A lot people have a cause that they donate to, whether it be money or their time. It is always an organization whose goals match their convictions or beliefs. Things aren’t much different for the owners and staff here at our dude ranch, Colorado Trails.

Our belief is in families and the importance of being close and sharing wonderful memories together. It is always our goal to make every family’s stay here a time they will remember fondly, truly enjoy and be a week that is impossible to find somewhere else. Over the 2011 season, the guest ranch donated a week long all inclusive family vacation’s gift to the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.

If there is a time when having fun together and creating truly awesome memories is most valuable, it is when a family is caught in the grips of dealing with a terminal disease. Our dude ranch manager, Jeanne Ross, selected donating a vacation to the Jack & Jill Foundation for this reason. She knew that it would give the family they chose to send a break from their upside down lives and a chance to reconnect again.  Our Jeanne is one smart gal, and her choice made a huge difference in the lives of a family with teenagers whose mother is given only months to live.

Rather than dealing with the never ending whirl of testing, doctors appointments, trips to the pharmacy and the ups and downs between hope and fear, they experienced a week as a real family again. There really is nothing like a family vacation at our dude ranch to restore this sense of wholeness, even for those who face such a battle.

Our special guest learned she had terminal brain cancer and had 12-15 months to live just 18 months before they came to stay with us. We are thrilled that their visit was so special to this woman, her husband and their children. Here’s an excerpt from the thank you letter she sent to Heidi Cohen, the Executive Director of the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.

“From riding horses, learning to fly fish, hiking & picnicking around the beautiful Spud Lake, mountain climbing, touring the Mesa Verde national park, square dancing to just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, the week will forever be sealed in our hearts as a time of respite in an otherwise tumultuous summer; 2 craniotomies, 8 weeks on IV antibiotics to fight off a brain infection and meningitis, repairing a cerebral spinal fluid leak and plastic surgery for scalp reconstruction on top of the cancer battle. This was supposed to be my quiet summer at home with all the kids and instead a few bad scans changed that and all I did was go to the hospital or doctor with the exception of our week at The Colorado Trails Ranch. Thank you for that special time…


With heartfelt thanks, we are forever grateful to all those that make trips like ours possible. Life is truly full of angels here on earth and we are thankful for those angels that were led to give to Jack & Jill so that families like ours can make memories, laughing, smiling and hugging each other when at times we find it hard just to breathe and process the reality of our situation.”

That right there is worth so much more than any donation, no matter how great it’s monetary value. We are so honored to know that we met the goal that fueled Jeanne’s reasoning behind this special donation. This isn’t something we do regularly, give away all inclusive family vacations. It is just one more memory in the history of our dude ranch that makes it continually more important to us. Jeanne has collected so many memories over the years herself. It’s one of the reasons she arrived as a newbie staff member one of the first years we were open for business, and has never left.