Vail Today: Costumed crusaders raise money for arthritis research at the Blue Sky Cup (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Costumed crusaders raise money for arthritis research at the Blue Sky Cup (video)

Sometimes a big idea can come from just a simple thought in a chairlift. In 2012, Hayden Fisher decided to ski 40,000 vertical feet for his 40th birthday. After accomplishing his goal, Fisher and longtime friend and fellow Colorado resident, Jim Nollsch, decided to turn this fun day on the slopes into a fundraiser and created the Blue Sky Cup.

The Blue Sky Cup is held each winter on Vail Mountain to raise money and awareness for arthritis. At first, the goal was to simply try and ski 40,000 vertical feet. Now they expect over 100 participants and the winning team will likely exceed 50,000 vertical feet.

The cause hits close to home for Nollsch, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in his 30s. This affliction runs in his family, his father and grandmother also had rheumatoid arthritis. It's this personal connection that led them to supporting arthritis research.

"I'm thankful that the medicine I take allows me to continue to do what I love," says Nollsch, "But for many people this is not the case and the best way we can help is to support research to find new treatments and a cure."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 52.5 million or 1 out of 5 Americans report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The CDC also states that an estimated 300,000 of those diagnosed with various forms of arthritis are kids.

Proceeds from the Blue Sky Cup go directly to funding rheumatoid arthritis research through the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

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“We rely solely on private donations to fund our cutting-edge arthritis research projects around the country,” says Derek Belisle, marketing director for the Arthritis National Research Foundation, “Events like the Blue Sky Cup and people like Jim and Hayden are critical in providing the funding needed to support these important research projects towards finding a cure.”

To join them for this event on Friday, Feb. 9 or to find out more about the Blue Sky Cup, please visit http://www.blueskycup.ski.