Campbell Sullivan, a U19 alpine ski racer at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV), just wants to race and wants to help other racers get back on snow.
The 18-year-old, who is currently in her third round of treatments for Stage IV CIC-DUX4, a rare form of cancer, has launched the SkiFastFoundation.com to help other youth who have been diagnosed with sarcoma-type cancer return to their extracurricular passions in sports, the arts, music, and science, both during and post-treatment.
“I wanted to do it like this because being able to ski while going through treatment was essential to my happiness and health,” Sullivan says. “Without skiing and without my team, I would’ve been stuck at home with no one. Having an outlet during and after treatment is something that saved me and I want to be able to do the same for other kids with cancer.”
It started with Lindsey
Campbell drew inspiration from The Lindsey Vonn Foundation when she was awarded a scholarship in 2019, which paid the annual program fees at SSCV.
“It was a dream come true and so unexpected. They gave me the opportunity to get back on the hill with my coaches and teammates and accomplish my dream of racing again,” Sullivan recalls.
“My team threw the best celebration in the finish (after her first race back) and we celebrated all day. I was able to race a good amount this year — and even got to travel as an athlete again. My favorite trip I got to go on was our summer camp in New Zealand.”
“Campbell’s commitment and passion for the sport throughout her multiple fights with cancer has been nothing short of inspiring both to her teammates and the coaches that have been lucky enough to interact with her. Whether on her worst or best day, she will fight to be on the hill,” says her coach, Ian Hanbury.
“When her health doesn’t allow her to train she’s up on the hill anyway taking on the role of ‘Coach Campbell.’ This girl refuses to take a day off and all she ever wants to do is be with her team and around the sport she loves,” Hanbury said. “She refuses to let her illness dictate who she is. Ski racing is part of her identity and she will fight tooth and nail to continue to be a positive piece of this community. She is a unifying force in a sport that becomes more about the “me” than the “we” on a daily basis.”
Her mother, Gibby Sullivan, says Campbell puts herself out there all the time and not just as a pediatric cancer advocate, but as a teammate and a friend.
“She will drag herself up the hill to help the coaches with video, pull courses and cheer on her teammates,” said Gibby Sullivan. “There is nothing that will motivate that kid faster than simply being able to contribute to her team.
Sullivan credits her community for helping her get through the difficult treatment process, including a stem cell transplant, which took place during her second semester of her senior year.
“There is no way I could’ve made it through treatment without my teammates and coaches from both the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and SSCV. … My teachers made all my work available online and easy to access and I was able to fulfill all my graduation requirements from afar. My friends sent me constant gifts and letters through the online letter network at Children’s (Hospital in Denver). They took time to FaceTime me while I was an inpatient for a month — whether they were on the east coast racing or doing mass amounts of ski work from home,” Sullivan said.
At times during her treatment, Sullivan hasn’t been well enough to race, so the team adopted her as a coach. She’s provided all the necessary tools — a radio, drill and coaches’ jacket — and being up on the hill involved with the team has been a force for good, she says, helping her in her fight.
“I’ve learned so many things from being a coach — from setting a course to managing athletes, planning trips, and of course all the technical and tactical skills. My coaches took it upon themselves to teach me all they could about coaching. I love it – it’s something that gets me on the hill every day, and I get to learn all about being a coach,” Sullivan said.
A ski racer’s advantage
“That mental fitness, team mentality and goal setting that was the foundation for who she was before cancer, gave her a huge advantage in the fight against cancer,” Gibby Sullivan explains. “Cancer did not make her motivated or inspirational, it was that she kept up what she had been practicing for years as an athlete during treatment that is amazing.
“That is why the Ski Fast Foundation is so important and so close to home for Campbell,” her mother added. “As an athlete, she knew what it was like to be achy, tired, frustrated, not winning yet still striving to achieve her goals on the hill before cancer ever existed for her.”
As for the future, Campbell’s parents support her taking an extra year to ski and postpone college.
“They understand that I missed so much and would love for me to race a full season without dealing with cancer. If I were to take another year off I would stay in Vail with SSCV and their Women’s FIS program. But I also would love to go to college and start my education again. If I go to CU I would love to join their club team.”
Those 18 and under with a sarcoma-type cancer are encouraged to apply now for the first round of scholarships. The application process will be open through June 1 and multiple scholarships, ranging from $500 to $2000 will be awarded on June 15.
For more information on the Ski Fast Foundation or to make a donation or apply for a scholarship, please visit www.SkiFastFoundation.com.