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Another Inspiriational Message

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chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Teen cancer survivor goes distance for others
Cycling event raises $1.7 million for Children's Hospital

Ahmad Terry © News

Alyssa Morell, 15, of Highlands Ranch, hugs her brother Donny, 11, while talking to their mom on the phone Monday at the finish of the 2006 Children's Hospital Courage Classic, a three-day, 157-mile cycling event.STORY TOOLS
Email this story | Print By Michael Malik, Rocky Mountain News
July 25, 2006
LEADVILLE - Meaghan Cusack, of Littleton, was 10 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer in her right leg. She underwent eight months of chemotherapy and a tibia replacement before doctors said she was cancer free. She relapsed four months later. After more chemo, the doctors amputated her right leg. She was given a prosthetic limb that gave her the chance to become active again.
That was seven years ago.

On Monday, Cusack, a two-time cancer survivor, finished the 157-mile Courage Classic cycling event hosted by Children's Hospital for the second time.

The event has been held for the past 17 years to raise money for the hospital and various programs. This year, the total money raised will top $1.7 million. The event has resulted in $13.5 million since the event began in 1990, event officials said.

"Now I can do anything," Cusack said standing 50 feet from the finish line with a smile. "Last year, I volunteered and was standing here at the finish line and I was, like, I want to do that next year."

After her leg was amputated, Cusack became a brown belt in Tae Kwon Doe and participated in the color guard in high school. She hopes to continue to improve her biking skills while at the University of Colorado in the fall.

Two thousand riders participated in the three-day ride from Leadville to Summit County and back with the help of 700 volunteers.

Among those riders were 20 from Team Courage. The team is made up of current and former patients and their families and friends.

Team captain, Bob Walters, 49, has participated in the event each year its been held.

"My daughter was a patient at Children's," Walters said. "I'm not good at a lot of things, but I can ride my bike, and if I help them raise the money doing this, than that's great."

After the race, the riders had a chance to eat, enjoy some live music and swap stories.

Anisé Fletcher, 14, of Longmont rode with an unusual partner, a white Labrador named Boone. Fletcher and Boone are part of the Youth and Pet Survivors program. YAPS matches kids with cancer and dogs with cancer to be pen pals.

Fletcher finished about three years of chemotherapy to treat leukemia in June, exchanging e-mails with Boone throughout.

It was a special day for Fletcher and the three-legged dog, Fletcher said while stroking Boone's belly.

Leslie McKay, director of Special Events for the Children's Hospital Foundation, said the money will help pay for a new facility scheduled to open fall 2007 in Fitzsimons.

"It's a constant source of inspiration," McKay said about the event. "Thousands upon thousands of people are impacted by this event."

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