A Month of Thanksgiving

Here at Shining Stars Foundation, we are reminded each day to be thankful for what we have. It is this gratitude that helps us to see the beauty of life, even in its darkest moments.

Each Friday this month, we will share a story from a Shining Stars child or family. These families are incredibly grateful to you- our donors and supporters- for the support and hope they have been given through Shining Stars. Thanks to you- no one fights cancer or another life-threatening illness alone!

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Tune in tomorrow for our first Thanksgiving feature!

it's Winter Games eve!

It may be March, but it feels like Christmas Eve here in Aspen! The Shining Stars 2015 Winter Games officially kicks off tomorrow, upon the arrival of 65 children with cancer or life-threatening illnesses from across the country. 

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We are busy, busy preparing the Inn at Aspen for what is sure to be an amazing week. Schedule highlights include daily adaptive ski or snowboard instruction out on Buttermilk Mountain, snowmobiling at T Lazy 7 Ranch, the Disco Party at the Aspen Elks Lodge, and SO much more. For a full schedule of the week's events- click here

Follow us throughout the week for stories of strength and hope. We will also be showcasing some of the amazing sponsors who help make this week a reality. If you would like to Sponsor a Star at the 2015 Winter Games , click here. 

BE THE HOPE this week with Shining Stars! 

The best way to spread holiday cheer...

...is singing loud for all to hear! We won't subject you to our singing voices BUT we would like to sing the praises of all those who helped make the 2014 Shining Stars Holiday Party and Toy Drive a huge success. We filled over 60 toy boxes throughout the Aspen, Grand County and Denver areas and collected our largest haul of toys yet! It was a good thing, too, because we hosted over 200 children and families at the Shining Stars Holiday Party on December 20th.

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The Lakewood Elks once again generously donated space to host our event, and the Denver Rotarians, along with a very special group of volunteers, turned out in numbers to help unpack toys and greet families.

Check out all of those toys! The look on faces of our Shining Stars as they entered the ballroom was absolutely priceless.

Our guests were greeted by the holiday vocal stylings of "Soundz Familiar" and later enjoyed a magic show by Magician Keir Royale. Santa Claus himself was also there to take any last minute toy requests!

When asked what the holiday party means to their families, check out what some of our Shining Stars parents had to say..

"The party was amazing and to us, it's like coming to a family event. Since our son has a compromised immune system, he doesn't go to public school. This is the only holiday party he gets to attend and it's truthfully the only one he wants to attend. Being around all these other families who "get it" makes it the most relaxing wonderful place to be. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - Shining Star Mom, Sarah.

"To all the generous hearts who donated to the Holiday Party, thank you!  Our children's eyes were huge when they saw all the toys they got to choose from. Christmas is so important to us on many levels, but it can be a huge financial burden with 4 children and a life threatening illness to battle. I hope that you are feeling the joy of giving, because you have given this family a lot. Generosity is contagious and we are all moved by your kindness. Have a wonderful and most importantly healthy holiday." - Shining Star Mom, Kim.

 

We are so incredibly grateful to all those who have helped us make this holiday extra special for children with cancer or life-threatening illness and their families! Stay tuned for more photos of the event, coming soon!
 

To Old Friends and New- Bites & Bottles 2014

Last Monday, Shining Stars was honored to be the beneficiaries of the 2014 Bites & Bottles fundraiser, presented by the Greater Denver chapter of the National Association of Caterers and Event Planners. The event was hosted at The Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver and featured delicious food and drink from Denver’s best caterers. The evening was led by our new friend, Master of Ceremonies and former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers. A great time was had by all! A portion of the proceeds from the evening will be donated to Shining Stars, where 95 cents of every dollars goes DIRECTLY to fund our children’s programs. It's always fun to have a good time for a great cause!

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The silent and live auctions were managed by Auctions By Cellular, ABC, a mobile bidding and silent auction technology firm. We were thrilled to see a familiar face among the red shirts with ABC- former Shining Star Brittney, who attended Winter Games in 2001! Brittney works as an ABC Pro while going to nursing school, where she hopes to graduate and become a pediatric oncology nurse.  Prior to seeing the Shining Stars crew at the winery, she had no idea who the fundraiser was for. It was truly magical to see Brittney thriving in life so many years after she was a Shining Star in Aspen. Brittney was honored to be a part of the event and even got up to speak during the live auction paddle raiser. She spoke about how important Shining Stars was for her throughout her cancer treatment, and how her experience at Winter Games truly gave her hope for life once again.

