Rally the Valley goes to the river | PostIndependent.com

Rally the Valley goes to the river

Rally the Valley participants cross the finish line in 2017.
file / Post Independent |

Bruce Anderson of Snowmass has been cancer-free since 2017, but this is the first time he will make it to Rally the Valley, the big fundraiser for the Calaway Young Cancer Center.

“In 2017, I was coming off the fourth round of chemo, and not in a good place. It rained (the day of the rally), and I didn’t go,” Anderson said. The following year he had to travel for a checkup at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and couldn’t make the event.

This year, he can hardly wait to join Rally the Valley Saturday at Two Rivers Park.

Rally the Valley begins with a rafter check-in at 8:30 a.m. The commercial raft shuttle departs at 9:30 a.m. from Two Rivers Park and shuttles for those bringing their own raft or float will be available from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Walker registration begins at 10 a.m.; the walk itself begins at 11 a.m.

Festivities in the park will go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Rally the Valley has been a Glenwood Springs tradition for years, but this time the event will have a special river-themed twist.

Instead of holding the rally at Sayre Park, the Valley View Hospital Foundation decided to host the fundraiser for the Calaway Young Cancer Center at Two Rivers Park, and organize a giant float down the Colorado River, from Grizzly Creek into Glenwood Springs.

Stacey Gavrell, executive director of the foundation, credits board trustee Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Company, with the rafting idea.

“It was Ken Murphy who said, ‘I think we can do something really exciting by bringing in our rafting community to this event,’” Gavrell said.

Murphy owns Glenwood Adventure Company and offered his services, and before long, Defiance Rafting, Blazing Adventures and Blue Sky Adventures joined the cause.

The Calaway Young Center provides more than just cancer treatment.

Gavrell likes to think of it as providing holistic care through the duration of a person’s battle with cancer, and Anderson agrees.

Anderson spent most of 2016 visiting the Calaway Young center’s oncologists seeking a diagnosis. When they couldn’t find the origin of his cancer, they sent him to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where they finally found the cause.

Basically, his thymus, a gland that is normally active before puberty and shrinks later in life, “went on a rampage,” Anderson said. The cancer caused several other respiratory and cardiac conditions that defied diagnosis.

After several rounds of treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Anderson wanted to return home to Snowmass and arranged to finish treatment with Valley View.

The treatment itself was excellent, Anderson said, and the cancer center is “becoming known as one of the key cancer centers in the country.”

But Anderson also appreciated the other care that helped him cope with the physically and emotionally demanding treatment.

Through the cancer center’s Integrated Therapies department, Anderson received messages, acupuncture and a host of other services meant to help patients’ wellbeing through the cancer treatment.

“There are low moments when you’re fighting for your life,” Anderson said. “It’s not fun physically, and therefore not fun mentally, or for the people around you. One of the things (Integrated Therapies) are really good at is changing the way you look at that.”

Float for hope

For cancer patients, Integrated Therapies is free of charge thanks to Rally the Valley and other donations.

Tickets to enter the rally and walk the four-mile parade around Two Rivers Park are available at the gate. Registration for seats with the commercial rafting companies is closed, but people are welcome to bring their own rafts and stand-up paddleboards to join the flotilla.

Organizers believe the float is the only one of its kind in Colorado, and hope it is successful enough to continue in years to come.

“We really want this to be a crowning event for Glenwood Springs,” Gavrell said. “We have this incredible river that comes through, we have an awesome commercial rafting community that’s partnering with us, and a world-class cancer center.”



What: Rally the Valley

When: 8:30 a.m. is rafter check-in, followed by a shuttle for those using commercial rafts at 9:30 a.m. Shuttles for those bringing their own raft or float go from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Walker registration begins at 10 a.m., followed by the walk at 11 a.m.

Festivities in the park go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Two Rivers Park, 740 Devereux Road.

How much: costs range from free for survivors up to $50. Go to vvh.org/rallythevalley for more information.

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