Burke's medical bills covered by fundraiser

Sarah Burke passed away on Jan. 19, 2012. Giveforward.com/sarahburke

A fund set up for the late Sarah Burke has now raised $271,678 and counting. Established last Thursday by Burke's agent, Michael Spencer, the fund was created to help Burke's family pay the medical costs accrued during her time at the University of Utah hospital.

Burke died last Thursday from injuries sustained Jan. 10 in a crash in the halfpipe at Park City, Utah.

Although the hospital has not yet issued Burke's family a bill, costs are estimated to be around $200,000, according to a recent release issued by Spencer. "Once charges are finalized, the University will work with Health Canada to determine what type of coverage may be available and what their contribution will be, as Sarah is a Canadian citizen," said Spencer.

The fund's website states that enough money has been raised to cover the anticipated costs related to Burke's medical treatment. Any additional money raised will go to help cover a memorial service and to establish a foundation to honor the six-time Winter X Games champion.

Stickers saying "Believe in Sarah" and "Remember Sarah" are also being sold, with all proceeds going to Burke's memorial fund. Many athletes sported the stickers on their skis and helmets at the recent Winter Dew Tour stop at Killington, Vt., citing that they were competing in honor of Burke.

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, of which Burke was a national team member, does offer insurance coverage for athletes but only for required activities within the Canadian team program, either in Canada or another country. "The inclusion into the Olympic Games Sport program has produced a period where halfpipe and slopestyle skiers are transitioning from being wholly independent professional athletes to members of full-service national team programs," read a release from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. "There are occasions where athletes are involved in private sponsor training, photo shoots and events which operate outside of the National Team program and mandate."

Said Spencer, "[Sarah's] family continues to be extremely grateful for the outpouring of support and messages honoring Sarah and the generous contributions that have been made."