Tickets for the “24 Hours of Schweitzer” auction and awards dinner are still available, with more than 125 auction items and prizes on tap for one of the leading cystinosis fundraisers in the country.

The dinner and auction, which start at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 in Schweitzer’s Caribou Room, are held in honor of five-year-old Hank Sturgis of Sandpoint, who has the rare, fatal disease cystinosis that affects only 500 people nationwide. The auction dinner is open to the public and takes place following the all-day, all-night ski event that begins on Friday, March 30.

This year’s theme is “Hank’s Heroes: Mission Possible,” which recognizes Hank’s love of super heroes and participants’ efforts to help find a cure for the devastating disease. “Since the event first started four years ago, significant progress has been made in the relentless quest for a cure. We are getting closer each day, thanks to the remarkable dedication and contributions of our many friends and supporters from Sandpoint, Spokane and around the region,” said Brian Sturgis, Hank’s dad and one of the event organizers.

More than 100 live and silent auction items and 25 raffle items are expected, including lunch with
Ben Stein, a week-long stay at an Oregon Coast beach house, a Denver Broncos jersey signed by
Tim Tebow, a pro cycling jersey signed by professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer, a Shotz Ski made from a Nordic Jumping Ski from the 2002 Olympics, a one night get-away at Northern Quest Casino with dinner for two, a Burton snowboard, a Schweitzer Mountain Resort Ski Pass with Parking Pass, Fischer skis and bindings, a three night get-away at Pend Oreille Shores, and more. The awards dinner will feature New York-themed food and special kids’ cuisine. Tickets are $45 and available at www.24hoursforhank.org. The after-party, featuring live music by Robot Love, will be held from 8:30 p.m. to midnight in Schweitzer’s Taps Lounge. During the party, the Sports Creel will be raffling off a pair of Armada JJ skis.

The event benefits 24 Hours for Hank, a Sandpoint foundation established to raise money for cystinosis research and treatment. Funds raised locally are contributed to the national Cystinosis Research Foundation to help find a cure for this extremely rare, genetic disease that slowly destroys every organ in the body including the kidneys, liver, eyes, muscles, thyroid and brain.

Space is also still available at the fourth-annual “24 Hours of Schweitzer” round-the-clock ski relay. Skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities raise pledges and see how many runs they can ski or ride in 24 hours as solo racers, or three- or four-member teams. The entry fee is $150 and includes a lift ticket, event t-shirt and participation award, meals, equipment support, sleeping bag accommodations in Lakeview Lodge, hotel discounts at Selkirk Lodge, and one ticket to the auction/awards party. Participants are encouraged to dress in super-hero costume at the event finish, and fireworks will be set off throughout the night. Awards will recognize best costume, youngest and oldest participants, and most runs skied by an individual and team. The top fundraiser will receive a day of Cat skiing courtesy of Selkirk Powder.

Volunteers are needed for the March 30-31 ski event, which is one of only three events like it in the country and one of the last times to enjoy Schweitzer Mountain Resort for the season. To volunteer, contact information@24hoursforhank.org.

For more information on the ski event and auction, to register, purchase tickets, or make a donation, call 208.610.2131 or visit www.24hoursofschweitzer.com.

Major sponsors include Schweitzer, Subaru, TraskBritt, Litehouse, Ezy Dog, Interstate Concrete and Asphalt, Peak Sand and Gravel, Bonner General Hospital, Odom Distribution, Sandpoint Sports, Pucci’s Pub, Powder Hound Pizza, Pita Pit, Simulstat, Sports Creel and GU Energy.

About 24 Hours for Hank
24 Hours for Hank is a nonprofit foundation established by friends and family of Hank Sturgis to raise money for cystinosis research. Since September 2008, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based organization has raised more than $300,000 for the national Cystinosis Research Foundation supporting medical research to improve treatment and ultimately find a cure for the terminal disease. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.24hoursforhank.org. All gifts are tax deductible as allowed under the tax code of the IRS.

About Hank Sturgis
Hank was born in July 2006, a healthy 8½ pounds. At nine months old, he was losing weight, had trouble sitting up, and wouldn’t crawl. By 16 months, he had fallen off the growth chart. After many tests, Hank was diagnosed with cystinosis, Fanconi Syndrome and rickets. Today he has a rigorous medication schedule as well as weekly physical therapy sessions. A G-tube inserted into the wall of his stomach helps deliver medications and extra calories. Despite his challenges, Hank is happy, lovable and full of spirit. He does not yet know what his future may hold – painful eye drops to prevent blindness, kidney transplant, heart problems, stunted growth, and other organ and muscle failures. His family hopes a cure will be found that will prolong his life.

About Cystinosis
Cystinosis is a rare genetic disease that affects just 500 children and young adults in the U.S. and only 2,000 people worldwide. The fatal disease causes the amino acid “cystine” to accumulate in the cells of the body, which over time damages various organs including the kidneys, liver, muscles, white blood cells, eyes and central nervous system. Other complications include muscle weakness, growth loss, difficulty swallowing and developmental delays. Although medication is available to control some of the symptoms, there is no cure.