Summit’s Courage Classic team rides a second time |

Summit’s Courage Classic team rides a second time

Special to the DailyLocal parents Amy and Brian Waldes are organizing a Courage Classic team for the second year in a row. They're riding in the event to raise money for The Children's Hospital in Denver, which helped heal their 19-month-old daughter Sonja's genetic heart defects.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Sonja Waldes’s birth was nothing short of a miracle – her parents weren’t sure she’d survive a year, and now, the 19-month-old girl is thriving and healthy. Her parents attribute her rebound to The Children’s Hospital in Denver.

And to say “thank you” to doctors and staff for saving Sonja, Summit Cove residents Brian and Amy Waldes are now fundraising once again for the hospital by riding in the 2010 Courage Classic. The three-day Courage Classic will tour around the Summit County area from July 31-Aug. 2, and teams will ride 157 miles through the mountains around Copper Mountain and Leadville. Millions of dollars are raised by participants each year, and it’s a big deal for funding research or simply for giving families hope.

“It’s about thanking the hospital for what they did for Sonja, and it’s for helping the next kid who’s walking through the door,” said Brian Waldes. “It’s important to know that we’re helping families who are there right now.”

Not long after Sonja’s birth, it was discovered she had a complex heart defect including an interrupted aortic arch, VSD (a ventricular septal defect), a small aortic valve and cardiac developmental risks. The family turned to The Children’s Hospital for care, and nine days after Sonja’s birth, she under went six hours of open-heart surgery. She spent her first year in and out of the hospital for treatment, recovery and checkups, and she still remains a patient with regular visits to the cardiology, genetics, pediatrics, immunology and audiology departments.

“Sonja is doing great,” said Amy Waldes. “Her recent cardiology visit cleared her for a year, which is a huge milestone for us and her. We’re still monitoring her health and wellness. She’s just learning to walk and talk.”

The Waldes family also said there are still spots available on their team – Sonja’s Soldiers – and everyone is welcome. They hope to raise $15,000 for the hospital this year on top of the $11,600 they raised in 2009. Sonja’s Soldiers is the largest, and possibly the only, Summit County team participating. Thus far, they’ve raised $400, so there’s a long way to go to reach the group’s 2010 goal.

“We have nine people on the team right now,” said Brian Waldes. “Nine’s the limit for the Tour de France, but we can take as many as we can get.”

“Children’s Hospital is a big resource,” Amy Waldes added. “It treats so many kids from our county and surrounding mountain communities. … We would love more team members, and we’d love contributions and sponsors.”

Children’s Hospital is now providing pediatric care to more patients than at any other time in its history. In the next few years, its foundation website said its goal is to build on its existing strengths and partnerships to extend its reach locally, nationally and even internationally.

To donate to Sonja’s Soldiers, visit

SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or


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