Rally the Valley soaks up support for integrative cancer therapy services

Rally the Valley walkers dressed in bright colors and tie dye, holding colorful kites make their way around Two Rivers Park during Saturday's annual event.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Karen Zimmerman, a radiation therapist at Valley View Hospital’s Calaway Young Cancer Center, is used to the damp that often accompanies the yearly Rally the Valley fundraiser.

This year, it was a good thing.

Along with clear blue skies and warm temperatures, the 8th annual Rally the Valley Saturday included the first-ever “Float for Hope” raft excursion down the Colorado River to the new venue at Two Rivers Park.

“It’s still wet. It’s just not cold,” Zimmerman said, as she and her daughter, Cheyenne, and mother, Carolynne Jones, soaked in the sun and warmth after taking out at the Two Rivers boat ramp along with more than three dozen other raft loads of participants.

“I think it’s great. It definitely brings in a lot more people,” Zimmerman said of the addition of the float along with the traditional Peyton’s Parade Walk that made a couple of laps around Two Rivers Park as part of the day’s festivities.

The walk is named after Peyton Armstrong, who battled childhood leukemia and is now a young adult survivor.

It was Jones’ first time rafting. “I love it. It’s just been awesome,” she said

“This is a good addition, and it’s a great turnout. It seemed like everybody on the river really liked it,” Jones said.

Rally the Valley walkers cheer on participating rafters as they make their way to Two Rivers Park during Saturday’s annual event. This was the first year particpants could pick between a walk or a float down the river.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Rally the Valley raises money for the integrated therapy services — massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga classes, etc. — that are offered at no additional cost for cancer patients and their caregivers at the Calaway Young Center.

Between 600-700 people took part Saturday in the event, which typically raises roughly $100,000 toward the $300,000 annual fundraising goal to provide the services, said Stacey Gavrell, executive director for the Valley View Hospital Foundation.

Those services were a crucial part of the cancer journey for people like Timm Fautsko of Glenwood Springs and Janet Buck of Carbondale.

“With the pain I was going through and the radiation, it was nice to go in and get a massage or acupuncture on a regular basis,” said Fautsko, who was diagnosed in January 2018 with stage 4 prostate cancer.

“It really helped to lift my spirits and ease the pain,” he said. It also gave Fautsko the strength to in turn help mentor other men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Buck, who just recently lost her husband, Bob, to cancer, said the support services at the cancer center were invaluable. Not only did Bob use the services, as his primary caregiver, so did she.

“It was very comforting, just to have that extra support,” Buck said. “It’s an important part of the Calaway Center, and it’s why I’m here today to support them.”


Shelby Keys has worked at Valley View for about 11 years, and is now the scheduler for the integrative therapy services. She said patients and their families often don’t believe it when they’re informed that the services are offered in conjunction with the cancer treatments.

“They think that we’re making it up, especially when they find out it’s not only available to them [the patient], but to their spouses and family … whoever is with them on this journey.

“Going that extra mile is what really sets us apart from other cancer centers, and this event is why we get to do it,” Keys said.

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