For our children’s Children’s: Locals tackle the Courage Classic
Pat and John Bohman would do just about anything, even ride their bicycles for 155 miles over grueling mountain highways, to raise money for Children’s Hospital.
So will several other people, including Charlie Willman and Ed Murray, of Glenwood Springs, Jean Simonson, of Rifle, former Valley View Hospital nurse Katie Connifey, and others.
Because of Children’s, you see, the Bohmans’ daughter, Kelsey, grows a little older every day.
“How do you repay someone who saved your child’s life?” Pat Bohman asked rhetorically.
Kelsey Bohman, 13, was diagnosed in August of 2000 with acute myeloid leukemia. In February of 2001 she received a life-saving bone-marrow transplant at Children’s. Her father was the donor.
For the better part of a year, Kelsey lived at Children’s while she received treatments, care and support from the hospital’s staff.
“They cared for her in a loving, professional, spiritual way,” said Pat. “They’ve become a part of our family.”
The Bohmans, along with friends, co-workers and a nurse from Children’s and her husband, now collectively known as “Team Glenwood,” will ride an average of more than 50 miles a day, for three days, in the 13th annual Courage Classic. The Bohmans are seeking other team members (rider skills should be intermediate to expert) and are also seeking pledges.
Kelsey has been designated as honorary team captain. Suzy Reichert, one of Kelsey’s oncology nurses from Children’s, will also ride with the team, along with her husband, John.
Kelsey’s 15-year-old sister Kristin would ride with the team, too, but she is spending her summer playing piano on a scholarship with the Aspen Music Festival and School.
More than 2,000 riders are expected to participate in this benefit for Children’s, which will be held July 20-22. During the event, riders will summit four major passes in Leadville, Eagle and Summit counties.
Normally, said Pat, she doesn’t give to charities and organizations unless she knows just what the money is used for. After almost two years of treatments, “We know what Children’s will use it for,” she said.
The team isn’t riding with just Kelsey in mind. There are many, many families in the area that have benefited from the care Children’s provides, said Pat, sharing photos of other young past and present patients.
Teenager Kalee Fisher, the daughter of Tony and DeeDee Fisher, of Glenwood Springs, received care from Children’s as an infant. “She is now an active and healthy teenager,” wrote the Fishers in a letter to the Bohmans.
Kyle Millyard, son of Robin and Linda Millyard, of Glenwood Springs, also received life-saving care at Children’s, both as an infant and as a teenager. He continues to receive follow-up care there.
Twins Madeleine and Lucy Oakes, daughters of Rick and Judy Oakes, of Glenwood Springs, were born 11 and a half weeks premature and have had several, often lengthy stays at Children’s. One year, during one of those long stays, wrote the Oakes family, the twins woke up on Easter morning to bassinets full of stuffed bunnies, rattles and bibs, and “hand-knit little soft booties.” They were too young to remember, wrote the parents, but their mother was especially touched by the extra kindness shown by the nursing staff.
Ryan Blake, now 13, received two liver transplants at Children’s in 1989 and is an active and healthy teenager now.
“There are so many valley kids that have been to Children’s that people don’t know about,” Pat said. Now that she understands first-hand how important their work is to so many people, “I will keep doing anything I can to get their name out there and get them some money,” she said.
Her personal goal is to raise $50,000 in pledges. Already, she said, the community has been tremendous.
She’s received support from St. Stephen’s School, where Kelsey is a student, from St. Stephen’s Church, and from friends and family, to help from businesses like the Print Works, which printed posters for the bike ride.
“The support has been tremendous,” she said. “Our valley is wonderful.”
Kelsey continues to receive treatments on a monthly basis, which, if all goes well, will only last about six more months, said Bohman.
“We met beautiful people and we had beautiful experiences” at Children’s, said Pat. “They truly enriched our lives.”
But, she said of Kelsey’s treatment program, “We don’t want to do it again.”
Anyone who would like to make a pledge to the team can do so by making a deposit at any Alpine Bank, to account No. 1010296619. Checks can be made out to “Children’s Hospital.”
Donations can also be delivered during business hours to the office of Charlie Willman, 811 Blake Ave., in Glenwood Springs. To become a team member, call Pat Bohman at 945-6229.
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