Shining Stars return in February for Winter Games event and help from the Elks
After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Shining Stars plan to return to the Aspen-Snowmass area this February to host the 21st annual Winter Games for children with cancer.
Approximately 50 pediatric cancer patients from around the country, along with teams of doctors, nurses and volunteers will be in Aspen from Feb. 24 to March 3 to participate in snow sports, games, parties and cookouts with their peers.
“The goal of our programs is to show these children what they are capable of accomplishing,” aid Kathy Gingery, CEO and founder of the Shining Stars Foundation. “They make lifelong friends with other kids who know what they are going through. And, best of all, they have a great time on the mountain — not as cancer patients, but as normal, carefree kids.”
Preparations for the Winter Games began in early October when volunteers from the Aspen Elks traveled to Glenwood Springs with Shining Stars Director of Operations Rosemary White to check on the inventory of gear and equipment that has been in storage for the past two years.
“Everything in storage was covered in dirt and dust,” she said. “But, with the help of Aspen Elks volunteers Al Arnal and Bill Von Stocken; Shining Stars Foundation board members Tim Cottrell, John LaSalle, Kevin Moore, and Mike Engelbert; and several longtime local volunteers, each and every bean bag, sit-ski, medical kit and pool toy was scrubbed and sanitized. Then, they helped us get the storage unit all organized, so that we will be ready to go in just a few months.”
She said this special help, along with the financial support that the Aspen Elks provides with proceeds from their annual Shining Stars golf tournament, has jump-started efforts and gotten the ball rolling for the upcoming Winter Games.
Van Stocken said that the Shining Stars is one of the Elks’ favorite causes. The Aspen Lodge has been involved with helping the organization since it started coming to the area, he noted, and many members get involved with volunteering at the Winter Games.
“In past years, we’ve hosted a disco party at the lodge for the kids, which they absolutely love,” he said. In addition, the Elks put on a barbecue at the base of Buttermilk for participants on the final race day and provide volunteers for the games.
Children who participate in the Shining Stars year-round programs are typically from low-income families and/or single-parent households. Doctors often refer children who have given up the will to live in the midst of rigorous cancer treatments or who have developed a physical disability as a result of their disease, such as muscle weakness, paralysis or amputation.
Thanks to the support of a 24/7 medical team and adaptive ski and snowboard instructors, the foundation is able to serve critically ill children.
The Shining Stars is a nonprofit that relies on donations to carry out their programs. Donors can “Adopt a Star” to help underwrite the cost of a child’s travel to and participation in the Shining Stars Aspen Winter Games. To donate, call 970-925-STAR, or visit: http://www.ShiningStarsFoundation.org.
While new restaurants enter the Aspen scene, there are several spaces that will remain empty this winter. Meanwhile, the retail market remains extremely hot.