What started as a local event that raised $15,000 to help fight what is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease has developed into one of the largest fundraising events in Minnesota.

The 21st annual Black Woods Blizzard Tour is expected to raise more than $1 million this year as 250 snowmobilers from across the region gather to tour Northland snowmobile trails and raise money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Over the first 20 years, the event raised more than $11 million for both research for cures and efforts to make life easier for ALS patients and their families.

Minnesota Twins legends Terry Steinbach and Kent Hrbek and current Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire will again participate in the ride. Steinbach has been involved in all 21 Blizzard Tours to date. He lost his father, Lloyd, to ALS in 1999. Hrbek lost his father, Ed, in 1982, also to ALS.

The very first effort, in 1999, was a tour around Lake Superior. The Blackwoods Blizzard Tour officially began in 2000 with shorter jaunts through Northeastern Minnesota. The event first topped the $1 million mark in 2017 and did it again in 2018 and 2019.

The event begins with riders gathering Wednesday night at Black Woods Event Center in Proctor. The snowmobile ride begins Thursday and continues through Saturday with all 250 riders ending up back in the Duluth area for a Celebration Dinner at Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth, where the final fundraising totals will be revealed. Each rider raises pledges and/or donates toward the fundraising goal.