Living Journeys growing to support community members fighting cancer

Take a hike (or run) this Saturday, July 23

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

This Saturday, the Crested Butte community will gather at 12,162 feet on the peak of Crested Butte Mountain for a cause: to support those in the Gunnison Valley who are fighting cancer and honor friends and family members lost to cancer. The 22nd annual Living Journeys Summit Hike and 10th annual Half Marathon take place this Saturday, July 23, and are the biggest fundraisers for the organization that has been providing services and support for people experiencing cancer for over 20 years. 

“Living Journeys is a community driven non-profit organization in Gunnison County that provides financial assistance, emotional support and enrichment programs to people diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones,” said executive director Julie Reid. “Our vision is to ensure no one in Gunnison County fights cancer alone. Also, part of our outreach is to organize these community events in the beautiful landscape of Mt. Crested Butte where people can participate in honor, memory or support of a loved one impacted by cancer.”

Summit Hike participants have the option to hike 11.5 miles round trip from the CBMR base area to the peak, or ride the Silver Queen and hike the 2-mile round trip high alpine trail to the top. KBUT will also be broadcasting on the peak, interviewing people about who they are supporting, honoring or remembering.

“The Summit Hike is one of the most beloved events held here on Mt. Crested Butte; it is a day where our community comes together for this family-friendly event and hike from the base or take a chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Crested Butte,” said Reid. 

The Half Marathon starts at the base of CBMR and the 13.1-mile course climbs to the top of the Silver Queen and down again between service roads and single track. Living Journeys provides three aid stations with drinks and snacks along the way. Also on the table is a $500 cash prize for both the men’s and women’s winners, with $300 awarded for second place and $100 for third place. 

“The Half Marathon is a challenging and beautiful course for participants to come test their running skills,” said Reid.   

The finish of both the race and hike will culminate with a celebratory brunch catered by Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle and live music. “For both events; the views are breathtaking, the camaraderie is heartwarming and the celebration at the end is beyond special,” said Reid. “We are hoping to grow the events to have our biggest event to date.”

Living Journeys’ goal is to raise $90,000 between the two events this year, and anticipates more than 200 hikers for the Summit Hike and 200 runners for the Half Marathon. Last year, the hiking event (there was no half marathon) raised $40,000. 

“When someone supports a Living Journeys event, you directly give to our community members fighting cancer,” said Reid. “So many people have felt the ripple effect of cancer. We’ve all been affected by cancer in some way, whether it was a neighbor or teacher or clerk at the store or family member. To be able to come together and honor our community, to raise very important funds to provide this lifeline is huge. It’s such an inspiring and important day to see our community members that have cancer and come out, or those that lost family members that come out. That is so special.”

Since 2007, Living Journeys has supported clients with over 30 types of cancer, with the vision that no one in Gunnison County fights cancer alone.

In 2021, Living Journeys served approximately 100 clients affected by cancer. “We have grown our client services 110%. That’s huge, we couldn’t do that without the community’s support,” said Reid. 

“We could not do it without the generosity of our 2022 sponsors,” said Reid. “We want to give a massive THANK YOU to the Town of Mt Crested Butte, Gunnison Valley Health, Mountain Colors, EpicPromise, The Foundation, Signature Properties-Jesse Ebner, SRSI, The Movement Center, Eleven, Hargrove & Kidd Construction, Pinnacle Orthopedics, Blind Faith, Acli-mate, Jacksons Honest Chips, Bobo Bars, Altitude Painting, Community Banks for Colorado, Crested Butte Old Town Inn, and Heather Woodward- Berkshire Hathaway Today Realty.” 

Last year, Living Journeys distributed over $110,000 in financial grants to help with rent, mortgage, bills and other expenses related to cancer. Living Journeys also provides emotional support, and last year granted over 270 hours of private therapy not only to individuals fighting cancer, but also the caregivers and children. Also in 2021, Living Journeys reimbursed over 12,000 miles for travel support to community members needing to leave the valley for treatment. Its new nutrition program delivered 3,500 healthy, nutritious meals and boxes of produce last year for clients in treatment and recovery and their families. 

This year, the organization has committed to increase its financial grants program to more than $160,000 in direct support. Living Journeys also offers support groups for those with cancer, caregivers and bereavement.

To register to hike, run or volunteer this weekend, visit livingjourneys.org. If you are interested in donating to Living Journeys to help support Gunnison Valley community members impacted by cancer, please also visit the website for more information.

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