Broby Leeds honors father with Pink Vail fundraiser
VAIL — Broby Leeds was in Spain when he received the news. His father, longtime local resident Gary Leeds, had died from cancer.
“It happened the day before I was supposed to come back from the World University Games in Spain,” Leeds said. “I pretty much stopped competing and came home.”
Broby Leeds is a Vail native halfpipe skier approaching the very top echelons of the sport. He’s competed at the Dew Tour, the Grand Prix and the freeskiing World Championships, where he just missed the podium this year. Now back home with his mother, Liz Leeds, and sister, Gaby Leeds, Broby’s next big competition will be a little different than what he’s used to. He’s competing to raise as much money as he can for cancer through Pink Vail, Shaw Regional Cancer Center’s annual ski day for cancer, where Broby has been an ambassador for the past few months.
“We hope that through his involvement with Pink Vail, he’s been able to find some comfort in helping others cope with the disease,” said Margaret Brammer with the Shaw Regional Cancer Center. “Because of his passion for skiing, we thought Pink Vail would be a great way for him to get involved, share our message with his fans and represent the voice of those you don’t readily consider when it comes to cancer — the family.”
Broby says he’s learned a lot through the process of watching his father suffer through his battle with cancer.
“You just look at everyday life differently,” he said. “You learn to respect people more and put yourself in their shoes, your perspective on the little things changes.”
Brammer says when Broby approached the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in the fall, they could see he was interested in getting involved and supporting the cancer center where his father was receiving treatment.
“Unfortunately, most of us have a story about cancer. For Broby, his is incredibly personal,” Brammer said. “Broby spoke candidly and generously about his family’s journey and through his words, people have been able to connect to the reasons why the funds raised through Pink Vail are so invaluable.”
Broby’s looking forward to getting his family and friends together in honor of his dad on Saturday at Pink Vail. He has already raised more than $4,000 and wants to keep it going for this year and beyond. Visit his page at pinkvail.com/brobyleeds.
‘WANT IT EVEN MORE’
In addition to his busy schedule on the competition circuit and his fundraising efforts, Broby, 20, attends Westminster College in the fall semesters and takes classes online during the spring semester. It’s not easy trying to compete at the top level and earn a degree and try to be a normal college student. The World University Games in Spain in February were supposed to be a chance for Leeds to connect with other college students in his same situation.
“It was really interesting meeting everyone. I never really get to hang out with college students from around the world,” he said.
The sad news of his father’s death cut short some of that fun for Leeds.
“But I’m just trying to take the best outlook I can on it,” he said. “It’s hard at times, for sure … but it’s kind of a motivator, in a way, with school and skiing. I feel obligated to put more effort into everything I’m doing, because now I’m doing it for my dad.”
One of Leeds’ biggest dreams has always been to make it to the X Games.
“I was a couple people short of qualifying for that event this year,” he said. “It was always my main goal to make it there. … Now that my dad is not going to be there, I want to make it even more, just to prove to myself I would have been able to.”
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