Teen remembered at 1st Annual Birchwood Chill Challenge - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Teen remembered at 1st Annual Birchwood Chill Challenge


Birchwood (WQOW) - Close to 90 people took a plunge into icy waters today to benefit students of an area high school. Today was the first year for the Birchwood Chill Challenge. The event is a new fundraiser for the community's high school, and is in memory of a student's tragic death.

"Triston was what you'd think a man should be," said Winston Sager, Triston's father.

Its been less than a year since 15 year-old Triston Sager of Birchwood died in an automobile accident. It happened in July 2012. 

"He was with two friends, one who was driving, and one who was in the back by Triston," Winston explained.

The vehicle, a modified truck, hit an embankment.

"Triston was flung forward, and it severed the artery in his spine," Winston said.

He died later that night from his injuries.

On Sunday, former teachers, family members, and classmates jumped into Birch Lake for the First Annual Birchwood Chill Challenge, a fundraiser for Birchwood High School in Triston's memory.

"You could see he had a work ethic, he loved life, he accepted everybody. This whole event is because this is the type of person Triston was. He would have been person first in the water given the chance," said Winston.

"Triston was one of my first friends when I came to Birchwood in eighth grade. And he always had the best smile, he was always helping everybody. Even if there was no benefit for him, he'd always just throw himself in there and help anyone he could out," said Bryce Gjerde, a Birchwood High School student.

Money raised at the Chill Challenge on Sunday will benefit future Birchwood High graduates.

"We're looking at right now probably giving back half to three quarters of it back to our students. And then it will be put into a fund and it will build year after year so next year we'll be here doing this all over again," explained Eric Rademaker, a social studies teacher at Birchwood High School. "Scholarships will go to any student who is enrolled in their second term of either college or tech school," he continued.

"Triston lived about half of his life in this town, and that he is so connected to these people and that they knew him so well to understand who he was is an amazing tribute to him," Winston said.

Organizers say they were able to raise over $6,000 at the event.

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