My mother passed away at an early age, 64 years old, just two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. That was the most painful and difficult loss I have had to endure. My heart actually hurt. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine a greater loss than losing a child, let alone at a young age to cancer. Of all the nonprofits in existence, what could be better than a cause that is here to improve the lives of children fighting cancer and their families?
Maybe you’ve heard of the Shining Stars Foundation. They provide emotional support to children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses through adventure and recreational programs. Originally focused on providing an adaptive ski experience, the Shining Stars Foundation has grown to provide five key programs and over 60 events each year. At first serving only a handful of children from Colorado, the Shining Stars Foundation has now reached thousands of individuals through their children, family, and awareness programs. Personally, I’d like to say “kudos” to the small but mighty, local staff and volunteers who help put smiles on kids’ faces.
Besides helping the Shining Stars Foundation with a donation (which of course they would greatly appreciate), how else can you help? Here’s a great idea… join them on Saturday, August 5 in Winter Park, Colorado, for their annual, mountain-fun races. Their half marathon and 5K are perfect for athletes of all levels, plus the shorter race is ideal for kid racers and is dog-friendly too. As a volunteer last year, I had a blast-and-a-half watching the girls like these two cheering on their mom at the finish line, homemade signs and all.
Half Marathon Course
The course takes place almost entirely on remote dirt roads, winding throughout Winter Park. It is a single loop course beginning at approximately 8,700 ft. and traveling above 9,500 ft. Climbs and descents are fairly mellow for a mountain race, but we promise it will be challenging. 4 aid stations will be on course complete with water, sports drink, and fruit. The race is chip timed and has an 8 am start.
The course will take place on Grand Park’s trail system, located in the meadow just north of the town of Winter Park. An aid station will be available at the finish line to replenish the racers. The race is also chip timed and has a 9 am start.
“The race is one of our largest fundraisers each year, and we’re anticipating over 300 racers, spectators, and volunteers at this year’s event,” says Ryndi Zastrow, the program-event coordinator for Shining Stars. “An added bonus to this year’s event is discounted Winter Park Beer Festival Tickets. All racers receive 15% off tickets to Beer Fest, which begins at 12 pm (right after the race). So racers can run for a great cause in the morning and then reward themselves with craft beer all afternoon.”
Are you getting excited about participating in one of the races? Not only will you get some great exercise and fresh, mountain air, 100% of the proceeds benefit the Shining Stars Foundation. Every registration helps provide life-changing programs to children and families in need. Ryndi shared “After attending one of our programs, Evan, one of our Shining Stars, said to us, ‘My life has been changed. I have hope and that makes a huge difference in how I feel when I wake up each morning. Now I want to live all day, every day.’ ” Bringing hope to kids like Evan. Now, what could be better than that?
Runners can view race course maps, 2016 event photos, and register by visiting Shining Stars’ event page. Not a runner? Shining Stars is still looking for volunteers and sponsorships! Sponsor levels start at $100. Contact Ryndi at 970.726.8009 or Ryndi@ShiningStarsFoundation.
We hope to see you at the races on August 5!