Anti-can­cer fundraiser sets record

Funds go to the Shaw Re­gional Can­cer Cen­ter.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Ja­son Blevins Ja­son Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@den­ver­ or @ja­son­blevins

vail» Bill Schane, three years into his bat­tle with mesothe­lioma, says he’s lucky to be alive.

“I re­ally shouldn’t be here,” said the long­time Vail lo­cal, fill­ing out a U.S. Ski Team race suit he won at an auc­tion. On his thigh is the sig­na­ture of the suit’s pre­vi­ous owner, Lind­sey Vonn. “I’m not sure how she’d feel about this look.”

Swim­ming through a swarm of fes­tooned rev­el­ers in fuch­sia, Schane raised his arms and the throng roared. He had raised more than $30,000 for Pink Vail, the an­nual rally that sup­ports the Shaw Re­gional Can­cer Cen­ter. In its sixth year, the event at Vail Moun­tain again set a record on Satur­day, with nearly 3,000 par­tic­i­pants rais­ing more than $780,000 for the cen­ter’s vi­brant Spirit of Sur­vival Pro­gram, which of­fers coun­sel­ing, nu­tri­tion con­sul­ta­tions, mas­sage and acupunc­ture ses­sions, yoga classes and well­ness pro­grams for lo­cals la­bor­ing though can­cer’s shadow.

On Satur­day, a tsunami of pink flooded Vail Moun­tain for what it billed as “the world’s big­gest ski day to con­quer can­cer.” Thousands of skiers draped in flam­ing hues of frill, feather and flash stood bright against the gray sky, glow­ing with a zeal that re­flects the kin­ship of the Ea­gle Val­ley.

“This com­mu­nity, what you are look­ing at right now, this is what the spirt of Vail is all about,” said Schane, ad­just­ing his tutu. “We care about each other. I had chemo three days ago and these guys, they’ve taught me how to live.”

A cover band at Vail’s Golden Peak played the Beastie Boys, Jour­ney and Van Halen. Hun­dreds of co­ral-hued pals sang along. So many wigs, tights, sparkles and smiles. Pink Vail hosted 215 can­cer sur­vivors on Satur­day. They joined 395 vol­un­teers, who doled out bub­ble gum snow cones, sold ev­ery vari­a­tion of Pink Vail mer­chan­dise and made sure ev­ery­one on the me­chan­i­cal bull had fun.

Early Satur­day, fundrais­ing had reached $737,000. A strong fin­ish to more than 5,200 do­na­tions pushed the to­tal well be­yond last year’s record and the goal of $750,000. In six years, the Shaw Re­gional Can­cer Cen­ter has raised more than $3.2 mil­lion through Pink Vail, enough to de­velop a deep sup­port net­work for the val­ley’s can­cer fight­ers.

Michelle Court­ney cor­ralled a team of more than 80 mem­bers, sign­ing up fam­i­lies at the Beaver Liquor store in Avon she’s owned for 19 years. Al­most half of her team­mates were kids, who sold pink pop­corn and knocked on doors to raise more than $10,000. Court­ney, who lost her brother and sis­ter-in-law to can­cer in the last three years, has been ral­ly­ing friends and funds for Pink Vail for five years.

“A lot of heal­ing. A lot of men­tal pos­i­tiv­ity,” she said, smil­ing be­hind rose glasses tucked into a neon pink troll wig. “It’s so cool all the money stays right here at home. It’s a lo­cal ef­fort, a team ef­fort, and we see the re­sults ev­ery day.”

Par­tic­i­pants of Pink Vail write notes of en­cour­age­ment to peo­ple who are fight­ing can­cer.

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