For so many families at Courage Classic, being courageous means biking dozens of miles – some for the first time, some for the hundredth time – to ride in honor or memory of a precious child. These families ride in support of Children’s Hospital Colorado and the caregivers who have meant so much to them throughout their medical journeys. Often, Courage Classic becomes a yearly tradition that brings them together to reflect on the past and hope for a better future, not only for their children, but for all children. With each pedal of the wheel, many of them turn uncertainty and grief into hope and action. The Reeds are one of the families for whom Courage Classic has become a tradition, full of significance and optimism that, one day, a cure will be found for the disease that took their daughter, Kenna.
“We’ve already got the 2018 date on the calendar,” Amy Reed said and laughed. She is one of the captains of Kenna’s Crew and the mother of Kenna, the little girl who inspired the formation of the team 12 years ago.
At 3 months old, Kenna went to Children’s Hospital Colorado for interstitial lung disease, which caused difficulty breathing as the air sacs in her lungs were malformed. Despite heroic efforts by her doctors, nurses, and therapists at Children’s Colorado, Kenna passed away before she was 8 months old.
To remember Kenna and to support the kind of care she received at Children’s Colorado, every year Amy’s extended family comes together as Kenna’s Crew for Courage Classic. The team ranges in age from 4 to 74 years old from all across the country. Together, they have raised more than $100,000 for Children’s Colorado since 2006.
Each family member has found their own unique way to contribute to Courage Classic, the hospital’s largest gathering of people coming together to supporting Children’s Colorado. Amy’s father, Bob Easterly, volunteers as one of the event’s amateur “ham” radio operators, who use radio frequency to communicate between riders and event organizers along parts of the route that don’t have cell coverage. He originally got his license to communicate on his sailboat, but now mostly uses it at Courage Classic. Being with his family and remembering Kenna makes Courage Classic one of his favorite weekends of the year.
“Everybody is really pumped up at Courage Classic,” Bob said. “They have to get up that mountain, but they’re riding for a purpose. That energizes everyone. It’s an uplifting experience.”
During the difficult months when Kenna was sick, the family became close with the staff at Children’s Colorado, particularly Dr. Robin Deterding, director of the Children’s Breathing Institute. Dr. Deterding received the Ed and Roxanne Fie Anderson Endowed Chair for Breathing to continue innovating treatments and improve outcomes for kids with lung diseases. She is examining some of the fluids biopsied from Kenna’s lungs to research interstitial lung disease.
The family trusts and believes that Dr. Deterding and her team can find a cure for this terrible disease, if given enough resources. This is what brings them back to Courage Classic every year.
“I just hope Courage Classic goes on for a long, long time because it’s such a super way to support the hospital. We’re in it for a lifetime,” Bob said.