Debbie Butt
Credit: Debbie Butt

Debbie Butt at the finish line of the 2015 Boulder Mountain Tour, a 34-kilometre skate ski race she does every February

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice director of communications Debbie Butt on skate skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho—this year, to celebrate her 50th birthday

I’ve been skate skiing since 2001. Skate ski is an amazing off-season complement to swimming, biking, running, which is what we do a lot of in the fall, spring and summer. It is great for your cardio. It’s really good upper-body work—your quads, your glutes—and it’s a very rhythmic kind of pace. It takes a lot of practice to be good at it—I’m still a work-in-progress. It’s a great winter workout. It’s raining in the city, but it’s snowing in the mountains, so you go up to Cypress or the Callaghan Valley in Whistler, and it’s beautiful and it’s snowing and you’re out in the woods.

My girlfriend Cristina Linden told me about this race called the Boulder Mountain Tour. The first one I did was in 2013. The race is a 34-kilometre skate ski race the first Saturday in February. It’s in Sun Valley, which is about 1,800 metres above sea level—the village of Whistler is 670 metres above sea level—so you’re up there. You definitely feel your chest right away, like, “Oh my gosh, how come I’m so short of breath?” There are about 1,000 participants in the race. There are quite a few Canadians that go down, so there’s people from Whistler; you see some Vancouverites down there.

The whole town comes out to volunteer, there’s the beautiful scenery of the Sawtooth mountain range, and there’s a big community festival going on every day. That community feel is why I like where I work at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. We provide medical care to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, but we do it with a community of support, and that’s what that race is like. Pediatric palliative care doesn’t happen without physicians, nurses, counsellors, recreation therapists and donors all coming together to make that support happen. It’s a very similar kind of environment down there.


Warrior Spotlight

Before joining Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in 2012, Debbie Butt was executive director of the Canucks for Kids Fund, which has contributed more than $28 million to the hospice since it opened in 1995.