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Cranking up the volume on cancer awareness

Locations: News Published

Mark your calendars and grab a friend because you won’t want to miss the second annual Anna Lynn Cunningham Foundation (ALCF) benefit concert at the River Valley Ranch (RVR) driving range on Friday, July 22.

The gates open at 5:30 p.m. and locals’ favorite Shady Lane will take the stage before the Colorado-based group, Big Head Todd and the Monsters (BHTM), jam the night away. 

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“[BHTM has] a huge following locally, but their music is international,” Julie Warren, co-founder of ALCF said. “When we look at bands for this venue we look for a certain energy and excitement that people can dance and sing along to. It just matches what we’re trying to accomplish, which is just a lot of positive energy.”

Positivity is key to Warren and her husband, Red Cunningham, because it reminds them of their daughter, Anna Cunningham, who emanated a bright, positive demeanor despite her unimaginable reality.

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At the age of 13, Anna was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. She bravely fought the disease for 3 years before her passing in February 2019. 

“The whole time she was sick she was always positive and grateful that it wasn’t another kid fighting,” Warren said. 

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In 2020, Warren and Cunningham co-founded ALCF to honor Anna’s spirit and raise awareness and funding for other children with cancer.

“We started the foundation as a way to give back to organizations that supported us during her fight and to help other families who are going through pediatric cancer battles,” Warren shared. “It’s a way for us to keep her legacy alive, but to also support other people.” 

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The couple — who also operate Golf at RVR and the Homestead Bar and Grill — began brainstorming charity events that would bring the community together.

“When we took over the golf course in 2019, we saw the driving range [and envisioned] ways that the community can be more a part of it,” Warren explained. “It came to me that a concert out there would be really awesome and would align with the meaningfulness of this whole cause to us. We needed to go big.”

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And, indeed they did. In its first year, the event headlined Brett Dennen and raised over $50,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Camp Wapiyapi, and Brent’s Place — all organizations that support families battling pediatric cancer.

According to Warren, Camp Wapiyapi is a summer camp for children with cancer and their siblings to enjoy free of charge. The camp is almost entirely operated by volunteers.

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Brent’s Place, she continued, is a “housing facility in Denver near Children’s [Hospital Colorado] that allows families and their children who are ill…to stay for free in a clean and safe environment that is specially designed for kids with low immunity.”

Expressing gratitude for the organizations, Warren said, “This is what you discover when you enter this world that we don’t all know about, that there are these incredible heroes taking care of these families and kids.”

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This year, Warren said, proceeds from the concert will go to a Roaring Fork Valley child who is currently battling Osteosarcoma and to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in honor of a young girl who recently lost her battle to cancer and was an acquaintance of Anna.

Concert-goers can further support the cause with direct donations, or by purchasing food and drink on-site at “Food Truck Alley,” with eats from Gaijin Ramen House, The Rolling Fork and Slow Groovin BBQ.

Reflecting on the community’s enthusiastic feedback about last year’s inaugural event, Warren said, “It’s a lot of work, but we have a great production and a lot of supportive people who make it really professional. We’re really lucky to have so many talented people in this valley who help us put on the show.” 

“It’s a good feeling to take something really painful, really sad, and turn it into something positive,” she concluded. 

General admission and VIP ticket options for the ALCF benefit concert can be purchased at www.bit.ly/AnnaLynnConcert 

Warren added that kids 10 and under get in for free, but must be accompanied by an adult. Everyone is encouraged to ride their bicycles.

Visit www.alcfoundation.net to learn more about the foundation’s mission and Anna’s legacy.

Tags: #Anna Lynn Cunningham Foundation #Big Head Todd and the Monsters #Brent’s Place #Camp Wapiyapi #Children’s Hospital Foundation #river valley ranch
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