Running a 5 or 10 kilometer mountain trail race is tough, but compared to the race a kid with cancer has to run, it’s a walk in the park.
The two challenges come together on Saturday in the first Maggie’s Mountain Run — a 5k, 10k or 1 mile running event on dirt roads through the scenic Argonaut Farm south of Glenwood Springs.
The event benefits the Perez family of Glenwood Springs, whose 7-year-old daughter, Manuela, is battling leukemia. It is also intended to help raise awareness of the wider Miracles From Maggie efforts. Funds.
Cyndi and Jim McGinnis are caretakers of Argonaut Farm, located along Four Mile Road on the way to Sunlight Mountain Resort.
Before moving to Glenwood Springs from Pittsburgh, they started the nonprofit Miracles From Maggie Fund through the Pittsburgh Foundation in memory of Cyndi’s daughter (Jim’s stepdaughter), Maggie Elder, who died. at the age of 11 in February 2012 from a form of bone cancer. .
“Throughout Maggie’s eight-month journey with cancer, we’ve had such an outpouring of kindness from our community, and (Maggie’s fund) has become a way for us to give back,” said said Cyndi McGinnis.
Miracles From Maggie helps provide direct support to families suffering the effects of childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, including a therapeutic riding program, partnerships with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, cancer research pediatrics and other support programs through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. .
The McGinnis moved to Glenwood Springs five years ago to oversee the farm owned by Cyndi’s brother and sister-in-law. This year, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Maggie’s passing, they wanted to expand those efforts to the Roaring Fork Valley, she said.
“It’s been a way of giving purpose to our pain and a way of healing for us,” she said.
Manuela Perez loves rainbows. She likes to see them in the sky and have her picture taken with them. She also enjoys drawing and painting rainbows.
But these days, too many of her rainbows are seen through her bedroom window at Denver Children’s Hospital. She paints her pictures between cancer treatments.
“She’s a very strong and very resilient girl,” said her father, Felipe Perez. “She takes care of her art and she is very active. It helped a lot and she has a very positive mindset.
But she doesn’t like losing her hair from cancer treatments and she wants a wig. Felipe and his mother, Sylvia Perez, are working with Children’s to have a wig designed for Manuela, but that’s just one of many things they might need help with, Felipe said.
“When we got the diagnosis, she was uninsured,” said Felipe, who is in the United States on a work visa from Colombia and is a Spanish teacher at Basalt High School.
Sylvia is also a teacher but had to give up her job to care for Manuela, including the time and expense of regular trips to Denver for treatment.
“It’s getting very expensive, so it will help cover some of the medical costs,” Felipe said. “A lot of people have been supportive, including Maggie’s parents.”
Manuela also has a brother, who is 14, and a younger sister.
McGinnis said one of his Miracles From Maggie committee members knew the Perezes and referred them to the organization for help. It turns out the McGinnis learned they attended the same church, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs, as the Perez family. So they’ve gotten to know each other since, McGinnis said.
Miracle of the Mountain
Argonaut Farm has hosted cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for many years as part of the annual Special Olympics Winter Games for the West Slope.
The McGinnis wanted to hold an on-site running event to benefit the childhood cancer fund, and Saturday’s run will be the first public charity event at the farm, McGinnis said.
Enter avid runner and race organizer Rick Chavez of Glenwood Springs, who was introduced to the McGinnis by Michelle James at Vicki Lee Green Realtors, and agreed to ride Maggie’s Mountain Run.
“I’ve worked a lot with races in Texas and elsewhere, and when I heard it was for a good cause, I said ‘of course,'” said Chavez, whose son, Jordan, was member of the US Mountain Running Team.
Argonaut is the perfect setting for a trail race, but it will be a tough course, especially the 10K, Chavez said.
“It’s like a forest service road, maybe a little rougher, with 1,700 feet of climbing in the first 3 or 4 miles,” he said.
The shorter 5K event also has about 700 feet of elevation gain, but isn’t as difficult as the 10K, he said.
“You get some nice views up the Flat Tops and towards the sunlight either way,” Chavez said. “The fun mile run is just out and back so it’s a good option.”
Online registration is closed, but registration will still take place on site on Saturday morning.
The 10K starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K at 8:30 a.m. and the mile race at 9 a.m. Admission is $35, and there will be burgers and other food and drinks at the finish line party.