Pink Vail Biggest Ski Day to Conquer Cancer, Support Shaw Center
It was tough to be a person who hates pink this past weekend in Vail, because the town — still whooping it up for its 50th anniversary — was pretty much that hue from one end to the other in the form of flamingos, boas, tutus and other very pink items (a pink gorilla suit!), all displayed by the more than 1,300 participants in the second annual Pink Vail fundraiser for the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards.
A service of Vail Valley Medical Center, Shaw does everything from diagnostics to the whole range of treatment options, and also offers Jack’s Place, a nonprofit, no-charge lodging next door for patients and their families to stay during treatment.
Jack’s Place is named after Vail resident, retired doctor and longtime ski patroller Jack Eck, 70, who made the cancer center happen 12 years ago (he’s humble, but it’s true, and he has quite a story – he basically convinced the Shaw family to donate $17 million to build the center, but his life story is quite a tale, as well, and seems to be a continual series of people wanting to help him make things happen).
To say that Eck is beloved in the community – well, to see how beloved, all it takes is to try to sit down with him for coffee at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola and count how many times you’re interrupted by someone who wants to hug him (seven) followed by watching who recognizes him as you’re skiing along on a packed powder day (everyone).
Pink Vail’s goal was $250,000, and the day brought in more than $350,000, which is a good thing, because Doc Eck’s baby needs a new linear accelerator.
“It shows the warm and fuzzy side of Vail,” says Cheryl Lindstrom, the grants and research manager for the center, who was skiing with Eck much of the day. “People think we’re just this ski town, that there’s not this community here, but then you see something like Shaw and Jack’s Place, and you see this tremendous outpouring. It’s really amazing.”
I’m just going to say it – pink makes me reach for the Pepto-Bismol. But it was hard not to get caught up in the joie de vivre, especially during the Celebration Ski Down, where everyone gathered at the top of Eagle Bahn and skied or boarded down Simba to show support for survivors and friends and family currently battling the disease, the names all written on banners and bibs. It helped that it was a fabulous day on the slopes, with 4-5 inches of new snow and warm enough temps that you could be out all day playing in it.
By the way, I rocked a tutu from Basalt-based Tough Girl Tutus, which makes really comfortable racing tutus (who ever thought that would be a thing?) that have race bib toggles built in. There are only three colors right now – leopard print, red and black, and pink and black – but I’m betting these are going to catch on for a while and there will be more.
In the meantime, this was quite a party (if you want to see more photos, check out the Facebook page) — with live music and free beer at the end — and No. 3 is already being planned.
Kyle Wagner is the editor of the Travel and OutWest sections at The Denver Post.