High Altitude Society: Sun Bus educates about skin cancer at charity golf event

Betty Ann Woodland
Special to the Daily

In partnership with the Colorado Melanoma Foundation and Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge and Glenwood Dermatology and EltaMD Skincare, the fifth annual Summit Melanoma Charity Golf Tournament took place at the Club at Cordillera Valley Course on Aug. 18. Dr. Julia Kreger of Vail Dermatology provided free skin exams. Woody Creek and the Breckenridge Brewery provided lunch and drinks on the course. After the full round of golf, there was a reception at the clubhouse, where winners were announced. Live music and a silent auction accompanied the reception.

The tournament presented the Sun Bus to players and visitors. The mobile medical clinic attends major community events throughout Colorado, providing free skin cancer screens and community education on sun safety. The Sun Bus has already attended events with more than 600,000 people and has provided free sunscreen, facial UV damage analysis and educational materials to more than 12,000 people since its launch on May 4. To date, it has provided more than 650 free skin screenings have been provided and referred 85 suspected cancerous lesions to local dermatology providers, including four melanomas.

Since its inception five years ago, the Summit Melanoma Charity Golf Tournament has been dedicated to developing and supporting the Sun Bus program. The event this year was dedicated to supporting the ongoing operation of the bus. The Sun Bus is especially necessary right here in Colorado, where altitude results in some of the highest UV exposure levels in the country. In Summit and Eagle counties, UV levels in sunlight are more than 45% more than at the same latitude at sea level. Since UV exposure causes skin aging, as well as deadly skin cancers such as melanoma, extra care and attention are necessary to prevent sunburns and skin UV damage for those living in the Vail Valley.

Sun Bus executive director Neil Box brainstormed fundraising and outreach ideas for skin-cancer prevention with local dermatologist Karen Nern.

“It was Karen’s idea: ‘We need a bus,’ she said. It has been a wonderful experience working with her,” Box said. “We are out helping people and doing things that matter and impact health. Thank you, Karen, for getting on board and doing something good. We have worked on the Sun Bus as a team, and this is the result. I feel honored and privileged to work with this team. I love this project and the people it has given me a chance to meet, and Karen is one of them. She has had a leading influence and seminal role by giving guidance and input. It has been a great collaboration.”

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Nern arrived in a colorful golf outfit on the day of the Summit Melanoma Tournament. She was thrilled with the successes of the Sun Bus.

“We have screened about 700 people and found 80 skin cancers,” Nern said. “Our bus has two private exam rooms, and has been a hit at 30 event days since May.”

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Betty Ann Woodland covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds. Her email address is

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