Dillon couple raises $7,000 in effort to ‘Truck Cancer’
Husband and wife tandem Andy Hass and Caroline Bellace have hosted too many parties to count out of their Dillon Valley backyard, but one they threw about a month and a half ago will forever stand on its own.
In fact, the longtime Summit County residents nearly skipped their annual themed bash after the recent and devastating loss of more than a half-dozen loved ones and close friends to cancer. That’s when the idea sprouted to refocus the festivities — what had in the past been a mix of luaus, fiestas and German-themed events — and instead support the cause. The heartening results were nothing they could have ever imagined.
“It really started because we were just super pissed off about cancer,” said Bellace, a local Realtor and salesperson. “It just seemed like every month we were getting bad news and nobody was surviving. Prior to that, we had never really experienced anything like that before.”
So on July 29, the Dillon couple invited friends, family and neighbors to their home for a shrimp boil fundraiser they titled “Truck Cancer.” The invite, which doubled as a raffle ticket for a slew of prizes, added of the function’s title: “You know what we really wanted to say.”
For $20 a head, guests received food, a commemorative beer stein, beer donated by Dillon’s Pug Ryan’s Brewery and a chance to win contributed items including a 55-inch television, lift tickets from Loveland Ski Area, a season pass from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and a foursome golf outing at Copper Mountain Resort. Special event T-shirts that featured Hass’ commercial tucking company A.C. Hass Transport logo were also available for a donation of the purchaser’s choosing — all proceeds going toward a pot of money to be given to the Shaw Breast Center & Cancer Clinic in Frisco.
“My goal was to raise $2,000,” said Bellace, who’d never hosted such a gathering and didn’t know what to expect. “We ended up exceeding it before the party even started, and when we did we were ecstatic.”
All said and done — and after several prizewinners feeling the full spirit of charitable giving even donated their loot back to the cause for auction to the highest bidder — Truck Cancer raised $7,000. The local cancer clinic, run by Vail Health (formerly Vail Valley Medical Center), will now use the unanticipated windfall to support Summit County residents receiving treatment and in need of financial assistance in a particularly trying time in their lives.
“It goes really far,” Stacy Toyama, the Shaw Cancer Center’s vice president, said of that amount of money. “And knowing that this came from someone in their very own community, it can be tremendously powerful. With this type of assistance, often it’s not the best time in a patient’s life when they needed the support, and they find themselves later giving back and paying that forward.”
More specifically, the available patient assistance dollars will go toward essentials like a month’s mortgage or childcare, general grocery and gas expenses, or even dental care if someone’s insurance doesn’t cover their needs following chemotherapy treatments that can ravage a patient’s teeth. The main branch of the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards has been the beneficiary of such fundraisers in the Vail valley, but Hass and Bellace’s contribution is one of the first for the Frisco clinic.
“And that money is already being put to work, which is so, so great,” said Toyama. “A patient is getting care from the practice in Frisco, and funds are going to support a patient who has a significant need, and they’re getting help with that because of this event.”
With the Peterbilt truck rig parked in the driveway so both the children and kids at heart could hop in the seat and have fun pulling the horn, Bellace and Hass were once again glad to be the entertainers at their home. Ultimately they wound up so grateful they held another party for friends and family for making this social gathering one to remember.
“We definitely had a really good time in the backyard,” said Bellace. “And I just feel like that Shaw Center in Frisco is going to be more important than anybody realizes. I have a feeling a lot of us here are going to need it, which is unfortunate. But the money is definitely going to be kept here locally, which was important.”
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