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Classic case of a courageous kid

Carrie Click

Lance Armstrong isn’t the only cyclist to recover from severe illness and achieve phenomenal success on a bicycle.

Glenwood Springs’ Kelsey Bohman, 13, who’s received extensive treatment for acute myeloid leukemia at Children’s Hospital in Denver, recently completed 100 miles of the Colorado Credit Unions’ Courage Classic. The 155-mile, high-altitude bicycle tour was held July 20-22, 2002.

Riding as the honorary captain for Team Glenwood, a group of 13 riders from the local area, Kelsey led her teammates on the three-day ride, generating cash pledges that benefit Children’s Hospital, the premier pediatric health care facility providing 100 specialized services and serving a 13-state region.

Now in its 13th year, the Courage Classic started this year on July 20 in Leadville and climbed over Tennessee Pass (with an alternate route over Fremont Pass) and wound its way through Minturn and Vail, Copper Mountain, Silverthorne, Dillon, Keystone, Breckenridge, and over Hoosier Pass. The ride finished up on July 22 in Fairplay.

“The increased popularity of the Courage Classic year after year has made this event one of our top money-raising events for Children’s Hospital,” said Leslie McKay, director of special events for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The pledges of the 2,000-plus cyclists assist in the service and care of more than 250,000 children.”

Some of those children are from the local region. Besides Kelsey, two of her classmates at St. Stephen’s School in Glenwood Springs, Catherine Whalen and Kylie Jenkins, have recently received treatment at Children’s Hospital.

Kelsey’s mother, Pat, said over the course of Kelsey’s treatment, they have seen a half dozen Roaring Fork Valley-based families and their children being treated at the medical facility.

The fact that Kelsey was able to complete 100 miles of the ride is a true testament not only to the little girl’s resolve, but to the importance of having such a cutting-edge medical facility in Colorado.

In August 2000, the Glenwood Springs native was diagnosed with leukemia, resulting in numerous chemotherapy treatments and a bone marrow transplant, which she received from her father, John, in February 2001.

During treatment, from August 2000 through May 2001, Kelsey and Pat spent 80 percent of their time at Children’s, often staying at the hospital or at Brent’s Place, a home-away-from-home for bone marrow transplant patients. It was founded by the family of a young boy who lost his battle with the illness.

During these months as an inpatient on the oncology floor at Children’s, Kelsey solidified her strong bond with the hospital and its staff.

“She grew very close to her medical team and considers them as part of her family,” Pat says.

As a result of successful treatment, Kelsey was able to return to school this year. Currently, Kelsey visits Children’s one day a month to receive four-hour infusions. They boost her immune system and counter the effects of the medicines she takes. The treatment also counters any allergic reactions she may have to her father’s transplanted marrow.

With Kelsey’s increasingly good health, Pat challenged her daughter with a tempting bribe: Ride in the Courage Classic for Children’s Hospital and receive a brand new road bike. Kelsey took the challenge, and training for the ride began.

“Because we need to be careful of Kelsey’s lungs, and because it’s been so smoky from the recent wildfires, Kelsey trained indoors a lot,” mom Pat said. “Cindy Rippy let Kels ride her spin bike indoors.”

“We rode up to the Maroon Bells a couple of times, too,” added Kelsey.

That training came into play once it was time to ride in the Courage Classic. Kelsey rode the flat and downhill sections, and climbed over Tennessee Pass as well, leaving other big hill-climbing to other riders.

And Team Glenwood was rewarded for their hard work. Instead of camping out, the team stayed in luxurious accommodations courtesy of Jean Middleton, who with her family founded Copper Mountain ski resort.

As far as fund-raising goes, Team Glenwood was able to generate some impressive dollars for Children’s Hospital, but according to Pat, not enough. The group is still accepting donations.

“I wish we could do so much more,” she said. “So far we have raised around $4,000.”

As far as next year goes, the Bohmans are ready to ride.

“We’re going to do the Courage Classic every year!” smiled Pat, looking over at Kelsey, who smiled back in response.

Those interested in donating funds to Team Glenwood’s fund-raising efforts for Children’s Hospital and the Courage Classic may make donations at Alpine Banks, account number 101029669, or make checks payable to The Children’s Hospital Foundation and send to Pat Bohman, 921 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.

Donations will be accepted through Aug. 25, 2002.

For more information about participating in the 2003 Courage Classic Bike Tour, contact Pat Bohman at 945-6229.


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