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Pink Vail hits the slopes

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
All-day music will entertain participants at Eagle's Nest during Pink Vail.
Zach Mahone | Special to the Daily |

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

In its first three years, Pink Vail raised more than $1 million to benefit patient care and the Spirit of Survival program at Shaw Regional Cancer Center. This unique survivorship program offers all patients complimentary services that can dramatically impact quality of life but are not typically covered by insurance. In 2014, the “Spirit of Survival” program provided:

1,352 fitness sessions

848 emotional support sessions

492 massage or acupuncture sessions

423 nutrition consultations

234 patients attended the Celebration of Life Luncheon

24 patients experienced the Shaw Hut Trip or the Epic Experience Adventure Weekend

100s of patients participated in group snowshoes, cooking demos, art and pottery classes, hikes, events and educational lectures

VAIL — When Edwards resident Lisa Stoffel first signed up for Pink Vail, a fundraising day to “conquer cancer,” she had no idea just how much the cause would mean to her a few years later.

Stoffel originally participated in the all-day ski fest and celebration on Vail Mountain to support her friend, who was marking several years of being cancer free. She’s been a part of Pink Vail every year since the inaugural event, but this year will be different. Stoffel was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2014 and experienced first-hand the benefits of the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, which is supported by all the proceeds from Pink Vail.

“Now I’ve switched from fundraiser and supporter to survivor,” said Stoffel, who finished radiation treatments a month ago and is now looking forward to recovery. “It’ll be emotional for me. I paid it forward because I believed in it, but I didn’t know I was paying it forward then. I not only view it as a fundraiser and way to celebrate survivors, but now that I’ve been through it, I see it as a way to thank the amazing care team at Shaw.”

Get pink!

On Saturday, Stoffel will be joining a couple thousand other pink-clad skiers and participants as part of the fourth annual Pink Vail. For weeks, supporters — cancer survivors, friends and family who have been touched by cancer — have been raising pledges for their ski days with the goal of reaching the $500,000 mark this year. It’s the loftiest goal yet of the event, which has grown in participation and fundraising annually. All the proceeds will go toward the Shaw Cancer Center’s Spirit of Survivorship program, a holistic care program offered to all of the center’s cancer patients.

New this year, Pink Vail will host live music all day at Eagle’s Nest — and you don’t even have to ski. Non-skiers can enjoy the music at the top of the mountain then take the gondola down in time to watch the 3:30 p.m. Celebration Ski Down to Lionshead, where the day ends with drink and food specials at participating restaurants and bars.

The music begins with bluegrass band Hardscrabble opening their set at 9 a.m. The five-piece group is known for delivering a lively show for audiences of all ages. Next in the lineup is Kevin Heinz, a one-man-band singer and songwriter whose style involves looping vocals, guitars and percussion. Wrapping up the festivities will be Renegade Sons, a rock group who covers bands like Wilco, The Rolling Stones, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, The Beatles and others. The concerts are free to all Pink Vail participants, and foot passes are available to non-skier event registrants.

While the music plays on, participants can ski the Checkpoint Challenge — visit three famous Vail Mountain decks, which will each have its own theme, as well as games, music and prizes.

Participants can still sign up online tonight and on the day-of in person at Eagle’s Nest at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola.

Healing the whole body

The funds raised from Pink Vail — $1 million so far — has allowed the Spirit of Survivorship program to expand. Recognizing that recovering from cancer has aspects other than just eradicating the cancer itself, the program offers personalized exercise programs, nutrition coaching, cooking demos, counseling for patients and their families, yoga, tai chi, massages, acupuncture and even social events such as a survivor hut trip each center.

“It covers the complimentary services that aren’t necessarily covered by insurance but proven to improve the quality of life of patients,” said Emily Tamberino, Vail Valley Medical Center communications manager. “What’s neat is that as Pink Vail has grown, so has the Survivorship program.”

Stoffel said the program helped her continue to exercise and move throughout her treatments, and now that she’s done with radiation, she’s working with the program specialists to help build her fitness. She also said she was greatly helped by the program’s yoga, acupuncture and art class offerings.

“For me, it helped me feel more normal, and not sink under the weight of being diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “The holistic way of treating a patient is not something everyone can afford or have covered by insurance, so it is great that this is offered. For me it has made a big difference in easing my tension.”

Tamberino said that part of the popularity of the event is that the proceeds stay local. Also, people recognize the importance of a local, world-class cancer treatment center.

“For better or for worse, it’s cancer — its’ what is uniting all these people,” she said. “We’ve all been touched in some way, whether it’s experiencing it personally or affecting someone they love. This is a wonderful way to express the journey that we’ve gone through and support others who are going through their journey.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.


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