A couple of months ago we were scrolling through our social media feed when something caught our eye. Our friends at Skinz Protective Gear were giving away a snowmobile. But this wasn’t your typical giveaway.
This was one of the coolest builds we’ve ever seen: a custom mad-max, military-themed Arctic Cat M8000 barely-recognizable under the host of military green, custom-built Skinz products.
How a small, family-owned and operated company can give away a snowmobile is impressive, but why they were giving away a snowmobile is what really caught our attention. Skinz called this the Ultimate Freedom giveaway, with a tagline that reads “Providing opportunities for those who deserve it the most.”
And to enter ... well, you couldn’t enter. Someone else had to nominate you.
“Our industry is full of action heroes and many who aspire to be really good at riding,” Jeff Hawksworth, owner of Skinz Protective Gear, said. “But what we wanted to do is find some real heroes—people who have sacrificed greatly and have been through a lot. We wanted to find those people and use our industry and community to celebrate them and lift them up.”
The contest kicked off in early October at the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo in Denver, CO, as well as a modest social media push announcing the program.
“This was a small experiment and we had no idea what we were about to unleash,” Jon Miller, creative director at Skinz, said. “We opened it up for nominations for a short three-week window and had our industry friends’ help with sharing it. And then we braced ourselves for how many entries we would get.”
The nominations trickled in slowly at first. “They were emotionally-charged accounts of dozens of brave men and women—best friends, spouses, sons, daughters, parents, siblings,” Miller said. “I couldn’t read through any of the nomination entries without crying. I personally had no idea how the Hawksworth family was going to pick the winners.”
As Veteran’s Day drew closer, the pressure was on. Three finalists were selected, based on two points of criteria—sacrifice as well as a passion for snowmobiling. “Sacrifice was the most important, of course,” Hawksworth said. “But we also wanted to make sure that whoever won this snowmobile, that it would be used to its potential, and that it would get into the hands of someone who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to own a new sled.”