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Tom Stromme, Bismarck Tribune, Published March 10 2013

Annie’s House ski chalet aims to pay it forward

BOTTINEAU, N.D. – “Buy a home in North Dakota.” That was No. 7 on Ann Nicole Nelson’s famous bucket list that drew the attention of the New York Says Thank You Foundation.

Nelson, of Stanley, died on Sept. 11, 2001, in Tower One of the World Trade Center, where she was working on the 104th floor. Her bucket list was published on her birthday, May 17, 2006, in the New York Times. Gary Nelson said after his daughter’s list was published, he and his wife, Jenette, were contacted by the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which wanted to “pay it forward” in some way in North Dakota.

Several years later, the idea for Annie’s House became a reality.

A groundbreaking last year fell on what would have been Ann’s 41st birthday. A large construction party was held in September with 20 firefighters who survived the 9/11 attacks, along with ground zero construction workers and their families.

They came to Bottineau to work alongside local volunteers in putting up Annie’s House, the area’s first adaptive sports center for people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

It will also be for Wounded Warriors, soldiers who have served in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The interior of Annie's House has 12,000 square feet of space with large windows in a commons area, allowing a panoramic view of the ski area's slopes.

One recent weekend, Gary Nelson was on hand to see the first adaptive skiers use the center. Nelson, a 48-year member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, controlled the first bi-ski for a youth from Portland to ski down the hill at Bottineau Winter Park.