On Saturday, April 2, 2016, I will be participating in Pink Vail to support patients and survivors at our local cancer center  in honor of my husband Gary, who I lost to cancer last year and I need your support!

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One year ago, my dear husband, Gary, lost his battle of a lifetime.  While I use the wartime words of ‘fight’ or ‘battle’, my dear husband did not.  He wanted to be remembered for the positive impact he made on the world, for fun times and for his relationships with others, not as a loser in a fight. When he died, he defied the prognosis for his type of cancer and achieved a great deal with his life.  He, I and our children do not want to feel a failure about something beyond our control.  We refuse to believe his death was because we didn’t battle hard enough.  I cannot see anything “brave” about how we lived our life. Bravery implies a choice. Someone who lays down their life to save another human being is brave. We didn’t choose to be affected by cancer and we don’t believe being placed on the courage pedestal helps us to continue living. Just because Gary had cancer, it doesn’t mean we cannot make mistakes or be selfish, but it almost becomes an expectation that because you are a cancer patient that you somehow become the perfect person or family. These expectations can be tough to live with on a daily basis.

As a cancer patient who died in the this past year and left so many of us missing him, Gary, Broby, Gaby and I believe rather that instead of reaching for the traditional battle language, [life] is about living as well as possible, coping, acceptance, gentle positivity, setting short-term, achievable goals, and drawing on support from those closest to you.  That is what he did and that is what he wanted for all of us as we go into the future.

In honor of all of us and especially Gary, we will celebrate Pink Vail.    Pink Vail is a day to raise money to fight cancer and those that help support and help us endure this nasty disease.  I am ever so grateful for the Shaw Cancer Center and am skiing that day to donate as much as we can on behalf of Gary and my family.  We will never forget the love and support they gave us all during the most difficult time of our lives.  They are in need of additional staffing, equipment and other things.  I truly hope you can come out and support us either by skiing with us or making a donation.  All funds raised by my family and friends will go to the Shaw Cancer Center here in Edwards, Colorado.

Please support me in this great cause! To make a donation on my behalf and help me reach my fundraising goal, click here to visit my page.

If you would like to join me in my efforts to ski/ride on April 2nd, then please register to participate. You don’t have to be a skier to join me, there are many ways to participate. Those of you who don’t ski can volunteer or enjoy the festivities at Pink Vail Headquarters with a complimentary foot traffic ticket. This event is so much fun, you don’t want to miss it!

Thanks for your support!

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All funds raised at Pink Vail directly benefit patient care and survivorship programs that includes free fitness classes, nutrition coaching, and emotional support for cancer patients and survivors at Shaw Regional Cancer Center – a service of Vail Valley Medical Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Shaw is a fully accredited cancer treatment and comprehensive breast center in Edwards, Colorado. For more information, visit Shaw Regional Cancer Center online.

About Gary:

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My husband, Gary, and I were only married three months when I begged this native Californian to move to Vail, Colorado with me.  Being the unselfish man he was, he hesitantly drove a new Ford Explorer with a packed U-haul from sunny San Diego to snowy Vail in December of 1992. Since I was born and bred in Minnesota, Vail seemed like a perfect place for both of us to settle. We rented a Par 6 condo sight unseen and began our married lives together in a blizzard! The great skiing was immediately apparent. Gary loved all the outdoor sports that Vail life afforded, skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer.

As the years went by, we had two wonderful children, Broby and Gaby. Many new friendships were cemented throughout the valley and as we continued to develop roots, Vail became Gary’s new home. Our children were the most important thing in our lives. Broby and Gaby attended Vail Mountain School where we had a true family of friends.  The headmaster had told us, “It takes a village to raise children” and at VMS, we found our village. The children were active in Ski Club Vail and the Vail Valley Dance Academy. Broby was an avid soccer player and Gary being the awesome dad that he was, never missed a game, a ski event, a chance to watch Gaby dance or to support me in all of my endeavors. It was often said that, ” when you get Liz, you get something better too, you get Gary!” He was my rock who helped me with computer issues, creative thinking and planning. He would do anything to support my career and dreams.

Growing up in Southern California, Gary spent his early life enjoying the beach and sunsets.  He was always self-motivated and started in the restaurant business when he was young and ended up owning his own restaurant, The Palms Cafe in La Jolla, Ca. Gary was a family man in every sense of the word. He grew up in a loving family with his two sisters and their families. I learned the true meaning of family being surrounded by his. Gary was recently predeceased by his mother, Doris Leeds Vettese. His father Robert Leeds, who Gary resembled in so many ways earning him the nickname BJ ( Bob junior) passed away in 2003. Gary is also survived by many cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces who all adored him.

Upon selling the Palms Cafe, Gary vacationed in Hawaii where we met and fell in love in 1983. We have spent the last thirty-two years together loving the life in Vail, enjoying our children grow surrounded by close friends and family. Gary was diagnosed in 2008 with CLL and in February of 2014 was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. We immediately began battling this devastating disease with the latest experimental treatments available. After a heroic fight, Gary passed away peacefully during the night of February 13, 2015.

Gary will be missed forever but his memory will live on in all of the lives he touched with his warmth, compassion, humor and kindness.

With forever great love and admiration, Liz, Broby and Gaby Leeds