As Nancy Ferro watched her son Michael go through cancer treatment, she was surprised to find that, at 23, he was by far the youngest person at his support groups. After his recovery, Michael went on a kayaking trip with First Descents , a Denver-based nonprofit that sends young-adult cancer survivors on adventure trips together. Nancy saw that the excursion and camaraderie amongst survivors in his age group significantly lifted her son's spirits, and she sought a way to pay it forward.
With First Descents as inspiration, Nancy, along with a friend she met while volunteering for First Descents, founded Epic Experience . Their organization sets up free, weeklong camps in Colorado for adults who have been affected by cancer. The camps are set on the sprawling, scenic 7W Ranch in Sweetwater—about 40 miles west of Vail—and each host 13 attendees, all of whom are cancer survivors or in the midst of cancer treatment (Nancy is also planning a camp in October for caregivers of past attendees). The retreats aim to create bonds amongst the cohort through their exhilarating outdoor activities. At Epic Experience’s inaugural camp in February, guests cross-country skied and showshoed. During camps this summer, visitors can expect stand-up paddleboarding, horseback riding, and white-water kayaking.
Get Involved: Volunteer to assist with general tasks—such as kitchen help, photography, or safety supervision—at the next camp, scheduled for June 23-29 (volunteers must be at least 18 years old). If you’re qualified, Epic Experience also looks for specialized volunteers like physicians, nurses, massage therapists, yoga instructors, and chefs. Can’t make it in June? Six more camps are lined up through October .
Bonus: Look for fundraisers, including a golf tournament and Soap Box Derby, later this year. You can also support Epic Experience with an Epic Challenge : Set a fundraising goal and collect pledges as you perform any type of challenge, whether it’s a triathlon or a bake-off. For every $2,000 raised, one person can go to an Epic Experience camp.
—Image courtesy of Nancy Ferro