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Second annual avalanche awareness fundraiser hopes to raise $5,000.

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With the death toll sitting at 27 lives lost to avalanches this year in B.C. Whistler’s second annual fundraiser for avalanche awareness and the people and dogs that protect us against them has taken on a special significance.

"With the number of incidents this year it’s front and centre," said John Barber owner of Whistler’s Best Promotions and organizer of the fundraiser.

"It has been a bad year."

For the community of Whistler, avalanches, avalanche awareness and backcountry safety are all part of a way of life.

It’s one of the reasons Barber decided to get the fundraiser going to support the Canadian Avalanche Association and the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association. Last year 170 people came to the event at the Longhorn, raising $4,400.

"We are a community of skiers and as locals we have lost friends in avalanches."

"Those who work in avalanche safety are very important people in our community and they deserve our help, and attention, and thanks."

This year Barber has added the Dave Sheets Memorial Fund for Critical Care Equipment and Whistler’s paramedics to those who will benefit from the fundraiser April 17 at the Longhorn, which starts at 6 p.m.

The paramedics are in dire need of some clothing and footwear appropriate to the resort’s weather. Government issued cotton shirts, grey flannels and low cut shoes just don’t cut it, said Barber.

A saloon supper will be served along with a couple of adult beverages for the $25 ticket price. And great entertainment is also on offer thanks to the donated talents of the Hairfarmers.

A raffle will give one lucky winner a $1,000 backcountry package. Tickets for the raffle are $5 and can be bought in advance form the Longhorn, so you don’t even have to attend to have a chance to win.

There are thousands of dollars in door prizes ranging from Atomic skis to a $700 Heli Hansen ski suit, to avalanche safety courses.

Barber hopes to sell at least 200 tickets and raise $5,000. For more information or to donate prizes you can contact Barber at 604-932-1822. Tickets are available at the Longhorn.

"The bartenders at the Longhorn last year even donated their tips," said barber.

"It’s a really great chance for the community to say thanks."

Meanwhile, Whistler’s CAN-SKI stores raised $2,604 for the Canadian Avalanche Society through donations from employees and customers since December.

"As a management team, (CAN-SKI managers) decided that it was important to request donations for the CAA," said Mike Hashimoto, CAN-SKI village supervisor. "We knew that the CAA faced government funding cuts, and we wanted to create an awareness for the need to support the association.

"Most of CAN-SKI’s employees and customers use the backcountry, and they have a genuine interest in avalanche safety."

The fundraiser will continue until the end of the season, and shoppers are encouraged to donate.

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