Snowfest helps make a wish come true

ATLANTIC MINE – More than 100 snowmobilers were united last weekend in their love of good snow and a good cause.

John Dee’s eighth annual Snowfest took place Friday and Saturday, culminating in a dinner Saturday night in Atlantic Mine.

Dee said the event had raised about $8,000 prior to Saturday night. He anticipated getting $3,000 to $4,000 more after the dinner and silent auction.

With the eight years combined, “I think we’re closing in on $100,000,” he said.

About four years ago the Snowfest found its stride and hasn’t lost it since, he said. A dedicated group of volunteers helps organize the event and each year, Dee goes out to local businesses and community members and gets donations that include financial contribution, free lodging and free food.

“My name’s on it, but I’m just a small part of it,” Dee said. “It’s all the other elements that make it what it is.”

The money benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. Each year, a child from the area benefits from the money raised.

This year’s recipient is Tom Olson of Mohawk, a 14-year-old who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth.

“It’s pretty neat,” said Olson, who found out about it two months ago.

Tom’s father Al Olson called it “humbling.”

Tom Olson’s wish is to get a Polaris Razor side-by-side.

“My cousin had a dune buggy and I was jealous of him,” he said.

And where does he plan to ride?

“All over,” he said.

Attending the event from Petoskey with his snowmobile for the first time was Chris Doezema.

“It’s a great area and with the way the weather has been, it’s nice to know every place here there’s always snow,” he said.

It was also the first time for Joe Popka, who owns property in Calumet but lives in Naples, Fla.

“It’s great,” he said. “I’m glad to see it go to a good cause.”