Vail Today: Pink Vail benefits Spirit of Survival programs (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Pink Vail benefits Spirit of Survival programs (video)

Since 2012, Pink Vail has "pinkified" the slopes of Vail Mountain each spring with thousands of participants all dressed in various shades of pink. Teams and individuals have raised more than $2.4 million during the event's short — yet impressive — history.

What began as a breast cancer benefit quickly became an event where the proceeds could help those with all cancers being treated at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. The Shaw Center's patient assistance and Spirit of Survival programs would not be possible without Pink Vail.

Within our short visit to the Shaw's fitness center, which is a medically supervised, in-house exercise rehab program, we could see something beyond heart rates and exercise machines. We experienced the camaraderie and encouragement among patients and survivors.

Susie Johnson, a valley resident for 50 years, is fighting a terminal form of pancreatic cancer. Johnson is a two-year survivor, which she said is very rare. Even though she had already been on her cross-country skis earlier that day, she wanted to come in and see the crew.

"I think my attitude has helped, as well as all the exercise in here. It's fabulous. It's like a family, and it encourages you to come back in," she said. "I do something every day, whether it's their yoga classes, ski, cross-country. It clears your mind."

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Kim Green is from Fairplay and comes for a week at a time and stays at Jack's Place, a cancer-caring house that is adjacent to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center. She could have treated her breast cancer in Denver or Colorado Springs but chose Eagle County because it had come highly recommended by friends who also had treatment here.

"They not only have the fitness programs, but they also have nutrition classes, group therapy classes with other cancer patients and cancer survivors, so it's just nice to focus on me and focus on getting better with this help," Green said.

Even though these programs are very helpful to the patients and have a positive impact on their quality of life, they are rarely covered by insurance. Pink Vail's fundraising efforts are what keep these programs alive and, better yet, free. Learn more about these programs in today's video, and to sign up for the event, go to http://www.pinkvail.com.