Pink Vail exceeds goals, again
VAIL — As the annual Pink Vail celebration dazzles the eyes with an explosion of color every spring, it also baffles the mind with its fundraising success.
The total raised at this year’s event — the world’s largest ski day in support of cancer — was nearly $700,000 as of 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We are overwhelmed by the incredible enthusiasm and support (the event receives),” Vail Valley Medical Center President and CEO Doris Kirchner said during Saturday’s festivities.
Bringing in people from all around the world, this year 162 teams participated and more than 5,000 donations came through pinkvail.com.
Skiing in support of her mother, who died of cancer two years ago, Isabella Grubemthal, of Austria, traveled for 24 hours to take part in Pink Vail. Her traveling companion, 68-year-old Ewald Hohenberger, was on the slopes in honor of his friend, Horst Kasper, who passed away two months ago.
“We were 24 hours awake, 8 hours asleep, and right out to ski,” Hohenberger said after a full day of skiing on Saturday.
Raising more than $5,000, Dana Dimitri came into town from Chicago just for Pink Vail. She was on Team Vail Mountain Club, which contained 67 members in total and raised more than $42,000, said team organizer Ashley Cawthorn, herself a cancer survivor. Also on the Vail Mountain Club team, Linda Hanson, of Castle Pines, raised more $20,605 to be crowned the event’s top individual fundraiser. She said she started the efforts only a month ago, and her goal was to raise $10,000.
“I have a lot of friends, and when I didn’t hear I’d bug them again and bug them again, and if I didn’t hear back from email I’d text them and leave voicemails,” she said.
By Saturday, Hanson had received donations from 108 people, single-handedly accounting for more than 10 percent of the event’s total fundraising goal of $180,000.
Now in its fourth year, Pink Vail has raised more than $1.6 million for patients undergoing treatment at Shaw Regional Cancer Center, the center reported Saturday.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds stay local, benefiting the cancer center’s Spirit of Survival program,” communications manager Emily Tambrino wrote in a press release. “It offers all cancer patients and survivors at Shaw the opportunity to receive free exercise training, nutrition coaching, emotional support, outdoor adventures, a nurse navigator, massages, integrative treatments and much more.”
On Saturday, cancer survivor Shelly Wilcox verified the Shaw Regional Cancer Center’s efforts.
“I call it Jack’s Hotel, not Jack’s Place,” Wilcox told Pink Vail announcer Mark Sassi in reference to the Shaw Center’s lodging facility for those undergoing cancer treatments. “It’s like a 5-star hotel. It really saved my life, not only physically but mentally. My sons were able to visit, I received spa treatments, massages, you name it. They took us on a hut trip to Shrine Pass; it was wonderful.”
Participants enjoyed live music, a deck-to-deck checkpoint challenge with games, food and prizes, and at the end of the day, more than 1,200 pink skiers descended Simba Run, renamed Pink Vail Trail for the day, in the celebration ski down. In the first group to ski down was Danielle Taylor and her father Art, skiing for their friend Ezra Kaiser and Art’s mother, Joan Taylor, who passed away about a year ago due to brain cancer.
“It was a really fun day,” Danielle said.
“A really great event for a great cause,” Art added. “Everyone knows someone affected by cancer.”
In 2016, Pink Vail will be held on April 2. For more information, visit pinkvail.com.