GRAND LAKE —Team Grand County looks to support all local cancer patients, regardless of income, insurance coverage or cancer type.
The organization first formed in 2005, as “The Ladies of the Lake” and later “Team Grand Lake,” to create a local cancer charity walk and race. Partnering with the Susan G. Komen Denver Race for the Cure, the event benefited breast cancer patients and honored local cancer survivors. The event peaked in 2011, when participants raised $34,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. That year, the team changed its name to “Team Grand County” to reflect is dedication to the entire area.
The team received a blow, however, when a local uninsured breast cancer patient applied to Komen Denver for assistance in 2012.
“We were shocked to learn they did not fund Grand County,” said Gladys Howard of Team Grand County.
Despite their considerable donation to the breast cancer charity, Grand County lies outside of Komen’s coverage area. No assistance was available for area residents. Now, Team Grand County is partnering with Grand County Rural Health Network to keep its donations — and their benefits — in the local community. Cancer treatment can be especially burdensome for residents of rural areas, where chemotherapy and other treatments are not locally available.
“We help navigate them to Denver if they need someone to drive, or provide gas money, food while they’re there, and lodging,” Howard said. “When they get their hospital bill, Grand County Rural Health will help them find places to help pay bills as well.”
And unlike Komen’s funds, which benefit breast cancer and mostly the uninsured, assistance is available to all county cancer patients, regardless of current insurance coverage, income or type of cancer.
The 2013 benefit is Team Grand County’s second year working with Grand County Rural Health to keep funds local. Participants still have the option to register with the Denver Komen Race for the Cure, but most opt to register under the local event, “Taking Steps to End All Cancer Race/Walk.” The events will be held together, starting and finishing at Pancho & Lefty’s in Grand Lake. Online registration is open until the day of the race, and last-minute participants can sign up the day of the event.
This year, participants registered under the local event will also receive T-shirts for participating. Howard is proud of the design, which features colorful ribbons representing all forms of cancer.
Even with the changes, Howard said she’s seen a huge outpouring of support from the community.
“This is blooming,” she said. “Everybody, including business people, is just so generous and behind this cause.”