"We create smiles. We renew spirits. We ignite hope."
This is the motto of the Shining Stars Foundation, who works to provide social and recreational programs to children and families faced with pediatric cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Shining Stars is unique because they aren't providing medical treatment, but organized activities that help get at the underlying issues of illness and helps the child live a happier more fulfilling life.
"We do about 50 to 60 programs per year. Some of these are one day programs and some are weeklong programs for the children," says Program Event Coordinator Rosemary White.
One of Shining Stars largest programs is Grand County Family Adventure, which brings around 250 people to Winter Park Resort for different events around the county like hiking, canoeing, and swimming. The Shining Stars Foundation provides programs at no cost to the families, thanks to the support of donors and volunteers.
"The whole county just really throws their arms around us and embraces us," says Director of Outreach Programs Cookie Reedie. "We receive so many in-kind donations of food and discounted lodging and it's just a very wonderful thing that this county does for us."
On this particular day, The Shining Stars Foundation, "Spin for the Stars" was underway, a spin-a-thon fundraiser at Mountain Life Fitness in Granby, Colorado. The cost of the class for each participant was then donated to Shining Stars to fund their children's programs.
"I think it kind of matches with our mission of pushing people to do what they thought they might not have been able to," explained White. "When I was taking the class I was thinking, 'Do it for the kids who can't.'"
Some families say cancer makes them feel "outside of everything." That people look at the family as though they are not normal. Program Event Coordinator Ryndi Zascho says, "When they come to our events, everybody has it, so nobody is looking at them like they're different. They just found like they've truly found their place."
Volunteers also find their place with the Shining Stars Foundation. They love helping the children and making a difference in their lives.