By Mary Heyl

If you are age 70 or older and looking for a great way to give back to your community, the Ken Brown 700 Club is for you! The club was founded in 2000 by local skier, Ken Brown, who turned 70 that year, along with nine friends of the same age who all wanted to have a great time and contribute to local charitable organizations. If you are or will turn 70 this year, now is the time to join this great organization!

In 2000, Brown and nine other 70-year-old skiers (hence the name “700 Club”) each donated $50 to sponsor a party to raise funds for local causes; since then, more than $40,000 has been raised by the group.

Brown was known by many for his great sense of humor and zest for life. In addition to being a regular on the ski slopes, he is remembered for marching in the annual Mardi Gras parade with colorful ski boots, a bright cape and lots and lots of Mardi Gras beads!

Mary Fox, whose husband Les serves on the club’s board of directors, is pleased to announce that the club will be having a float in this year’s parade in Brown’s honor.

After Brown passed away in 2002, the club has continued his legacy of good-humored fun and generosity in their annual event, the 700 Club Fundraising Party at Holiday Valley. In 2013, the club was renamed the Ken Brown 700 Club in his memory; this year, the club has almost 50 members.

Membership requirements are simple, according to Fox: participants must be 70 or older and make a $50 donation to the club, and you don’t have to be a skier to join in. Even those who don’t meet the age requirement can contribute to the 700 Club: a donation of $25 or more is all that’s needed to become an associate member. Most recently, the club hosted its 17th annual fundraising party on March 4 at Holiday Valley’s Yodeler Shelter. For just $10, participants enjoyed lunch, a beverage, and a beautiful day on the slopes! Fox said,

“We had a nice crowd and everyone had a good time! We had a basket raffle, as well as the live auction and a 50-50 to raise money.” Auction prizes, which included ski passes, gift certificates, gift baskets, ski clothing, wine, and more, were generously donated by area businesses, local artisans and community members. “We’re so grateful to our sponsors, especially HoliMont for donating prizes and Holiday Valley for letting us host the event there. They go above and beyond what they normally do for us,” Fox said.

According to Fox, 10 or 11 area organizations will benefit from the money raised at the fundraiser. The club has not yet released the names of the recipients, but Fox says there are a variety of organizations who will benefit. Past groups that have received funds include Almost Home Animal Sanctuary, the Alley Cats, Ellicottville Family Charities, the Ellicottville Memorial Library, the local food pantry, Project Christmas and adaptive ski programs at both HoliMont and Holiday Valley. Even individuals with hefty medical expenses have benefitted from the club’s generosity.

Indeed, countless lives have been touched by Ken Brown’s dedication to his community. The club’s simple yet powerful motto “Help Us Help Others” continues to live on through the new members who join every year. You, too, can be part of Brown’s legacy by becoming a member or associate member today. Call Hazzard at (716)699-4091 to get involved!