Snow Mountain Ranch chaplain honors late daughter through new scholarship fund, run in sled dog race
Bethany Adams was the kind of person everyone wanted to be around. She brought out the best in all those around her and was a light in the lives of everyone she knew.
Her ultimate goal was to impact as many lives as she could. So, when Adams, 39, died last year after battling cancer, her father, Steve Peterson, knew he wanted to continue her legacy and honor her memory.
Peterson, chaplain at YMCA of the Rockies-Snow Mountain Ranch and head of its sled dog program, created a fundraiser in her name and will be running in the Gunflint Mail Run, a 65-mile sled dog race in Minnesota, to raise money for the fund.
“Beth was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known,” Peterson said through tears. “She was beautiful inside and out. (…) It’s been a very difficult year.”
He hopes to raise around $25,000 for the Bethany Adams Memorial Fund, which aims to send an underprivileged kid to Camp Chief Ouray, at Snow Mountain Ranch, every year in perpetuity.
Peterson said he came up with the idea because it reflected Adams’s goal to impact people, as well as her love of being a mother to her three children, Connor, Noah and Olivia.
“For one thing, Camp Chief Ouray is a phenomenal kids camp, they do such a great job impacting young kids,” he said. “(Beth) wanted to impact lives and she did impact a lot of lives, so how could we create a memorial in her honor that her life would continue to impact people years and years after I’m gone even.”
Kristen Spronz, director of marketing for Snow Mountain Ranch, said the fundraiser would go a long way in making a difference for the families and children, who would get to attend Camp Chief Ouray when they otherwise could not.
“Camp is transformational,” Spronz said. “They always say there’s camp magic there and camp is where you can be your true self and so, it’s so important for kids to have that experience.”
Spronz said it was an easy decision to support the fundraiser because of how it aligned with Snow Mountain Ranch’s goal to give out more scholarships so that more children can attend camp, as well as Peterson’s dedication to his work.
“We were at lunch one day and someone mentioned that if we hit a $25,000 goal then it would be endowed in perpetuity and he just lit up, that was the big impact that he wanted,” she said. “We all love Steve and we all love camp, and it was something he was so passionate about, so why say no.”
In preparation for the race, which takes place Jan. 5 and 6, Peterson, who has been dog sled racing since 1998, has been training since August on the Snow Mountain Ranch trail system.
For the Gunflint Mail Run, he will be running 65 miles with an eight-dog team. It’s not the longest race he has ever run, but it still requires a lot of work and often, Peterson said, he trained 15 hours a day.
“It’s a lot of work to run a race like this and so maybe I can put in the work, but I don’t have that kind of cash to just create an endowment out of my own pocket, so that’s where the idea came from,” he said.
He hopes to average around 11 miles each hour during the race, meaning he hopes to run the whole distance in around eight-and-a-half to nine hours, which includes the mandatory three-hour rest break.
Racing to raise the funds reflects another of Adams’s love as Peterson said she was always his biggest fan and would frequently cheer him on at his races.
“She would say things like you’re my hero and cheer me on and stuff like that, so she was a big fan,” he said. “We’re going to be feeling her presence for sure. (…) Her beautiful smile, that’s the memory I’m going to carry.”