Ready, set … Run for Independence on the Fraser River Trail |

Ready, set … Run for Independence on the Fraser River Trail

Jancie Hughes
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Winter Park, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, competitors will leave the starting gate in the annual Run for Independence.

Beginning at Winter Park Resort, competitors will wend their way through the resort’s village, down the beautiful Fraser River Trail, through green forests and open valleys, the Town of Winter Park and across the meadow to the finish line at Grand Park in Fraser. The 5-mile course, mostly flat or downhill, has an elevation loss of 650 feet. Ride, walk, cruise, roll or run – it’s still a family tradition with over 600 participants.

It’s time to register for this great Saturday event. Pick up an entry form at the Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce or register online at, or on race day at Winter Park Resort between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

Every participant will get a race T-shirt, post-race party and a prize entry. The after-party will be at Grand Park in Fraser with lots of refreshments, great awards and prize drawings.

New features include the slightly altered course, a Farmer’s Market, a Beer Garden and a new finish line location. There will also be live music by James and the Devil.

There is free parking at Winter Park Resort for the race start, with a return shuttle bus available at Grand Park beginning at 10 a.m. This year the shuttle will start at 7 a.m. from Fraser to the Winter Park Resort.

Entry fees in advance are $20 for ages 18 and under, $25 for adults and $55 for a family. Add $5 for race day fees. No Barriers and Cruiser Bikes entry fee is $5.

Race benefits

Race proceeds will benefit the Scott Hughes Foundation, which is administered by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Denver, and will be granted to kids with kidney disease and used for camp scholarships at Camp Chief Ouray at Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies and the on site Vacation Kidney Center.

Advocates Safe House has been named as a special recipient of a portion of the proceeds this year, in memory of Marianne Klancke, who could always be spotted along the course as an annual and loyal race volunteer.

Generous donors give prizes for the drawing at the post-race party, in which every race entrant’s number is included. Karen Vance annually donates one of her framed and signed giclees, an especially popular prize. Rocky Mountain Roastery, Christy Sports and the Ski Broker are among the many generous merchants in our community who support this race with prizes.

Over the years gracious sponsors have included Rendezvous, Mountain Timber Furnishings, the Fraser River Valley Lions Club, Amazin’ Mazes, Grand Mountain Bank, Christy Sports, Beaver Village, ReMax, Highland Lumber, Outdoor Divas, the towns of Winter Park and Fraser, Winter Park Resort, Mountain Parks Electric and Touchstone Energy. This year DAPCA, the Colorado lottery, Grand County and Advocates have joined the list.

Long history

Now in its 17th year, this has always been a fun event, supported by local runners and walkers as well as by competitors from as nearby as the Front Range and as far away as Florida. But it hasn’t always had the same name.

In 1994, the first year for a July 4 running event in the Fraser Valley, it was called the Fraser River Trail Five Mile Run. Initiated by the chamber’s Catherine Ross, it celebrated the opening of the brand new Fraser River Trail.

In 1995 it became the Run for Independence and included a 10K event, and in 2002 Rendezvous became the title sponsor of the Rendezvous Run 4 Independence. Grand Park is graciously the title sponsor in 2011 for this traditional 5-mile event.

It was in 1995 that proceeds from the event first funded scholarships for children with kidney disease to attend Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA summer camp and the Vacation Kidney Center of the Rockies. Camp Chief Ouray has incorporated pediatric kidney patients into its program since 1975.

Children ages 8-16 sign up for one week summer sessions and are involved in all camp activities, sharing cabin life, arts and crafts, and camp sports, all near the kidney center where their dialysis treatments are performed and their medical needs met.

Real independence

Thus the word “independence” in the title. We celebrate not only the nation’s independence but also promote independence for children on dialysis or post kidney transplant, granting independence from the confines of kidney disease for them and their families.

Without scholarships this wonderful experience would not be possible for most families whose young children contend with kidney dialysis or the medications following kidney transplant.

The Vacation Kidney Center, on the grounds of the YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch, is a unique high-altitude dialysis facility. The Scott Hughes Endowment Fund, recipient of the proceeds from the Run for Independence, is administered by the Children’s Hospital Foundation and benefits the Denver Children’s Hospital Kidney Center.

The Scott Hughes Endowment Fund was founded by locals Kent and Jancie Hughes, whose son Scott succumbed to kidney disease at the age of 24 in 1994. Never allowing himself to be defined by the chronic illness he contracted at age 14, Scott skied for his high school, graduated from college, and came to Colorado and the Fraser Valley because of the Vacation Kidney Center where he received dialysis.

He believed that children who attended camp could prove to themselves that they can accomplish all that the children without kidney disease can do. And so the Run for Independence supports that opportunity for young children.

Who can pass up a chance to spend part of the long Fourth of July week-end in this beautiful valley while helping children? And the cause should touch the hearts of all.

Children who must spend hours in the company of their dialysis machines are granted scholarships to a camp where they can join kids without medical problems in all the camp activities, yet slip away to the Vacation Kidney Center for their medical needs – a newfound and special independence which allows them not to be defined by their kidneys.

Have fun competing in the Grand Park Run for Independence, knowing that your entry fee will be giving independence to children who appreciate your help.

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