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Brittney’s success story touched everyone present and reminded us once again why we do what we do. So that kids like Brittney who are forced to look life-threatening illnesses in the face do not have to do so alone. So that these kids can find their inner strength and conquer whatever life throws their way. So that they can continue to live and thrive with passion, just as Brittney has. 

We had a great time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones at this fabulous event. Thanks again to NACE for having us and helping us raise money to bring HOPE to children who truly need it.

GO TEAM SHINING STARS!

Is this the new fad in sports recruiting? General managers from across the country have been signing children as young as 5 years old to jump on board both professional and collegiate squads. Rather, these teams are offering honorary positions to childhood cancer patients whose passion for the game- be it soccer, basketball or golf- has helped them conquer some unimaginable challenges!

Recently, national news focused a story on 5-year old “free agent guard” J.P. Gibson, who is currently battling ALL- or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. J.P. got to toss the rock around with some of his favorite professional players after an elaborate signing ceremony. This small gesture meant the world to J.P. and his family- showing J.P. all that is possible in life. Check out the video below- adorable!


Three of our Shining Stars are also honored athletes at Denver’s Regis University, signing contracts through a program called Team IMPACT. Not only will Stars Jamie, Miles and Alex attend practices with the Rangers- Jamie with the Women’s Soccer team, Miles with the Men's Baseball team and Alex with the Men’s Golf squad, but will be invited to all organized events, community service projects, home games, ice cream parties- pretty much wherever the team goes!

Photo courtesy of CBS 4 Denver.

Photo courtesy of CBS 4 Denver.

Photo Courtesy of RU Golf website

Photo Courtesy of RU Golf website

Team IMPACT strives to improve quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. Similarly, Shining Stars strives to allow these children to see their future in a brighter light. We seek to improve quality of life by showing these children all that they are capable of and all the amazing things the future can hold, while supporting them in the present and giving them new opportunities to truly live out each day to the fullest.

Another parallel between Team IMPACT and Shining Stars is the teamwork driven approach to life. At the Aspen Winter Games, we bring kids of all ages together who are facing or have faced similar challenges. Throughout the week these kids form extremely strong bonds with one another. These relationships are reinforced each year at the Grand County Family Adventure, where not only the child but their entire family is able to come together with other families and support one another through some of the darkest times of their lives. This support network extends from peer to peer, sibling to sibling and parent to parent. Having that huge Shining Stars team to rely on throughout the cancer journey provides hope and comfort to each member of our amazing families. 

I can tell you one thing- Team Shining Stars is about as tough a team as you’ll encounter in this game we call life!

★ Intergalactic Miracles ★

This past Saturday, September 20th, the 7th annual Miracle Party for Childhood Cancer was held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock. The evening is meant to give pediatric cancer patients and their families a night off from the hospital and the worries of daily life to let loose and have some fun! This year, the theme of the evening was Space! The Infinite Frontier. Shining Stars once again sponsored the event and set up our booth to spread the word about  programs available to pediatric cancer patients and their families. Staff members Cookie Ready and Rosemary White represented the Foundation in style- can you guess their costumes? 

Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala!

Anakin Skywalker and Queen Amidala!

The Miracle Party featured musical guests Beyond 5 and Lexi Walker, delicious BBQ from Famous Dave's and so much more. We were so excited to see so many of our Shining Stars Families taking the night off to enjoy the party and each other. It was also exciting to meet new families and children to join us this year at Winter Games! Thank you to the Miracle Party Foundation for making this magical night possible. 

 

Harvesting Goodness!

We had a wonderful day at the Miller Farms Fall Festival on Sunday enjoying the sunshine, catching up with old friends, and picking yummy vegetables! This year we had a record breaking year of over 75 attendees for the day! Our families got to explore the numerous fields, learn how the different veggies grow, bounce on the giant jumping balloon, race around the track in pedal cars, and slide down the giant dirt hill. After playing around on the farm, the group sat down to a satisfying lunch of brats and hotdogs provided by Miller Farms and potluck side dishes.

Shining Star Alex and his Mom seeking out the best corn on the farm!

Shining Star Alex and his Mom seeking out the best corn on the farm!

