Local leaders and residents participated in an epic experience of their own Friday, April 19, in support of a local nonprofit that provides outdoor adventures for cancer patients and survivors.
Arvada Chamber of Commerce President Dot Wright hosted a fundraiser that included hair clippers April 19 at the D Note, 7519 Grandview Ave., in support of Epic Experience.
Epic Experience is a nonprofit that offers weeklong adventure camps in the Rocky Mountains about three and half hours west of Denver to adult cancer patients and survivors.
During the fundraiser, Wright, District 4 Councilman Bob Dyer, members of the blues band and the evening’s entertainment the Duke Street Kings and other residents collected donations to shave their heads. The fundraiser raised about $8,000 for the nonprofit.
Carl Craig with Environmental Resource Associates donated $500 to be able to be the person who shaved Wright’s locks.
“I wanted to bring awareness to Epic Experience,” Wright said. “It’s a great organization that does great things for people battling cancer … when a chick shaves her head it gets a lot of attention and catches people’s eye.”
Wright said everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.
Her father died of lung cancer when he was 41 and she was 19, and an aunt and several friends of her friends have been diagnosed with the disease.
“Epic Experience takes survivors on weeklong adventures and gives them hope and something to look forward to at no cost,” Wright said.
Lexiss Browning, 6, also had his head shaved. He went to the fundraiser with his mother, Lin Browning, the president of the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, and decided while they were there he wanted to shave his head, too.
Browning set a goal of raising $525 from attendees before he shaved his head, and within a half hour, that goal was met.
D’Ametri’s Hair Salon, 7601 Grandview Ave., provided stylists to give Wright, Browning and others their buzzcuts.
“Dot is incredible for doing this,” said Epic Experience co-founder and Arvada resident Nancy Ferro.
“To join the chamber and have her say she’s going to do this for us is amazing. We rely on the generosity of people.”
Epic Experience was founded by Ferro and Abby Staible.
Ferro’s son Michael, 28, is a five-year survivor of testicular cancer and went on a similar trip for young cancer survivors.
“We saw an amazing response with him when he came back,” Ferro said. “A lot of organizations do outdoor adventure therapy, but we don’t like to use that word. We call it Make-a-Wish for adults.”
During the camps, cancer patients and survivors and their caregivers go on a week-long adventure that includes activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog sledding, yoga, horseback riding, hiking and more. This summer’s camps will feature whitewater kayaking.
During the camps, about 15 survivors go to a dude ranch and participate in outdoor adventures. The camps already have waiting lists.
“Really what we see is a bringing together,” Ferro said. “We have people who are two-year and five-year survivors and people in the middle of treatment. What we see is, especially with some done with active treatment, is it’s not over. They’re dealing with the aftereffects … they’re trying to find a new normal.”
The trips bring together complete strangers, but they immediately open up to each other, Ferro said.
“We’ll take them on the river and most people haven’t done it before, some have, but it gives them a new fun challenge and by the end of the week, cancer might a little of the discussion, but it’s more of `I can’t believe I just did that.’”
Ferro said the easiest way for people to support Epic Experience is through donating, which can be done at their website, www.EpicExperience.org.
The organization is always looking for volunteers.