Not all heroes wear capes: Annual Superhero Ski Day at Vail Mountain to benefit Roundup River Ranch
Fundraising ski day is Saturday, March 14
Sometimes superheroes need help.
On Saturday, March 14, Roundup River Ranch’s annual Superhero Ski Day on Vail Mountain is a family-friendly event featuring a superhero headquarters, kid-friendly activities all day as well as an après party with drinks and live music. Awards will be given to the top fundraising team and the best costumes for children and adults.
In 2019, Roundup River Ranch provided more than 1,900 camper experiences for their “superheroes.” Experiences at Roundup River Ranch, a medical specialty camp located on 120 acres in eastern Eagle County along the Colorado River Road, are completely free of charge for their campers.
The camp, part of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, provides diagnosis-specific camps for children with serious illnesses, including cancer, asthma and lung disease, as well as family weekend camps throughout the summer to include parents and siblings. The superheroes that attend Roundup River Ranch receive a true camp experience — ziplining, horseback riding, stargazing, s’mores making and more — all tailored to make possible no matter the camper’s condition.
“The thing that is really impactful about our program is everything we do is free of charge, and our families that have significant financial burdens — that’s life-changing for them,” said Sterling Nell Leija, the executive camp director who lives on the Colorado ranch. “Many of our families get both respite and recreation out of the opportunity, which are two things they may not otherwise get as a family.”
All funds raised from the Superhero Ski Day at Vail in March will go toward Roundup River Ranch to continue enriching the lives of children with serious illnesses and their families from an 11-state region.
“We have so many campers who come here with limitations and knowing what they can’t do,” said Leija, who has a background in educational psychology and has been working at some sort of medical camp since she was 14 years old. “They get to come to camp and learn what they can do.”
Leija also sits on the board of the American Camp Association and travels to conferences across the country to stay up to date with trends and practices — both for camps that require special medical attention and those that don’t.
Roundup River Ranch is able to cover costs for its campers thanks to volunteers, both near and far, as well as donors and year-round fundraising, such as the Superhero Ski Day.
Local art teachers offer supplies and expertise, chefs donate their time to cook up quality camp meals and doctors provide around-the-clock coverage. Hasboro donates board games for the cabins. Abercrombie & Fitch supplies hundreds of thousands of T-shirts, and local Walmart employees provide the manpower and cleaning supplies to open and close camp each year. Vail Health is a partner of Roundup River Ranch, as is RA Nelson, Gorsuch, Bravo! Vail and Slifer Designs. Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise program also contributes to camp each summer.
Roundup River Ranch has friends in many places, and is always looking for more.
“No matter what your volunteer interest is, there’s something here for you,” Leija said.
Summer camps run weekly from May through October. Visit http://www.roundupriverranch.org for more information, to sign up for the Superhero Ski Day or for volunteer opportunities at summer camp.
“Something that really sets us apart are our partnerships and collaborations with hospitals,” Leija said. “We’re able to bring in specialists. I think what’s incredible is how the Vail Valley and this community has come around camp and embraced camp in whatever way they’re passionate about.”
According to Yale Child Study Center research, nearly 80% of parents reported their children who attended a SeriousFun Camp like Roundup River Ranch showed improved confidence, higher self-esteem, a greater sense of self-independence and an increased level in social activities.
The campus itself offers natural healing powers, with the river flowing through and no traffic to be seen. A 100-year-old telescope was recently donated to Roundup River Ranch from a woman out of Texas that will open the night sky to campers next summer. There’s archery, challenge courses, equestrian programs, fishing, boating as well as singing, dancing, stage night, no-hands spaghetti dinner and much more.
“We’re able to provide that ‘normal’ camp experience for kids that have serious medical conditions,” Leija said.
In addition to the summer camps, Roundup River Ranch works to coordinate year-round events across the region to reunite campers, such as at an Avalanche game or an outing at Glenwood Adventure Park.
“We call them our superheroes because they’ve been through so much in their life and they’re coming out ahead and happy,” said Jennifer Clark, marketing and communications manager for Roundup River Ranch.
Sign up for the Superhero Ski Day
Visit http://www.superheroskiday.com to register for the Superhero Ski Day on Saturday, March 14. Visit http://www.roundupriverranch.org for more information about Roundup River Ranch, providing a traditional camp experience to children with serious illnesses — free of charge.
Volunteer with Roundup River Ranch this summer
Volunteer opportunities are also available in groups and include:
- Cabin leader
- Kitchen assistant
- Residential life assistant (summer camp only)
- Medical desk attendant (summer camp only)
- Program leader (family camp only)
- Medical Team: MD, DO, PA, NP, RN, paramedic, EMT, RT, PT and pharmacists
- Volunteers must be 19 years old or older to apply. Visit http://www.roundupriverranch.org to apply.