March 9th the Vail Valley-based Shaw Regional Cancer Center hosts their annual fundraiser, Pink Vail! Guest blogger Emily Tamberino of the Vail Valley Medical Center gives us an inside look at the event.
As a crew of volunteers began setting up in a giant hot pink tent at the base of Vail Mountain last year, a woman approached me to ask what the buzz was all about. I told her about Pink Vail, the “world’s biggest ski day” to benefit patients and survivors at our local cancer center, and her eyes began welling up. She explained to me that she had lost her dear friend to breast cancer just the day before. To her, that big pink tent signified more than a space for registering ski day participants—she was sure it was a sign for her to honor her friend by getting involved. This stranger and I hugged through tears of a common experience, one most of us have been touched by in some way.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,660,290 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2013. The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2002 and 2008 is 68%. Pink Vail celebrates the 68%ers and honors those who unfortunately lost their fight against cancer. It is a day for everyone to unite in the fight against the disease, show their pride and support by wearing the craziest of pink costumes, HAVE FUN, and raise vital funds for survivorship programs at Shaw Regional Cancer Center-a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Proceeds benefit the cancer center’s free fitness classes, nutrition coaching, emotional support, and outdoor experiences for cancer patients and survivors. As one survivor puts it, “Pink Vail isn’t a day to feel good about cancer, but it’s a day to feel good about what we can do to help those with cancer.
Prior to the big event on March 9th, individuals and teams fundraise on www.pinkvail.com. They reach out to friends and family to ask for donations to support the cause. In its first year, Pink Vail raised $200,000, exceeding its goal and setting the stage to raise $250,000 (or more!) in 2013. Teams are already forming this year, and one Pink Vail participant, a cancer survivor and former Shaw patient, has already raised $10,000!
On March 9th, thanks to the tremendous support of Vail and our other generous partners, an expected 1,500 participants will take to a “pinkified” Vail Mountain for a day of on- and off-mountain activities. The optional Checkpoint Challenge and Pink Vail Poker are for those competitive folks who want to win cool prizes: participants will hunt down Vail’s five famous decks to be entered into drawings for Epic passes, Zeal Optics goggles, GoPro cameras and more. Pink Vail Poker players will grab a card at each deck and return to Pink Vail Base Camp to play their hand for additional prizes. At the end of the day, cancer survivors, family, friends, and those skiing in honor of a loved one will decorate bibs with the names of those they are celebrating and will descend Vail Mountain together in the Celebration Ski Down to Lionshead, where they’ll be greeted by spectators and toasted with Crazy Mountain Brewery’s special Pink Vail Fruit Ale. The day will conclude with awards and music by Charlie Mars.
As we prepare for the world’s biggest ski day to conquer cancer, I am struck by how small the world of cancer patients, family, friends, caregivers and loved ones really is. Above all, Pink Vail is a day of fun. But, for people like the woman I met last year, it’s about much more. Those participating in the Celebration Ski Down wear names on their bibs and carry the spirit of those names in their hearts. For cancer survivors, Pink Vail is a day of triumph. Not only have they beaten the disease, but they are skiing, snowboarding and enjoying life in the mountains, surrounded by their family and friends. The spirit of Pink Vail is palpable. Share it with us by registering at www.pinkvail.com today!