Multop’s Featured Client – June 2017

Multop’s Featured Client

Pam & Fin Lyons – The Reverse Dogsled Race

At approximately 2:20 am on an early February morning, a fast-moving and devastating fire blazed through a 30-unit apartment complex in Anchorage, AK that left 2 people dead, 16 injured, and displaced many residents and families. Even though the fire department was able to arrive on scene just a few minutes after the initial 911 calls were placed, the fire spread so quickly that firefighters could not reach residents on the upper levels with the ladder truck in time. The flames and smoke were so intense that some residents had no choice but to jump out of the second and third story windows in order to survive. Others resorted to dropping their own children into the open arms of fellow residents below in an attempt to escape in time. Those who were lucky enough to use the stairs ran by and pounded on doors to evacuate as many as possible. The apartment complex had experienced a false alarm a week prior, which left some residents wondering if this was another one. It turns out, it was not. The fire department credits the apartment staff with being instrumental in sounding the alarm and evacuating as many people as possible.

Such a tragic event is devastating for any community, but in Alaska, where environmental conditions can already be extreme enough to kill, it especially hits home. As news of the apartment fire broke out, Pam and Fin Lyons knew they could do something to help those in need. After participating in the Women’s March in Anchorage just a month prior, Pam had told herself that she wanted to do something more charitable to give back to the community. After the fatal apartment fire happened, Fin proposed the idea of reverse dogsled racing, so they partnered with the American Red Cross of Alaska and set up a fundraiser event for the victims. What is Reverse Dogsled Racing you may ask? Eight teams of five people each competed in a bracket-style competition by putting on a harness and pulling their own team members (no dogs were actually involved). With sleds made out of shopping carts, dog crates, laundry baskets, and even wooden boxes. There was even a Pac-Man shaped sled with the team members dressed like the ghosts from the game. They raced 250 yards across the snowy Kincaid Park.

The teams raised money for the event, with amounts ranging from $400 all the way up to $4,000. Erin Ballantyne, one of the racers in the event, said “We just wanted to raise money and do it the Alaskan way.” Over at the Kincaid Chalet, many local businesses and residents donated items and cash for an indoor auction and other various family activities. Sen. Lisa Murkowski donated an Alaskan flag. In the end, they raised about $19,000. Some of the proceeds went to the American Red Cross of Alaska to help the fire victims. The rest of the funds were donated in the memory of Zach Johnson, a close family friend of Pam and Fin who had tragically passed away last year; to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees which helps refugees worldwide. Zach’s mother and Pam had attended nursing school together and while his passing was not associated with the apartment fire, Pam and Fin were happy to help honor his memory and chose to donate funds from the event to an organization the family felt he would have supported. “He loved to travel, considered himself a citizen of the world, and loved to help people, so raising money for international refugees was an obvious fit,” says Fin. “His family supported the event, created some of the graphics for our flyers from his artwork as a kid and took part in the event as the hippy bus.”

“It is incredible how giving people are, they want to help, they want opportunities to help, and they just need those opportunities to present themselves. Doing this has shown me how easy it is to help the community and how rewarding it is,” said Pam. “This proved the public’s willingness to help anyway they could. People across the spectrum opened their hearts.”

While Pam and Fin had considered making this an annual event, they are expecting to move around a lot in the future, and thus they will be transferring the rights to the event to the American Red Cross of Alaska. In the meantime, if you are interested in donating to their cause or learning more, please visit their website at http://reversedogsledrace.com/ . Or you can contact Pam directly by phone at 907-229-7666 or by email at [email protected]

Fin is currently a Commissioning Engineer and 10 year employee of BP. The first nine years of his BP career were spent in Project Management before he transferred to Commissioning for the last year. Pam, who started her career as a nurse, is now a stay-at-home mom as they have a 2-year-old and a 9-month old to care for. When asked about their hobbies, Fin said that “they used to have hobbies before kids!” All joking aside, Pam and Fin do enjoy travelling and scuba diving in whatever spare time that they have. They also have a love/hate relationship with motorcycles; as in Fin loves them and Pam hates them. “It’s probably because she was a nurse before she was a mom,” said Fin. At Multop Financial, we are proud of Pam & Fin Lyons’ accomplishments in helping those struck by tragedy and we are honored to serve their financial needs.