Vail Valley comes together for Andrew |

Vail Valley comes together for Andrew

Lauren Glendenning
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyAndrew Claymon is an athletic teen who was diagnosed with cancer in December. His family's friends are hosting a fundraiser Thursday to help cover the family's medical expenses.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Andrew Claymon was living the life of a typical Vail Valley teenager last year ” playing sports, hanging out with friends and logging hours behind the wheel with his new learner’s driving permit.

His life changed when doctors told him he had cancer on New Year’s Eve.

“Life is completely unpredictable all of a sudden,” said Joni Claymon, Andrew’s mother.

Andrew, 15, was going to school at the Eagle County Charter Academy. He’s at the age where school isn’t always at the top of the list of fun things to do, but Joni Claymon said Andrew really misses it now.

“He just wants things to be back to normal,” she said.

Doctors haven’t been able to diagnose Andrew’s form of cancer, she said. They’re calling it a metastatic chordoma, a rare type of bone tumor that has spread. He began a 54-week chemotherapy program in January ” the treatments have left him weak and nauseous, Joni Claymon said.

The Claymons have health insurance that, after a hefty deductible, is covering most of Andrew’s medical bills ” but the family is taking a hit elsewhere. Mike Claymon, Andrew’s father, said he and his wife have to take a lot of time off work to be with Andrew ” they spend a lot of time commuting between their Edwards home and the Children’s Hospital in Denver. There’s also unanticipated hospital stays now, like last week when Andrew was supposed to be home but ended up in the intensive care unit for nearly a week because he had a fever.

The Claymons’ friends have come together to figure out how they can help. A group has been meeting every month to organize a fundraiser event for the family, which kicks off Thursday at the Donovan Pavilion in Vail.

“We know the cost of this has got to be financially catastrophic,” said Alan Lewis, a family friend who came up with the idea of hosting the event. “We thought if we could help in some small way then we would be serving our purpose.”

The Claymons have been so busy they don’t even know who all has been meeting every month to help them, but they couldn’t be more appreciative of the support, Mike Claymon said.

“The support of our friends and the entire community has been overwhelming,” he said. “It makes me speechless to think about the generosity we’ve received from many, many people.”

Lewis said the group of organizers knew they could get a big response from this community, and they were right ” local businesses have donated tons of items for the silent auction part of the fundraiser, he said. From food to music to golf equipment and rare wines, people are showing support for the Claymons in a big way, he said.

The support means everything to Mike and Joni Claymon, who are running around trying to get their work done, take care of their 14-year-old son Brian and Andrew at the same time.

Joni Claymon, a tax accountant, has been so busy that she hasn’t done a single tax return this year.

“It completely changes everything,” she said. “Your normal becomes a different kind of normal; it’s not the same normal that you’re used to.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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