For Koby: Team Summit 12-year-old hosts Sunday skiathon in honor of late friend, to benefit Keystone Adaptive | SummitDaily.com

For Koby: Team Summit 12-year-old hosts Sunday skiathon in honor of late friend, to benefit Keystone Adaptive

If you find yourself heading up the Peru Express chairlift at Keystone Resort today at 8:15 a.m., you'll be skiing and snowboarding beside a group with a good cause. And they will be led by a 12-year-old who wants more people to have the "life-changing" experience his late 12-year-old friend was able to enjoy on Christmas Day 2016.

Caleb Becker, 12, of Denver and Keystone will lead that group for a three-and-a-half hour skiathon to raise money for the Keystone Adaptive Center in honor of his late friend Koby Gruenwald, who died last month after a 22-month battle with brain cancer.

Despite the illness, in December 2016 Gruenwald, for the first time since his spring 2016 diagnosis, was able to ski thanks to the Keystone Adaptive Center. And Caleb was right there alongside Gruenwald.

"I was overjoyed for him," Caleb wrote in his message on the YouCaring site. "That day I decided to skip ski team in order to go ski with him. We were really excited to see each other and soon we started to ski. Koby had the most fun I had seen him have in a long time. I decided I want other people like Koby to experience that happiness."

He was there for Koby, the Elbert, Colorado, "Ranch Camp" bunkmate and first friend he made after the Becker family moved to Colorado in 2011.

"What they did for him," Caleb's mom Evelyn Becker said of Keystone Adaptive, "is they gave him two days on the mountain to feel like a kid again and feel free and feel happy and feel that rush of wind in his face and be next to his friend — playing."

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In just over two months, 95 people have contributed more than $6,100 to an online YouCaring page that originally had a goal of $5,000. Caleb believes the funds will go a long way for the center that provides Alpine skiing and snowboarding lessons to people with disabilities and other special needs.

"The fee for participating in the adaptive program is $225, and $250 during the part of the ski season with more snow," Caleb wrote in his message on the YouCaring site. "I am raising money so that people with disabilities like Koby can participate in such a life-changing experience without having to worry about finding the money they need in order to do so."

Today's skiathon will be attended by both old Front Range friends Koby and Caleb made while attending the Denver Jewish Day School and new friends from the Team Summit youth program who are teammates of Caleb.

Skiing and snowboarding were shared passions for the school and summer camp friends, as the snowboarder Koby would ride the "Copper Choppers" bus up to Copper Mountain Resort while Caleb grew to love skiing. He now is a member of coach Max Dentel's U-13 Team Summit Big Mountain ski team, just one of several Team Summit teams that will be in attendance handing out coffee, hot chocoloate, donuts, cookies and a jar at the Mountain House base.

The night before the skiathon in honor of his friend was set to start, Caleb relayed thanks for the support of the Summit County community.

"When we first started it, I didn't expect it to get so big," Caleb said. "To have so many people involved — a couple hundred people are now donating or coming and interested. It's great."