A Broadway show of support for Vail locals
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Inside a Vail dance studio, the song “Tap Your Troubles Away” plays from a small stereo as a group of teenagers clacks out a famous tap combination.
The song’s theme – dancing to erase worries – has a deeper meaning for the students rehearsing Broadway songs Friday.
As she practices tap steps, 16-year-old Bailey Garton knows her childhood friend, Andrew Claymon, is fighting to stay alive in Nebraska.
“I haven’t seen him for a while since he went to Nebraska but it’s good to know that I can help out his family,” she said.
Claymon’s family will be among the beneficiaries of an upcoming fundraiser. “Life Unrehearsed: The Audition” will take place Tuesday at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. The performance will raise money for the families of local youths who are fighting life-threatening diseases. Area high schoolers have teamed up with college students to put on a Broadway-themed extravaganza for the second year. The event will benefit Claymon along with Thomas Walsh and Luke Dillon.
“Kids came up to me last May and said ‘Our friends are sick,'” event organizer Rayla Kundolf recalled.
To help their ailing friends, the kids decided to put on a show. They raised $12,000 last year and Kundolf said she hopes to raise $15,000 to $20,000 this year for the families.
Claymon has been grappling with a rare cancer that originated in his spine and spread throughout his body. The 16-year-old from Edwards has been receiving hospice care. His dad, Mike Claymon, said the family appreciates the upcoming fundraiser.
“We’re extremely grateful to everyone involved,” he said.
Mike Claymon said Friday that Andrew was lethargic “but still with us.”
Also set to benefit from the fundraiser, 21-year-old Luke Dillon grew up in the Vail area and has been fighting brain cancer. He’s on medical leave from classes at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. His dad, Eagle resident David Butler, said Dillon went to a Boston hospital last June thinking he had an earache, only to discover he had a baseball-sized tumor. Dillon has received surgery and various treatments and, about two weeks ago, doctors told Dillon his cancer was in remission, his father said.
“He’s starting to get his energy back,” Butler said of his son. “It’s a pretty significant cancer but his hope and drive and energy is climbing.”
Butler estimates his son’s medical costs have reached over a million dollars. Dillon has health insurance but he could still face astronomical out-of-pocket costs. His father estimates the out-of-pocket costs have reached at least $100,000. Adding to the family’s concerns, Butler’s wife, Cheryl McQuaid, suffers from a serious autoimmune disorder.
Butler said he appreciates the fundraiser. He was impressed with last year’s “Life Unrehearsed” performance.
“Their level of quality will just blow you away,” he said.
Vail teen Thomas Walsh has been battling Ewing’s sarcoma. He received the diagnosis a little over a year ago and has undergone surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, said Karen Simon, executive director of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.
“Last I heard he is cancer free,” she said. “He’s doing very well.”
Still, Walsh faces follow-up care and a future surgery, so the money from the fundraiser will help to offset his expenses while he is in treatment, she said.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.