Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Teresa Heinz Kerry, Gold Medalist Rally Galena Benefit
Paul and Beth Willis have known Jenny Busdon for 18 years. “We love Galena Lodge—it’s a place to skate ski, a place to laugh…There’s no better place than Galena Lodge,” said Beth Willis.
Monday, January 28, 2019


Jenny Busdon had to twist people’s arms to buy tickets for the first Galena Lodge Benefit in 1996.

“No one knew what a benefit was in those days,” she said. “But Bob Rosso, Mary Austin Crofts and I went ahead with it. There was no email then. So, every time I collected a silent auction item, I’d fax information about it to Mary. We got 200 people and raised $30,000 and we were ecstatic.”

The 2019 Galena Benefit on Saturday, by contrast, was sold out with 450 people crowding into the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn and a waiting list beyond. The number of silent auction items, which included an inflatable standup paddle board, juicer and two nights at the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch,  exceeded a hundred—a new record.

Teresa Heinz Kerry said she was delighted to celebrate all that the Blaine County Recreation District had done with Galena Lodge and the trails over the years.

And supporters gave more than $270,000 to maintain the 140-year-old lodge and groom the cross country ski trails.

It didn’t hurt that Teresa Heinz Kerry, the woman who ensured the lodge would be around for many years to come, was among the celebrants. Or that a Sun Valley youth who trains on those trails had just won a gold medal at the Junior World Championships in Finland.

Heinz received a handful of standing ovations from the appreciative crowd as she recounted how she was unsure what she had gotten into as her late husband Sen. John Heinz brought her to Sun Valley, a new baby in tow.

There were no diaper services here then or much else to support a new mother, she noted, and the first babysitter she got for her newborn son was 90 years old. But she came to love the sense of community in a town where life is not as hurried as that back East and where there is time to make and keep friendships.

Sammy Mailman sits with her son Joey Mailman, who will serve as a Boulder Mountain Tour doctor next Saturday.

She added that it did not seem possible that a quarter century had passed since one of her sons came home from Backwoods Mountain Sports with a pamphlet about the campaign to save Galena Lodge. The lodge, built in 1879, had sat empty for three years and was to be razed if no one stepped up.

“I could not imagine the community losing such a unique and special place located in the midst of the Sawtooth Mountains,” recounted Heinz, who was accompanied by her son Chris and his wife Sasha. “I and my family felt compelled to do what we could to help, knowing how much Galena Lodge meant to  John and to me, to our sons.”

She made a $325,000 donation in honor of John, who had loved the mountains and the alpine skiing and fly fishing he found here. Her only stipulation: That the community raise an additional $200,000 as an endowment to safeguard the lodge and its trails for generations to come.

“Belief in the possible is a powerful force in our lives. Perhaps it was a spark that helped encourage hope within the community. Twenty-five years later we have a lodge that is loved and cherished. And it’s very special to be here today,” she said, noting that her sons’ families now enjoy the lodge and the trails.

Stuart Nibley, with his wife Christine, said he first came to Sun Valley with his parents in 1960 on a train from Portland. Now, he uses Galena at least three times a week.

Today the lodge and the trails are managed by the Blaine County Recreation District on behalf of the community, with the benefit helping to cover the costs that the sale of some 3,000 season ski passes do not.

And the Heinz family did their part Saturday night, with gifts of $50,000 from the Andre and Maria Heinz Fund of the Heinz Family Foundation and $50,000 from the Teresa and John Heinz Fund of the Heinz Family Foundation.

Bob Rosso, a longtime member of the Galena Advisory Committee, recalled times when a groomer would break and they’d have to scrounge for money to fix it and resume grooming.

“People love the lodge, and they’re willing to step up and step in to support it, and that’s neat,” he added.

The silent auction featured ski jackets, doggie baskets and art galore.

“We call ourselves Nordic Town USA and this is why,” said Rick Kapala, Nordic coach for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, as he gazed over the crowd.

 Kapala told the crowd that four SVSEF kids (Johnny Hagenbuch, Peter Holmes, Sophia Mazzoni and Sydney Palmer-Leger) have spent the week competing at the World Junior Championships in Lahti, Finland. And he had just learned that Johnny Hagenbuch had won gold as part of the men’s U.S. relay team.

“Somebody asked me: How did this happen? It happened because of this,” he said. “We get outside, enjoy sports, try hard and keep trying hard. We could not have achieved these results without the help of this community and the BCRD. So, when you guys are supporting skiing, you’re supporting every level from Moms and kids skiing around in circles at Quigley Nordic to athletes achieving at the highest level.”

The lodge means a lot to those who are not running races, as well.

Sawtooth Wilderness Ranger Ed Cannady has long used the lodge as a go-to after a big day backcountry skiing Gladiator Peak, Spring Creek Owl Creek or Mushroom Ridge.

“It’s so special to be able to sit down and have a beer and pizza with friends,” he said. “The atmosphere is so welcoming—to me, perfect. I’ve enjoyed many occasions like that and I look forward to doing so many more times.”

Busdon, who worked for eight months to secure Teresa Heinz’s appearance, said she was elated to know how appreciative Teresa Heinz Kerry and the others are of the work she and others have done over the years.

“Now, Galena and the trails are a hub of activity. It warms my heart to know we did something right.”


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