Cardiac Climbers put their heart into ride

Cardiac Climbers, Courage Classic

Each year, Courage Classic riders put their whole heart into pedaling for a purpose – but for one team, this holds particularly true.

Members of the Cardiac Climbers, a team of nurses, doctors and staff from the Heart Institute, as well as parents and friends of patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado, ride to help children suffering from cardiac problems.

This year, the team will summit a large hill – both literally and figuratively – reaching a monumental mark in their collective journey by raising more than $1 million over the course of the group’s involvement with the tour.

Started by the parent of a cardiac patient twelve years ago, the team has grown throughout the years. For the last four years, there have been around 120 riders on the team.

This two-day bike race, held at Copper Mountain July 23-24, is no easy task. However, cardiac nurse and Cardiac Climbers team captain, Denise Walden, has helped her group realize the benefits - both on the road and off – of riding together as a team. Denise has been riding for seven years and has served as team captain for five. Since her start, Denise has helped lead the team in tripling the amount of money they’ve raised and the team has dedicated their rides to over 300 patients.

“I feel like this event and team really helps create a sense of community,” said Denise. “Our working relationships are strengthened, our teamwork is enhanced, and our relationships with our families are also boosted.”

Each Cardiac Climber team rider dedicates their ride to a patient who holds a special place in their heart. For most hospital team members, they ride for a child who has been a patient of theirs. For other riders, they may pledge their ride in honor of a family member who received treatment at Children’s Colorado.  

This year, Denise is riding for a very special patient, Jack.

Jack was born with transposition of the great vessels. In other words, the plumbing in his heart was backward, and he had a hole in his heart. At just 3 months old, Jack underwent two major open heart surgeries and had another at the age of 2. Since then, he has had many cardiac catheterizations and two pacemaker placements.

“Despite all of his cardiac problems, he has always remained positive,” said Denise.

Every year, the Cardiac Climbers invite their families and friends up to Copper Mountain to help cheer their team across the finish line at the event. The cheerleaders are encouraged to bring posters and cowbells, and after it’s all over, they celebrate with a big barbeque. Last year, they had more than 80 supporters rooting them on.   

This year’s celebration at the finish line will be extra special knowing they have raised more than $1 million to help those closest to their heart. Thank you to the Cardiac Climbers and all who have helped them grow along the way!

Learn more about the Cardiac Climbers.