Hundreds race to raise money for locals with cancer
A warm fall day showcasing the peaking Aspen colors drew a crowd of hundreds of runners and walkers of all ages to Taking Steps for Cancer’s annual fundraiser 5K race along Grand Lake on Sunday.
Ahead of the 16th annual race, Taking Steps for Cancer event organizer and volunteer Judy Eberly said over 250 people had registered for the 5K. However, closer to 400 people gathered outside the Daven Haven Lodge before the race and Eberly said seeing the vast group of participants was heartening.
“We wondered, because the event had to be virtual last year, how it would do this year, but everybody evidently wanted it as bad as we did,” she said. “This event is about people, so you need everyone together.”
Each year, the all-volunteer organization aims to raise $100,000 from the fall event. All of the money raised goes to Grand County residents who have been diagnosed with cancer through the Taking Steps for Cancer Fund and Mountain Family Center.
Residents diagnosed with cancer can apply to receive up to $2,500 per year to reimburse costs of deductibles, some pharmaceuticals, transportation, lodging, meals and more. On average, Taking Steps for Cancer helps 40 people each year, Eberly said.
“We pay for lodging and gasoline and meals to go get treatment because there is no in-county treatment,” she said.
As of Sunday, Eberly didn’t yet have an estimate for how much the event raised, though she was optimistic that the group easily met the $100,000 goal.
“I think we’ve done well this year and we’re going to be over it,” Eberly said.
In addition to the 5K race, Sunday’s event featured lunch for racers, a silent and live auction, a wine pull and a quilt raffle, with all proceeds going to the cancer fund. Awards were also given to the top three male and female racers in each age group, as well as to teams.
For the second year in a row, excluding 2020’s virtual 5K, Middle Park Health won the honor of biggest team with over 35 people participating and Accord Asphalt’s team raised the most money.
Both Eberly and Mountain Family Center Executive Director Helen Sedlar emphasized the success of the fundraiser is thanks to the 80 volunteers who dedicated their time organizing the event.
“Our Taking Steps for Cancer volunteers are an army,” Sedlar said.
Beyond raising money, Eberly noted the event is one of the best ways for getting the word out about the cancer fund’s availability to locals.
“We try to make applying simple … but probably one of the more difficult pieces is getting everybody to know the help is there,” she said.
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