On Sunday, September 25, nearly 275 participants gathered at a starting line under golden aspens and blue skies at Grand Lake. They ranged from young to old and included couples with dogs, children on bikes and athletes stretching their muscles in hopes of running the best time. Amid the differences, they all had one thing in common: their lives had been touched by cancer. Some were survivors, some had family or friends who had survived, and others honored a loved one who died of cancer.
The 10th Annual 5,000 Cancer Walk Run/Walk & Auction kicked off at Daven Haven Lodge. The Take Action for Cancer team, led by Judy Eberly, organized the event. The Mountain Family Center in Granby and an army of volunteers ensured that everything went well. All money raised was donated to the Taking Steps Fund, which eases the financial burden of Grand County residents with cancer. Mountain Family Center manages the fund.
Helen Sedlar, executive director of the Mountain Family Center, said Taking Steps has raised $700,000 through their 5K since inception, partnering with Mountain Family to ensure the money stays in Grand County. Taking Steps holds four annual fundraisers; the 5K is their oldest and biggest event of the year.
“It’s important to know that with the funds raised, every Grand County resident is eligible for $5,000,” Sedlar said.
The funds help patients offset treatment costs such as insurance deductibles, copayments, transportation, lodging, meals, and other travel expenses. The cancer fund has helped 28 people so far this year.
Before the 5K participants departed, Cheryl Manguso told the crowd how she beat cancer and how Taking Steps funded her transportation costs.
“It’s only been about nine months, so it’s still fresh in my mind, the experience that cancer patients go through,” she said. “I was able to stay in Denver for 30 days while I did my radiation therapy instead of having to drive back and forth every day. That made all the difference.
After Manguso spoke to the crowd, an announcer gave the signal and the attendees left. Some ran, others strolled the quaint streets of Grand Lake.
An awards ceremony for individuals and groups followed. The top runners received medals, while Middle Park Health won a prize for the biggest group and a local social group, the Grand Lake Gentlemen’s Club, was honored for being the team that raised the most money. .
More money poured in through live and silent auctions, with original artwork, sports equipment and snowmobile packages included in the bids. Live auction items included Avalanche autographed Stanley Cup memorabilia, a hot air balloon ride and a guided fly-fishing excursion.
Grand Lake musicians Jim McComb and Peggy Mann entertained the crowd, with McComb playing covers and Mann sharing her signature song, “Ribbons of Hope,” which she wrote with local musician Steve Cormey after Cormey made Grand Lake. Lake’s Walk for the Cure in 2008. He died of cancer in 2011.
“For all of you who are fighting this battle right now, you are so brave,” Mann said. “We have you all in our thoughts today. I don’t think there is a single person here who hasn’t been touched by cancer.
Survivors, their friends and families stood in the autumn breeze, listening to Cormey’s words as Mann strummed his guitar.
“They give us the courage to endure conflict, ribbons of rose, ribbons of life,” Mann sang. “Walk with me my sister, show me the way. Walk with me my brother, it’s a beautiful day. And we will all run together, hand in hand, we will be one. Brothers and sisters, the race has begun.
To learn more about the Take Action for Cancer Fund and qualifications for getting help, contact Katie Stuvel at 970-557-3186 or [email protected].
Those interested in volunteering can contact Judy Eberly at [email protected].