Team Blue Tarp doesn't race down the mountain. These Stevens Pass skiers aren't competing for the most vertical feet.
They also are making a difference by raising money for charity. At almost every turn, they make their enterprising efforts into a party.
Temple Voorhees, of Snohomish, started Team Blue Tarp a few years ago with Mike Tracy, who worked at the Everett Ski Shop in the 1980s and now co-owns ProSki Seattle.
The team's namesake is a blue tarp that was woven into a tree during the 1990 flood on U.S. 2. The 15 teammates ride carrying chunks of it.
"If you know where that tarp is, you're old-school Stevens Pass," said Voorhees, 49. "At heart, we're just a bunch of skiers, upper lot riff raff. It's turned into this network of people who want to make a difference."
The team decided on a mission after a 12-year-old skier beat them by miles during their first year at Stevens Pass' Hope on the Slopes. The 24-hour ski and snowboard event raises money to benefit the American Cancer Society.
From then on, Voorhees figured, if the team couldn't boast the most vertical feet, they'd better bring in the cash.
Voorhees, an electrical sign salesman, went to work on the team logo and started networking. He enlisted the help of a friend who makes ski movies. Together, they organized the team's first benefit, a screening at Cinebarre that raised $3,500 for Hope on the Slopes.
Last year, a member of Blue Tarp was diagnosed with leukemia. The team then brought in $12,000 to fight cancer.
"That opened our eyes to just what this thing's capable of," Voorhees said. "We've taken the idea and decided to run with it."
Voorhees saw another need through his 11-year-old son, Vale's, involvment with Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. He recently started a Blue Tarp clothing line and designed a T-shirt with the tagline "Playing It Safe" to sell for charity.
With the proceeds, Voorhees, a father of two, wants to buy an automatic external defibrillator for each of the 18 clubs in the county. The red T-shirts are being sold for $20 at the clubs through Monday.
Northwest AED has contributed $25,000 to the effort, leaving the team to come up with the remaining $20,000 cost.
"Last year was very personal, so this year it's a very lofty goal," Voorhees said.
Blue Tarp also is organizing a Hope on the Slopes benefit at Seattle's Nectar Lounge on Feb. 20. Flake Fest 2014 has lined up a screening of Teton Gravity's latest film, live music from the North Woods and DJ Kipprawk for the event.
Hope on the Slopes is scheduled for March 1-2 at Stevens Pass. The team has adopted the stretch of U.S. 2 that crosses the summit and expects to host highway clean up parties twice a year.
People can make donations to Team Blue Tarp at any US Bank branch.
"Every penny is a direct donation," Voorhees said. "I could not be more stoked on it."
Mesina McMurray, a three-year team veteran, said Voorhees' passion and dedication keeps the rest of the team going.
"Temple is inspiring to work with," McMurray, of Mountlake Terrace, said. "His stoke gets us stoked to make a difference."
McMurray, 31, skis at Stevens Pass with a group that includes half of Team Blue Tarp known as the Monday wrecking crew.
"At 8 a.m. we're in that upper lot," McMurray said. "We're hooting, hollering, laughing and having a heyday. It's just a fun- loving group of people that ski and by the way, know how to get it done."
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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