There were nearly 200 participants in the second annual Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center Cancer Walk Sept. 14. The turnout, more than met the event’s goal, helping to raise more than $10,000 for local cancer support services.

Participants in the second annual HRRMC Cancer Walk depart the hospital parking lot Saturday morning. Walkers utilized the mile and one-half hospital fitness trail around the facility.

The funds came from registrations for the walk, donations, community sponsors and an HRRMC Foundation bake sale.

“I’m very happy with the turnout and the funds raised. We had excellent sponsors and volunteers,” said Emily Haynes, hospital marketing specialist and event co-coordinator.

The event began at the hospital Healing Garden, with comments from organizers, including Jirka Myers, Oncology Infusion manager, and April Obholtz Bergeler, a marketing specialist with the hospital.

She spoke of receiving her cancer diagnosis, just before beginning her job at HRRMC, after having moved here from Denver with her husband, Brian.

She started with a series of numbers that she said changed her life forever. June 13, 2018 — the date she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The number 25 — the number of medical professionals involved in her care. Then the number three — her surgeries over six months, and four — her chemotherapy treatments over 12 weeks.

Cancer survivors applaud in the hospital’s Healing Garden after remarks by event co-coordinator Emily Haynes, left, Saturday morning. 

“I’m not going to lie, there were many dark and scary days,” she told the crowd, “But I was in the hands of many talented, caring individuals here and I had the relentless support of friends, family and coworkers,” said Bergeler. “As I see it, one must choose courage and joy every single minute, hour [and] day. There really is no other way to face cancer.”

“All of those numbers will remain with me, but the most important fact is that I am a cancer survivor!” she said to resounding applause.

The participants then were led by other cancer survivors marching out of the hospital parking lot and around the 1.5-mile fitness trail surrounding the hospital property. Some hiked with their children, while younger children rode strollers, and leashed dogs trotted along.

Some said they did it in memory of someone lost to, or survived cancer. Others said they came out just in support of the cause. All Cancer Walk proceeds will go to support the hospital’s oncology patients.

Hospital marketing employee April Obholtz Bergeler drew loud applause from participants as she detailed her journey from cancer patient to cancer survivor. (Photos by Dan Smith)

Afterward, participants gathered to congratulate one another and partake of snacks and water.

Larry Smith, President of High Country Bank, the presenting sponsor, also participated, along with about 40 bank employees. Smith said everyone’s life has been touched by cancer in one way or another, including four of six members in his own family, as well as employees.

“We have people in the office and outside of the office touched with cancer, and we’ve supported them, and we always try to support the hospital through the foundation,” he added.

Other sponsors of the event included Hard Rock Paving, Anderson Law group, Heart of the Rockies Radiology, Y&K Excavation and Chaffee County Public Health.

2019 Cancer Walk T-shirts will be sold and more donations accepted through the end of this week, while donations to the HRRMC Foundation are welcomed anytime.

Volunteers are always needed in support of the program, including transporting patients to and from their treatments locally and out of town. Interested residents should contact Chris Ortiz at 530-2291.