Anti-cancer fundraiser sets record
Funds go to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center.
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.