Passionate volunteers in the canton of Obwalden

Passionate volunteers in the canton of Obwalden

written on the 29.02.2024

Solidarity cross-country ski race

This major event takes place every 2 years on the Langis Glaubenberg above Sarnen. This cross-country ski race is expertly organised by skilled and dedicated volunteers. It is supported by committed companies and individuals. The aim of the race is to raise funds for the children at La Maison de Terre des hommes Valais. Mariella Peter and Robert Ettlin, two key figures in the organisation alongside Marco Berwert and Urs Burch, share the deep-rooted motivations that led to the launch of this project 25 years ago. The decision was taken in 2008 to donate all profits to La Maison. Discover how this race mobilises the local community, overcomes organisational challenges and provides tangible support for a deeply human cause, touching the hearts of every participant.

How did the idea of setting up a sponsored cross-country ski race come about, and what factors influenced the decision to dedicate the funds raised to La Maison?

Mariella :  The idea was born around 25 years ago when we took part in several “children’s races” in aid of Terre des hommes projects. We gradually began to feel uncomfortable about the fact that the children were asking for help from the people around them every year, and this even led to negative reactions. So, within the Obwalden and Nidwalden working group, we developed the idea of seeking sponsors directly from the organising committee, thus avoiding sending the children out on the track and opting instead for the participation of adults.
And why cross-country skiing?
Probably because we’re surrounded by so many enthusiasts of this discipline.

Robert :  At the fifth edition in 2008 – in a difficult economic situation – the sponsors wanted to know whether the value created with the donated franc was in Switzerland or abroad. The work carried out at ‘La Maison’ has always convinced us and earned us both respect and admiration. It was under these auspices that we decided, from then on, to donate all profits to La Maison.

“It’s rewarding to be a small part of something big.”

Mariella Peter

How do you get the local community involved in the race?

Mariella :  Of the 130 to 180 runners who take part each year, around half are ‘regulars’. Before Christmas, we write to participants from previous years to draw their attention to the race. In addition, a small press article appears in the local paper the week before the race.

Robert :  Over the years, the Langis cross-country ski race has become a tradition and, for some, almost a meeting place. Playing sport together while raising money for a humanitarian cause is both motivating and stimulating.

What challenges does your team face in planning this event?

Mariella : The Ob- and Nidwalden working group provides all the volunteers. Some of them have taken part in every race since the first edition in 2003. And even after so many years, it’s rewarding to be a small cog in something big.

Robert : Finding sponsors involves a considerable investment in terms of work and personal commitment. It’s all about relationships. What’s more, getting together with so many like-minded people makes the day even better.

“Playing sport together while raising money for a humanitarian cause is both motivating and rewarding cause is both motivating and stimulating.”

Robert Ettlin

As volunteers, how do you feel about supporting La Maison de Terre des hommes Valais?

Robert : Most of the members of the organising committee have visited La Maison in Massongex, some of them several times. Each visit leaves us deeply impressed by the achievements here. The help offered to seriously ill children is significant. That’s why we’ve come up with a concrete project.

Mariella : Every donor also knows where the money actually goes. And every donor has the opportunity to see for themselves who will benefit from the money raised. So there’s direct proof that convinces and at the same time inspires respect and admiration.

How do you assess the impact of the race on La Maison de Terre des hommes Valais?

Robert : We’re very pleased that Philippe Gex and Grégory Rausis have done us the honour of coming to Langis, in the canton of Obwalden, for several years now. This year, André Morand, vice-president of the Terre des hommes Valais foundation, has also joined us. This is a great honour for us, creates confidence and motivates us at the same time. La Maison now has a face and we know who uses our money for expenses.

What advice would you give to other volunteer groups considering similar projects?

Mariella : All you need is a few patient people who are prepared to get involved. You have to start small, the race has to become a tradition. Once you’ve found a group of runners and got the organising committee up and running, it’s easy. A two-yearly rhythm is recommended, as it takes the pressure off the organising committee and sponsors.

In conclusion, beyond the sporting event itself, the cross-country ski race organised by these passionate volunteers transcends geographical boundaries. It symbolises a powerful bond between individuals united by a common cause. Thanks to the unwavering commitment of people like Robert and Mariella, La Maison de Terre des hommes Valais continues to shine as a source of hope and support for children who need it most. If you are also inspired to organise an action in favour of La Maison, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The remarkable sum of CHF 89,831.60 was donated to La Maison. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the volunteers, sponsors and participants, whose invaluable support transformed this sporting event into an exceptional show of solidarity.

La Maison also benefits from the support of a new team of volunteers in the canton of Schwyz. Under the leadership of their dynamic chairman Carlo Carletti, these volunteers are working hard to help the children at La Maison. In February 2023, they organised a cross-country ski race on the Oberberg slopes, which raised funds for La Maison. In addition, an exhibition and sale of paintings by the artist Olivera Kälin in aid of La Maison is taking place in Schwyz until the end of May. We would like to thank them warmly for their commitment and generosity.