mission is to create a world without ALS by raising money for research. They’re also dedicated to providing support and assistance to patients and their families throughout Wisconsin.

The Birkebeiner and ALS have a mutual connection through longtime Hayward resident John Jaeckel, who completed the Birkie 17 times before being diagnosed with ALS. He was instrumental in helping create the partnership between Skiers for Cures and the ALS Wisconsin Chapter.

While John can no longer ski the event he loves, he’s determined to raise awareness for ALS and to fight the disease with the same relentless spirit in which he tackled the Birkie course.

To find out more about the ALS Association Wisconsin Chapter and how you can get involved, visit http://www.alsawi.organd vsals.org