P.E.A.K.S. fundraiser benefits cancer patients

by nathan oster

For the fifth consecutive year, all roads in the P.E.A.K.S. to Conga fundraiser will lead to Shell, where on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, June 27 there will be a silent auction, food and drink and live music by the band, Beacon Hill.

P.E.A.K.S. is an acronym for People Everywhere are Kind and Sharing. The organization is an auxiliary of the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation. It exists to benefit cancer patients throughout the Big Horn Basin.

Laurie Parker, one of the organizers of the event, said that after expenses were paid, last year’s P.E.A.K.S. bicycle ride from Cody to Shell and the activities in Shell generated around $12,000. All of that has since been distributed back into the Big Horn Basin.

“We’ve been able to give a lot back,” she said. “This ride has become so reliably great, we now have our own Big Horn Basin account so that all the money we make, in its entirety, goes right back into the Big Horn Basin.”

One of the recipients of the organization’s helping hand was John Kunkel, a Greybull man whose cancer is now in remission but was once faced with the prospects of a five-day-a-week regimen of radiation treatments. In all, he had 39 of them.

Kunkel said he and others in the Big Horn Basin relied on a van service to get back and forth to the cancer center in Cody, but that there were some especially wintery days when the van didn’t run and he had to make the trip himself. With his daughter’s wedding coming up, he was beyond appreciative when P.E.A.K.S. provided a gas card to offset some of his travel expenses..

“It was unexpected, but very welcomed,” said Kunkel. “It took the edge off of some unexpected expenses.”

Kunkel said he believes in what PEAKS is doing. “Billings has a Relay for Life to raise cancer awareness and funds, but around here, PEAKS is huge — and as big as anything I know of when it comes to raising awareness and funding for cancer in the Big Horn Basin.”

The event has grown since its first year, when there were fewer than 20 riders who embarked from Cody. Last year there were 114 registered riders. As of Monday, about 80 had signed up for this year’s fully-supported, 68-mile ride on U.S. Highway 14. Riders leave at 7 a.m. from Absaroka Bicycles in Cody.

Parker said everyone in the community is invited to come out for the festivities at Shell Hall.

There will be food and beverages for sale, plus a silent auction starting at 7 p.m. and a 50/50 raffle.

Beacon Hill will play from 8 until 11:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 at the door for the music and silent auction.

“We’re looking forward to another great event,” said Parker. “We know there are a lot of riders who haven’t signed up yet. We are going to have a lot of newbies this year, people who heard it’s a good ride and are totally supportive of it.”

Parker added, “We have a good reputation — both for the quality of the ride and fun that we have afterwards in Shell.”

For more information or to register for the ride, go to svfoundation.org, call Parker (307-272-8766) or visit the Peaks to Conga Bicycle Ride page on Facebook.