Photos courtesy of Nick Junker / Capture the Action
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) athlete and coach Campbell Sullivan led more than 200 people through Vail, Colo., Saturday to march in the town’s CureFest 2020. The mission, according to the official CureFest website is “to make childhood cancer research a national priority by uniting the childhood cancer community, the general public and government officials as one voice against childhood cancer.”
More than 200 people joined Sullivan, 19, who is battling Stage IV CIC-DUX4, Ewing’s-like sarcoma chanting of “Go for Gold,” (the international symbol for childhood cancer is the gold ribbon) and “More than four” (the percentage of funding allocated for children’s cancer according to CureFest).
Other SSCV coaches and teammates joined Campbell along with family members, friends and community members as they marched for youth with cancer.
It takes a ski team
SSCV teammates Kaitlyn Harsch, who now races for the University of Colorado Boulder, and Cleo Braun, who is taking a gap year to race for SSCV, shared megaphone duties and got the people along way to applaud and cheer.
Said Harsch of the event, “Childhood cancer is a hugely underfunded and under-researched disease. Children who are diagnosed with cancer at a young age are fighting a battle many of us can’t even imagine. The Curefest walk today that we partook in today is such an important event, and it was so inspiring to see how many people walked with us today and feel the same way. Campbell truly brings out the best in others, and that was apparent today.
“She is not only a fighter, but also an advocate, and it’s great to see how many people she has brought together for such an important cause.”
Another friend and teammate Sophia Grewal added,” Campbell has been one of my best friends for so long and her fight for cancer and how passionate she is for raising awareness has also made me very passionate for the cause. I am so proud of Campbell and everyone that came out to support our friend and everyone being affected by childhood cancer.
“I think the walk today was great, said SSCV teammate Joshua Telles. “We had brought attention to all people throughout where we were walking.”
Not surprisingly Campbell was ecstatic with the show of turn out, “Having such amazing friends and volunteers is what made this walk happen. I am so grateful for the outpouring of support and this is why I love living in the Vail Valley.
“I am so thankful to have this community behind me during every step of my journey. We had people drive from Denver, Colorado Springs and Glenwood Springs for the walk today. I was originally worried I would be too tired to walk, but my friends helped me by leading the chants and taking it slow.”
Love from Lindsey
Campbell citied the Lindsey Vonn Foundation as an inspiration for starting her own non-profit, the Ski Fast Foundation. Campbell was awarded a scholarship from the Lindsey Vonn Foundation in 2019, which paid the annual program fees at SSCV.
“When Campbell applied for a Lindsey Vonn Foundation Sports Matter Scholarship, our selection committee knew Campbell was special and that she was made to accomplish great things. In fact, she was awarded the largest scholarship in LVF history,” Vonn said.
“We are so proud that we could be a small part of her life and that she has continued to not only accomplish her dreams but inspire others as well. I am so impressed and in awe of her. I hope everyone continues to support her incredible mission.”
Receiving the scholarship Campbell said was a dream come true. “It was so unexpected. They (Foundation) gave me the opportunity to get back on the hill with my coaches and teammates and accomplish my dream of racing again,” Campbell said.
The Ski Fast Foundation’s mission is to assist and support pediatric cancer patients (18 and younger) with sarcoma cancers awarding multiple scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000 to support youths as they strive to return to their pre-diagnosis extracurricular passions in either sports, the arts, music or science both during and post-treatment.
Campbell’s sister, Caitlin, a captain in the US Air Force, drove from Colorado Springs to participate in the march. She spoke of Campbell’s resilience, saying, “Over the last three years since her diagnosis, Campbell has endured seemingly endless chemo, radiation, surgeries, as well as a stem cell transplant. But she has never let her treatment get in the way of supporting her VSSA teammates on the slopes, and more recently starting her foundation. Campbell has become a leading advocate for other cancer warriors, and the nationwide fight for more pediatric federal cancer research funding. I am beyond proud of her and am so thankful for everyone who came out to support our CureFest and Ski Fast Foundation walk in Vail.”
Mom Gibby echoed those thoughts, “As disappointing as it was to not be able to travel to D.C. this year for CureFest, Campbell rallied from that disappointment and created an opportunity in her own community to raise awareness and local support for pediatric cancer funding. That Campbell took a disappointment and made it an opportunity is the absolute cornerstone of her fight with cancer and is true in whatever she tackles, be it athletics, academics or advocacy. She is passionate and determined even when she can barely walk from chemo, surgery or whatever cancer throws at her. Campbell will not be derailed, she has plans to make a difference. Note that those plans will always include her community, be it the kids’ cancer community that she fights for every day or her teammates, family and friends.
“Campbell knows that community makes you stronger and that’s from personally fighting stage IV cancer for the last three years. Watching Campbell work with her local community today to make a national difference is inspiring not only because she is fighting cancer but because the reality is that every child like Campbell is valuable to their community. Every child fighting cancer deserves the opportunity to grow up and make their own difference in the world.”