The Durango Derailers. What started out as a way to say thank you has turned into an invaluable service to defray travel costs for families with children who need out-of-town medical treatments. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank
Hi, I'm Beth Drum, and I am a proud employee owner at Alpine Bank. Giving back to the community is one of Alpine bank's core values, as it is with the many nonprofits that serve our community. We invite you to meet some of these change makers as part of our series "Community Matters."
One of the disadvantages of living in Southwest Colorado are the distances that families often have to travel at great expense to seek specialized pediatric care for their sick children. La Plata County resident, Laura Shelton, knows the situation well.
12 years ago, we had a premature baby unexpectedly and were life flighted out to the Denver area for care and spent about 10 weeks in the the neonatal intensive care unit. By the grace of God, had Dr. Kelly Miller is our pediatrician and, you know, had a lot of specialists coming and going. And, you know, you don't have a time to plan when something like that happens and you're not really sure where to go or what to do. And so really just having that support of knowing that your hometown has your back and knows that that's what your child needs, and even ongoing, he had six specialists ongoing for a very long time. So if there was a period of time, we were up there about every 90 to 120 days. And, you know, for a family like ours, it was about $1,000 to $1,500 a weekend, just depending on how long you had to stay. Was it a Friday and a Monday? Or, you know, trying to coordinate the care time so you could still get back to work.
The Shelton family received financial help with travel expenses from the Children's Hospital Foundation. And Laura has been raising funds for the travel program as part of team Durango Derailers. And now, the group is establishing its own travel fund through the community foundation serving Southwest Colorado to benefit local families who seek care outside the Children's Hospital network. The Durango Derailers evolved out of fundraising efforts that started 16 years ago when Doug and Kelly Miller's daughter was born with a heart defect. Hannah had to be flown immediately to Denver for heart surgery. And while her daughter received treatment at Children's, Miller, a pediatric doctor herself, learned about the Courage Ride benefiting the hospital's foundation.
Wow, there's this really fun ride called the Courage Classic that's up at Summit County, and we'd love to ride for her and then can give back to Children's Hospital because you know, they saved her life with heart surgeries. And so we started doing it. We were originally Team Hannah, which basically was myself and my family and a couple close friends, and we kept doing it. And our team got bigger and bigger, and being in Durango, having tons of cyclists around us, we grew, and we grew and we grew. And so after a couple of years, this was started in 2007 as Team Hannah. We quickly evolved to a big team called Team Durango Derailers, and we recruited sponsors and we recruited more riders, and went to over 100 riders, started making over $50,000 a year, and started to shift into what is now Team Durango Derailers, and have the funds here to help our home community.
Although team Durango Derailers continues to participate in the Children's Hospital event, It also sponsors its own fundraisers for the local travel program. Five years ago, the group started Durango Derailers Climb for Kids as part of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. The Bicycle Classic offers free entry into any of its race events for a minimum donation of $300. This past year, the race generated $40,000 in donations. The group also partners with "Dancing with the Durango Stars." Over the years, the all volunteer nonprofit has raised nearly a million dollars and helped defray costs for nearly 2,000 trips for families with sick children.
It's not financially qualified, so it's not like a family needs to give us any records. If they are going somewhere with their child it is a strain. Whether it's financial or not, you are missing work, you are emotionally distraught, it is hard. And insurance will cover medical. We are there to try to pick up the rest with what it takes to get there from a, we can't really do airlines at this point, but we can give you gas cards. And we certainly have access to other resources to help families who may need more than lodging, help, or gas help as well.
You know, they can really reach to us for whatever the need is. And not only do we serve the maybe ongoing chronic, but we also serve the trauma too. You know, the people who have experienced an accident, and they're being life flighted out. And sometimes you don't get a choice of where you're headed. You know, you're sent to where, you know, you're best served. So, you know, sometimes we have to say no to those families, and this is going to be really great that we can expand and say, wherever you're headed, just call us, we have you taken care of
Both Miller and Shelton say you don't have to ride a bike to support Durango Derailers. It has plenty of other opportunities for volunteers.
We truly are just a village of people pulling together and just getting it done.
Thanks for watching this edition of "Community Matters" brought to you by Alpine Bank and the Local News Network. I'm Hannah Robertson.