Hike, Wine & Dine for Jack’s Place cancer caring house is Sept. 17 at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Hike, Wine & Dine for Jack’s Place cancer caring house is Sept. 17 at Beaver Creek

Laura Bell
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK — Aspens teeming with color, mimosas in the morning at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, hiking five miles with old friends and making new ones along the way, food and drinks from some of the finest restaurants in Beaver Creek and raising money for a good cause: What's not to love about the annual Hike, Wine & Dine for Jack's Place?

Not much, as this annual event sells out each year.

The ninth annual Hike, Wine & Dine takes place Sunday and this year's menu has something to please all palates.

"We're not eating Doritos and Clif Bars with Gatorade along the way," joked Sue Franciose, the event's co-founder and organizer, who recalled how this highly anticipated event came to be.

"Lynn Gottlieb and I were trying to figure out how to raise money for Jack's Place that wasn't a black-tie, fancy affair," she said. "We wanted a fun, family affair that was affordable that took advantage of our outdoors and backyard."

At the time, Gottlieb subscribed to a French magazine and saw an ad for a hiking wine and dine event. She mentioned it to Franciose, and the two decided to "give it a go" and see if it would work.

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Pear and Nutella crepes, courtesy of Splendido, Colorado lamb meatballs, heirloom grits and grilled Palisade peaches, from Grouse Mountain Grill, are simply a few of the menu items in which participants on the five mile jaunt will partake.

Mountain therapy

Jack's Place cancer caring house is adjacent to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. Named for longtime Vail Valley doctor Jack Eck, the center is equipped with guest rooms, community kitchen, yoga studio, massage room, meditation center and a library designed to give comfort and care to patients undergoing cancer treatments. The golden caveat: Those receiving treatment pay only what they can afford.

Eck, a Vietnam veteran, first came to Vail in 1971. He had not finished his medical training but worked for a while in the local Vail clinic — pre-hospital days — and found the mountains to be therapeutic, especially after his time in the service.

"Instead of welcoming the servicemen home, we were spit on," he said. "Not that many people know that part of my life, but the anti-war protests and the reaction to Vietnam vets at the time was not positive."

He went to Denver, finished his residency and returned to the mountains, where he found peace. He knew he wanted to share that with others, especially cancer patients. Unbeknownst to Eck, Hal and Mary Lou Shaw were integral in naming the caring house after Eck.

"They told me to come to the unveiling of the sign, and when they unveiled it, I was blown away," he said.

With its views of the New York Range and services provided, Eck believes the caring house is indeed therapeutic, which is integral to those undergoing treatment. Each year, Eck attends the hike, which he enjoys, as it is a time to reconnect with friends and "just enjoy the outdoors and beautiful colors in the mountains and have a bite along the way."

Path to self-sustainability

This year, Eck is equally pleased that the funds raised are dedicated to complete a $4 million endowment, so Jack's Place can be self-sustaining.

"Each year, the Shaw Outreach Team decides where the funds will go," Eck explained

Shelley Pinkham, director of annual giving and community engagement for Vail Health, which operates the Shaw Regional Cancer Center and Jack's Place.

"All the funds raised stay here. This is a great way to increase the endowment and make Jack's Place self-sustaining."

Donors have stepped forward to match up to $100,000. The tickets for the event are not eligible. However, participants can purchase yellow ribbons that adorn the route to honor loved ones affected by cancer. These are considered as donations, as well, and will be matched. Volunteers put on the ribbons before the hike for the event, but anyone can purchase a yellow ribbon.

"This is a very mellow, family-friendly event," said Pinkham.

Dogs are welcome, but must be leashed.

While there are still tickets available, Pinkham advises those considering it to purchase theirs sooner, rather than later.

"Last year, we had to turn people away," she said.

Additional restaurants and items served include assorted craft beers from Vail Brewing Co.; cold-pressed, fresh, organic juices from Green Elephant Juicery; breakfast croissants from the Beaver Creek Hyatt; calamari salad dip on crackers from The Dusty Boot; seared ahi tuna nachos from The Metropolitan; prime rib sliders with Irish cheddar, arugula and horseradish from the Beaver Creek Chophouse; smoked pork green chili by Osprey and Palisade peach yogurt with assorted toppings from Rimini.

If you go …

What: Hike, Wine & Dine, an annual fundraiser for Jack’s Place, a cancer caring house.

When: Sunday, Sept. 17. Hikers will meet at the Centennial Chairlift at the base of Beaver Creek at 9:30 a.m.

Where: Beaver Creek Resort.

Cost: Registration is $100 per person and includes food, wine and a commemorative gift. Teenagers ages 13 to 19 are $50, and children younger than 12 are free. There are also individual sponsorship tickets available from $500 to $10,000.

More information: To learn more about the event or to purchase tickets, visit hikewinedine.com. For additional information about Jack’s Place, visit http://www.vailhealth.org/services/cancer-diagnostics-care/about-jack’s-place.