This month’s Pain McSchlonkey Classic is a fun-filled weekend of wild costume parties, crazy ski competitions, and a lot of people walking around dressed like Saucer Boy. While most people know that the event, now in its fourth year, is to celebrate the life of Shane McConkey, one of the best and wackiest skiers to come out of Squaw Valley, what some may not know is that The Shane McConkey Foundation does much more than put on one of the year’s best parties.
The Shane McConkey Foundation, which was founded in 2011, is dedicated to carrying on McConkey’s legacy of humor, living life to the fullest, and protecting the planet. McConkey died in 2009 in a ski BASE jumping accident in Italy.
“Our focus is on children and the environment, which were close to Shane’s heart,” said Shane McConkey’s wife, Sherry, the foundation’s founder and director.
In the past four years, the foundation has donated $130,000 to the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s environmental programs and to local charities and organizations like Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, InnerRhythms, and the Truckee Pump Track. Now, the foundation is excited about its newest program, the Shane McConkey Eco Challenge. A partnership with Protect Our Winters’ Hot Planet/Cool Athletes climate assemblies, the Eco Challenge encourages middle and high school students around the country to develop creative ideas in their schools that help fight climate change. The winning team, which will be announced on Earth Day, receives $6,000 (second place gets $3,000 and third place $2,000). Nine schools entered the contest, including local schools Squaw Valley Prep and North Tahoe High School, as well as schools in Colorado and Oakland; Sherry hopes to triple that number next year. One of the challenge’s only rules is that teams not spend more than $500.
“I’m really excited that schools are not spending a bunch of money,” said Sherry. “I hope kids can see how easy and fun it is to help the environment, and that cool people are involved, like Shane and Jeremy [Jones, founder of POW].”
The Pain McShlonkey weekend, March 28 and 29, is the major fundraiser for the foundation, and Sherry hopes to raise at least $55,000. New this year is the snowblade ballet event (think ice skating on snow), with former ski ballet competitor Troy Caldwell as a judge. There is also the Chinese Downhill, which includes 30 pros and 30 amateurs who are selected from the foundation’s awkward photo Facebook contest. The theme of Friday night’s gala is the Rocky Horror Picture Show, while Saturday’s glam rock After Party will feature Queen cover band Queen Nation, as well as a DJ.
“I want to make it as goofy as Shane’s character was,” Sherry said. “It brings people out of their shells.”
The event attracts people from all over the country, and Sherry tells the story of a guy who drove out from Vermont to enter the Chinese Downhill, only to find out there wasn’t room. When one of the contestants ended up getting hurt before the race, he took his place and ended up winning.
“People are laughing the whole time — that’s how Shane was. It really shows. It makes me happy,” Sherry said. “He would be so stoked and so proud. It’s what he would want for a celebration of his life.”
For a full list of Pain McShlonkey events and to purchase tickets to the after party, visit shanemcconkey.org.