VAIL - The color pink permeated Vail and Lionshead villages March 9. Some wore plastic flamingos on their heads, some wore pink tutus and one man even wore a pink gorilla suit.
They did it all for cancer in a collective effort to raise more than $250,000 for the Shaw Regional Cancer Center's survivorship program, the Spirit of Survival. As of 11:30 a.m., survivorship services coordinator Margaret Brammer said the goal had either almost been met or already exceeded.
Brammer was part of the Shaw's Cookin' Up a Cure team, made up of women who either work for the Shaw Cancer Center or are cancer survivors.
Brammer said someone is a survivor the minute they're diagnosed. She looked around at all of the pink outfits the morning of March 9 - including the pink aprons that she and her Shaw's Cookin' Up a Cure teammates were wearing - and smiled.
The survivorship program includes fitness and wellness classes, nutrition coaching, peer support, emotional counseling and holistic healing. Most importantly, the program provides support for those who have been diagnosed with any kind of cancer.
People like Dana Clark, of Craig, know all too well how meaningful it is to have support during difficult times. Clark completed treatment at the Shaw Center in December, and she can't say enough about the experience she had there.
She dressed up in pink ski clothes on March 9 and watched hundreds of others do the same. It meant the world to her to see so many people participating and raising money for a good cause.
"The support is amazing," Clark said.
The support comes from all over - family members, folks skiing or riding for a loved one who has passed away, friends and friends of friends. Vail councilmember Margaret Rogers was skiing in pink in support of her friend Kathy Langenwalter, a cancer survivor and the wife of former Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland.
Langenwalter was leading the Pink Flamingos team, and you couldn't miss them on the mountain March 9. They had inflated flamingos attached to their hats and helmets - all in good fun.
Early on March 9, the group had raised more than $11,000 for the Shaw Cancer Center.
Langenwalter went through chemotherapy at the Shaw Center and said she was one of its earliest patients. That difficult time in her life was why she showed her support on March 9 - because she knows what it's like to receive quality care both at the Shaw Cancer Center and at Jack's Place, a 12-room cancer caring house for patients, their caregivers and family members traveling to the Vail Valley for treatment. Jack's Place was named after Dr. Jack Eck, a longtime and beloved Vail-area doctor.
Raising money for such survivors and future survivors has become a joyous celebration - a day to wear pink in support of a fight against a brutal disease, but also a day to stand up and tell the world (or at least the valley) that these survivors and supporters are not going to let cancer win this fight.