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Pink Vail goes bigger than ever

People gather at Mid-Vail during Pink Vail on Saturday in Vail. The event raised money for cancer patients and was held throught Vail with live music, food and games.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com |

VAIL — Bill Schane was supposed to be dead a year ago, but he had a lot more to contribute.

The part-time Beaver Creek resident and his fundraising team, “Don’t Go It Alone,” raised $43,000 this year and won the best costume contest at the sixth annual Pink Vail ski day in honor of cancer.

“Don’t Go It Alone” was one of 220 teams and 2,752 individual participants who raised over $780,000 on Saturday.

Schane, who has mesothelioma, underwent chemotherapy at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center earlier this week. On Saturday, he participated in the on snow celebrations of life, taking a few ski laps on Whipper Snapper in Golden Peak, which was ground zero for the festivities this year.

“’Don’t Go It Alone’ means talking to people and saying ‘Can you help me with this?’ Schane said Saturday. “The Shaw Cancer Center helped me as a survivor. I didn’t know what surviving was and they taught me about that.”

‘LONG, HARD ROAD’

Schane’s friend Chuck McArthur has been with him through multiple surgeries and “more chemo treatments than I can count,” McArthur said. In addition to Schane’s wife, Chelle, McArthur was a person Schane could count on to be there when he woke up in the hospital after surgeries. Mesothelioma can be a particularly intense form of cancer and Schane has learned that the hard way, McArthur said.

“He has a very long, hard road ahead of him,” McArthur said. “It’s not something that most people can ‘beat,’ like a lot of cancers. But he is a phenom. He is all about his fitness and his attitude, and he attacks it like a project.”

After a surgery in Chicago and a surgery in Houston, Schane said he was at the end of where those hospitals could take him when he came across a video from Margaret Brammer who ran the survivor program at Shaw.

“I listened to to the video about survivorship, and I took the video back into my wife and was in tears, and I saw we’re going to do what these guys do,” Schane said.

He sought out Brammer and the Shaw Cancer Center, and she encouraged him.

“It just went from there,” Schane said. “I learned of the Minturn Fitness Center, met Miles Gentry and Jake Wurth, and I asked them if they had ever worked with a cancer guy.”

Gentry is a strength and conditioning coach with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, and Wurth is the club’s director of strength and conditioning.

Embodying a team name that had not yet been created, Schane asked Gentry and Wurth if they could help him with his fitness. They gladly accepted the challenge.

“Every day, every day I thank those guys at Minturn Fitness Center and Shaw Cancer Center,” Schane said.

Schane, McArthur, Gentry, Wurth and about 35 other people have joined “Don’t Go It Alone” and have raised roughly $75,000 in the three years they have been participating in Pink Vail.

This year, McArthur had been thinking of costume ideas for the event when an opportunity presented itself. Working with the dress shop Alyces Paris out of Chicago, he asked if they could donate a few pink prom gowns for costumes. Gentry adorned the most decorated of the dresses, skied all day and took home top honors for Pink Vail best costume, a highly competitive side event on the day.

“I had probably 50 people ask if they could take selfies with me,” Gentry said.

McArthur said it was more like 100.

“It was unbelievable, how much attention this dress attracted,” he said. “I guess it deserved to win.

“And I gotta say he wore it beautifully,” McArthur added.

ALL AGES

While many in attendance were Pink Vail veterans, there were also scores of newcomers at the event. The decision to move things to Golden Peak this year helped get non-skiers included in the festivities, as crowds spilled off the in-town bus directly into the venue.

Among the first time attendees was team Peggy’s Prayer Posse, out of Leadville, which included Sarah Savage, Sue Burks, Mary Ann Best and Peggy Marshall. Marshall is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Leadville and a cancer survivor. Their group included skiers in their 60s and 70s, and in a showcase of the all-ages theme of the event, they joined Ally Maule, age 8, and her friends in the final run of the day down Whippersnapper.

Maule was skiing with her sister, Samantha, age 10, and Harris Horowitz, age 11. Horowitz was skiing in honor of Grant Pinkos, who is not much older than him and recovering from cancer.

“I went to pre school with his brother,” Harris Horowitz said.

Horowitz’s father Stan, who also attended the event, said Pinkos is in remission.

“We’re really, really happy for him,” Stan Horowitz said. “That’s who we’re out here rooting for.”

The Horowitzs had never attended Pink Vail before this year, but Harris’ grandfather, Eagle resident Jungle Fuhrman, enjoys the event every year.

“We’re here from New York City to get in some spring break skiing, but we also planned our dates around attending this event,” Stan Horowitz said.

OVER $3M TOTAL

Dr. Jack Eck, after whom the Shaw Cancer Center’s retreat “Jack’s Place” is named, put in a long day helping set things up at Pink Vail on Saturday.

Eck is one of the major reasons the Shaw Regional Cancer Center exists. In helping get it off the ground, Eck said he never dreamed it would become what it is today.

“It’s just a little cancer center out there in the mountains, nobody ever thought we would be anything like this,” he said.

Similarly, in seeing fundraising efforts take shape over the years, he said he could have never conceived of an even as spectacular as Pink Vail.

“Michael Holton is the one who came up with the idea of how to raise money for this,” Eck said. “The original focus of the pink was for breast cancer but now the funds are going to all forms of cancer.”

Holton, who is the Vice President of Marketing at Vail Valley Medical Center, said it was a team effort.

“Our marketing team came up with the idea, and now we’ve raised over $3.1 million in six years,” Holton said.

Holton said the fact that the Shaw Regional Cancer Center is one of the only cancer centers in a ski community in the U.S. helped contribute to the success of a ski day for cancer.

“When we came to Vail Mountain, we had a big long sales pitch of ‘please let us do this,’ and within 10 seconds they said ‘we’re in,’” Holton said.

Visit pinkvail.com for the latest fundraising totals, or information on how to get involved in next year’s event.


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