Miller Farms is one of our families' favorite events each year and provides them the opportunity to have a kitchen full of nutritious food and create delicious gifts for all the people that have supported them throughout their journey of having a seriously, chronically ill child. We are very grateful to the Miller Farms staff that continues to support us year after year with our rapidly growing numbers!

I can’t wait to make salsa with my sister! It’s going to be our first time to do it all by ourselves!
— Shining Star Preston K.


Fall is Falling!

Fall is a magnificent time in the High Rockies region of Colorado where we are based. The trees light up into yellow, red and orange while the air gets a little brisk and we are reminded that winter is on it's way.

At Shining Stars, Fall is a time we can reflect on the Summer behind us and plan for the Winter season ahead. This has been a busy and productive Summer for us here at the Foundation.

We put on three large fundraisers with the help of our growing and dedicated volunteer force. Board Member Marty Roberts and Staff Member Heather Bratton, along with our fabulous Golf Committee, put on a SOLD OUT tournament at a brand new course this year at the 10th Annual Tee Off For Kids With Cancer Tournament.

A brand new event was held in June at the Aspen home of Dr. Patricia Hill, Glitz in the Garden. The afternoon featured live music, wine tastings, boutique shopping and delicious bites from local Aspen restaurants. It was a fun and glamorous outing that got us so excited to start planning next summer's Wine, Women, and Shoes fundraiser, which will be held for over 250 people at the base of Aspen Mountain!

Another one of our summer fundraisers is the Winter Park Half Marathon, from which all proceeds are donated to the foundation. Race director and Shining Stars volunteer Nicolena Johnson did an amazing job putting the race together this year and we are so excited to watch this event grow!

The money raised at these events allowed us to fill the summer with fun for our Shining Stars families! Events included a day at the Denver Zoo, Van's Equipment Day, Monster Truck Rally at the Colorado National Speedway, a Lucky Strike bowling event, "The Fault in Our Stars" movie screening, Rockies baseball games, and much more!

Our two summer programs- the Grand County Family Adventure and the Aspen Summer Adventure- were absolutely magical experiences, where we witnessed friends new and old support each other and make new memories.

All of these opportunities have allowed our families to strengthen bonds and create new friendships with others who know the challenges and the struggles of having a child with a life threatening illness. We feel honored and lucky to be able to provide these memory-making,  life-changing experiences to brave children who are fighting or have fought cancer or another life threatening illness, as well as the deserving families who support them.

We truly love what we do and are grateful each day for our supportive communities and inspiring families! We are looking forward to an equally magical Winter season- planning has already begun for Winter Games 2015 and we can't wait to meet all of our new kids.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

 

 

New and Improved Website

Happy Monday!

As you may have noticed, we have begun the process of creating a new and improved website to help us reach our community in a clear and effective way. This new page will feature a family resource section, regularly updated blog, activities calendar and much more! If you have any ideas about what you'd like the site to include please let us know!

Last week was one of our favorite times throughout the year- the 2014 Grand County Family Adventure! We welcomed about 250 people to Grand County for a week of fun, sun and relaxation. The group consisted of 54 Shining Stars Families, who came from far and wide to spend some time together up in the Rockies. The families enjoyed outdoor adventures like a day in Grand Lake, a day at Winter Park Resort, Rafting with MAD Adventures, Horseback Riding at Sombrero Stables, fishing at Rendezvous Pond and much, much more!

Throughout the week, the families were able to network and communicate with one another about their experiences with childhood cancer. We had some families with freshly diagnosed children and while some has been in remission for 5+ years. Seeing how these families supported and shared with each other was the most magical part of the entire week! 

We ALREADY can't wait until next year!

In other news: Megan Bryant, Director of Development, was invited to a luncheon in Granby to accept a grant from the Union Pacific Foundation last week. The affair was held on one of U.P.'s restored train liners and Megan got to mingle with the Union Pacific management. See below for a photo! 

( Left to Right) COO Lance Fritz, CEO Jack Koraleski, Shining Stars Director of Development Megan Bryant,  President of the Union Pacific Foundation Bob Turner, and Union Pacific Director of Public Affairs Sara Thompson Cassidy.    
  
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( Left to Right) COO Lance Fritz, CEO Jack Koraleski, Shining Stars Director of Development Megan Bryant,  President of the Union Pacific Foundation Bob Turner, and Union Pacific Director of Public Affairs Sara Thompson Cassidy.


Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Rosemary