Shining Stars Foundation Provides Outdoor Social + Recreational Experiences to Children Battling Life Threatening Illnesses 

Our community has an inspirational history of banding together to love and care for those in need. From the overwhelming response providing for and supporting victims of the East Troublesome Fire to events to raise funds for those who've lost someone too soon to the grassroots Grand County Outbreak of Kindness movement, Grand County truly is "Grand County Strong." And the Grand County-based Shining Stars Foundation is yet another example of how our community is committed to building people up and breathing life into the most challenging circumstances. 

The Shining Stars Foundation got its start in 2001 with an intentional, innovative goal: providing year-round programming and support to pediatric cancer patients (and children battling other life-threatening illnesses). Their model is unique in that they offer more than just a one-time experience. They are a lifetime of support for both patients and their families. Shining Stars recognizes what a world-rocking experience a child being diagnosed with cancer is - the entire family faces overwhelming emotional and social trauma. The illness and its treatments can steal their hope and quality of life. Enter the Shining Stars Foundation: they exists to provide patients and their families with experiences that give them hope and the ability to live a life that didn't think possible. 


The foundation is unique in that it provides services for patients and their immediate families, for as many years as the family needs it, regardless of whether they are in diagnosis, treatment, remission, or relapse. Services and programs are offered at zero cost to the family. Without a brick and mortar location to host events, they believe in the power of harnessing community  locales for activities and avoiding a dedicated facility as they believe they're "Shining Stars" spend plenty of their time in a building and thrive with outdoor recreational opportunities. 


In order to support families year-round, Shining Stars offers a big variety of programs and services, and they have a full calendar of "staple" events each year: 

Aspen Winter Games: An eight-day adaptive snowboard and ski recreation program held every year for over 250 participants, including children, their medical team, instructors, and volunteers. In addition to skiing (with adaptive one-on-one lessons at the ready), kids live it up with dance parties, music lessons, movie nights, swimming, campfires, snowmobiling, yoga, crafts, and games. The goal is to empower each child and give them a sense of hope by pushing them to accomplish things on the mountain that they never thought possible. Each child learns to focus on all that they can do, rather than their limitations.

Aspen Summer AdventureA dynamic, week-long program for children ages 8-14. The program is designed to foster new relationships between participants, while giving them challenging and unique experiences. Activities include rock climbing, rappelling, outdoor education, team building activities, rafting, therapeutic arts & crafts, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, challenge courses, and more. The "Shining Stars" learn to believe in themselves and their ability to accomplish great things despite their challenges. And the life-long friendships with kids who know exactly what they are going through is an immeasurable gift!

Grand County Family Adventure: A 5-day summertime adventure right here in the heart of Grand County! Through the generous support of the Grand Foundation, participants establish a network of other families who face similar challenges, families are given the chance to live outside of their troubles for a week. Boating on one of our mountain lakes, hiking through the miles of trails, rafting down a local river, horseback riding at the YMCA, fishing our lakes and rivers, enjoying the base activities at Winter Park Resort, and zip lining are just a few of the Grand County activities families get to take advantage of during this program has become one of Shining Stars' largest: they serve over 250 children and family members in this gift of a place we call home. 

Single-Day Family Events: Throughout the year, the Foundation hosts single day events. Think zoo days, Rockies games, holiday parties, concerts, and monster trucks! 

Shining Stars All-Stars: A retreat and mentorship program for young adult pediatric cancer patients. that provides tools and support to successfully transition into adulthood and thrive with outdoor adventures during the day and targeted group team-building activities in the evening. Young adults are then matched with a year-long mentor to support them as they transition into adulthood. 


Since its inception in 2001, the Shining Stars Foundation has served over 1,000 families. Each year, they provide services for over 80 new families as they continue to provide programming for existing families. With close to 400 volunteers and over 60 programs and events annually, the foundation has provided support to children and families from 23 States and over 260 towns. While they're based in the Rockies, they cast the net wide to give every child and family battling life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to play in the mountains of Colorado. 


With their outdoor social and recreational opportunities, "attitudes transform, spirits come alive, hope is ignited, and lives forever change." If that isn't a cause worth getting on board with, we don't know what is! So if you're wondering how to support the Shining Stars Foundation, there is no shortage of opportunity. 

Sign up for the Byers Peak Stampede, a 5K or half marathon held each August right here in Fraser, become a corporate sponsor, attend the Starry Night Galaraise support with a personal or group athletic goal, volunteer, or give financially

It's easy to love a place full of people that care so well (and selflessly) for others - the Shining Stars Foundation is a picture of how community-minded the Fraser Valley is. We're grateful to live in a place so full of love, kindness, and support of those in need. 

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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