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Ski team leaves Pittsburgh

By Staff | Jul 14, 2010

The ski team consists of Brandon Miller, age 15, Mark Anthony Miller, age 18, and Mark Miller, age 51. 

On Sunday, July 18, at approximately 8 a.m., the Miller Family of New Richmond, Ohio (20 miles east of Cincinnati) will depart “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pa. in their 18-foot Chris Craft boat on a six day journey to slalom ski the 981 mile length of the Ohio River, ending their journey in Cairo, Ill.

This event is being performed to raise funds and awareness for Disabled American Veterans. The Ohio River is formed in Pittsburgh at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers and ends when it feeds into the Mississippi River in Cairo, IL.

The Miller Family goals for the grueling and adventurous fundraiser include: Make a personal sacrifice for those who have sacrificed for our freedom; Raise money for the DAV organization which provides free services to disabled veterans; and Increase awareness of programs DAV offers to disabled veterans and their families as well as a call for citizens to volunteer their time through these programs.

The ski team consists of Brandon Miller, age 15, Mark Anthony Miller, age 18, and Mark Miller, age 51. They will be accompanied on their journey by Linda Miller, wife and mother. She will be the fourth crew member of the boat. All four will take turns piloting the craft along the journey. Bill Miller, brother of Mark Miller, will follow on land with the truck and trailer.

Key support for the fundraiser has come from Mark’s sister, Teresa White of New Hampshire, who has been instrumental in contacting media along Ohio River towns. Mark’s cousin Jeanne Perry, of Cincinnati, has been pivotal in helping set up Pittsburgh departure arrangements, Ohio River marina contacts, US Army Corps of Engineer contacts, and miscellaneous other sponsors.

The ski team trio has slalom skied about 550 miles this year training for the event, and plan to add another 100+ miles before departing for Pittsburgh on Saturday, July 17. Additionally, they have and continue to perform equipment readiness preparations, including installation of a VHF radio for communications, spare parts for the trip, and routine maintenance on both the boat and truck. A family friend, Tom Dean, has provided a GPS signaling device. This device will allow anyone to track their progress beginning on July 18th by logging into: tinyurl.com/2dnlp7y.

Late last week, Ingram Barge Company began displaying the team’s banners (containing the Marathon Ski for DAV slogan) on their 25 tows operating on the Ohio River. They will continue to fly the banners through completion of the marathon ski event. Ingram’s maritime and shore employees are comprised of approximately 40% veterans.

The team has received support from approximately 50 sponsors, ranging from cash donations to offers of gas fill-ups, lodging, meals, AMSOIL synthetic lubricants, silent auction items, and a steak dinner celebration upon arrival in Cairo being organized by Vietnam Veteran Buddy Walls. The support from individuals, businesses and organizations in cities, towns, and villages along the river has been tremendous. The collective generosity of these sponsors has put a significant dent in the nearly $7000 cost to plan, organize, promote, and execute this fundraising event. Having several small and individual sponsors has required more planning and organization, however, it plays well into the goals of the fundraiser. Sponsors help spread the word of the event, increasing both donations and awareness.

By getting the message out through grass roots marketing, media, e-communications, sponsorship requests, and family and friends, the Miller Family hopes the funds generated far exceed the cost of putting on the event. They also encourage disabled veterans, veterans, veteran supporters, boaters, water ski enthusiasts, and all Americans to line the Ohio River in their home towns as they pass through. While they will have to limit their stops in order to accomplish their mission of completing the fundraising journey in 6 days, they do have some pre-planned stops and will incorporate some random ones also. Planned stops will be listed on their website and facebook page prior to departure.

The Miller Family suggests pleasure boaters, particularly large cruisers, minimize their wake when they see their boat towing a slalom skier and flying a DAV flag approach. Wind chop, large waves, and weather will be the biggest challenges on this six day journey.

The idea for the fundraiser came about in the summer of 2009 when Mark was severed from his position with a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, coupled with his eldest son’s desire to break his father’s record of 95 miles non-stop slalom skiing in 1991 between the Captain Anthony Meldahl L&D and the Markland L&D. Following exhilarating ski runs by all three, Mark suggested the trio top that by skiing the 981 mile length of the Ohio River. Mark Anthony and Brandon simultaneously responded with “YEA”!

While spending most of his time seeking employment, Mark (and his family) felt this would be an ideal time to “give back” via a family fundraiser. Mark and Brandon made a presentation to Laura Rusche, Corporate Relationship Developer for DAV, about performing this feat as a fundraiser. DAV accepted their proposal and “Marathon Ski for DAV” was born. The Miller Family chose DAV as they are long time supporters of this organization.

This will be a multi dimensional experience states the family. The event will encompass physical strength, mental determination, heart and soul. They also state they intend to keep the FUN in fundraiser.

Linda Miller is an executive administrator for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. Mark was formerly a staff supervisor in capital, strategy, and training for a Fortune 100 global manufacturing company.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and USCG have been informed of the event and both have been proactive to help ensure a safe journey for the Miller Family.

For more information and to donate, go to www.DAV.org/MarathonSki/default.aspx. If you would like to be a sponsor, contact Mark at MarathonSkiForDAV@yahoo.com or call 513-605-0828. You can also find them by searching Marathon Ski for DAV on various internet search engines.