More than 2 dozen racers come out for Splash and Dash in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com
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More than 2 dozen racers come out for Splash and Dash in Steamboat

Sunday event funds melanoma research, prevention

Bennett Gamber runs toward the finish line of Sunday's Splash and Dash for Andy Caress event in Steamboat Springs. More than two dozen competitors took part in the event, which included a swim and a run, and raised money for melanoma research, awareness and prevention.
Joel Reichenberger

— The hard part is not the motivation, Bob Caress explained.

That comes as easily as his son’s smile had. It comes from the memory of Andy Caress, and the frustration with the disease that took him 10 months ago, melanoma.

It comes from comments by those who, inspired by Andy’s story, visited a doctor and discovered their own cancers early. It comes from the hundreds of friends Andy had at each stop he made in his life.

The hard part, Bob Caress explained, is the events themselves, which, thanks to Andy’s competitive, outdoors-loving nature, always seem to involve races.

“That was very hard,” Bob said, wincing in memory of the 5-kilometer run he ticked off Sunday as part of the second annual Splash and Dash for Andy Caress in Steamboat Springs.

The event raises money for the Andy Caress Melanoma Foundation, which funds melanoma research, awareness and prevention.

“We have a number of these kind of events for the foundation, so I have to keep in shape,” Bob Caress said with a laugh.

More than two dozen racers took to the two-part course on Sunday. Some completed both parts — adult racers swam 600 yards and ran 5K and children swam 400 yards and ran 1.5 miles. Others split the task between two racers.

“The running was the hardest part,” decided Annika Malacinski, 10.

She cut through the pool at the Old Town Hot Springs and then ran, in her swimsuit, up the lower section of the Spring Creek Trail, around Steamboat Springs High School to the finish line at Memorial Park, next to the school.

“It was tough because right after swimming you have a really big cramp,” she said. “It was tough, but I ran it all.”

Mike Chalmers was the fastest adult to tackle the challenge. Maddie Ruppel was tops among the women, but times and places were an afterthought. Plenty of attention was focused on Andy Caress, who lived in Steamboat and worked as a pro at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs before his diagnosis. Plenty also was focused on the cause he dedicated his final months to: skin cancer awareness.

Bob Caress said he finished a half-marathon in October with a group of Andy’s friends in Ohio. Other events await, including a 5K in Cincinnati, Caress’ hometown, and a race in Denver, where Caress also lived. The foundation will be present at the Western and Southern Open ATP tennis tournament in Cincinnati, which draws the world’s best players and hundreds of thousands of fans, with sunscreen and dermatologists.

Locally, the organization will have a hand in August’s Ride 4 Yellow event, yet again handing out sunscreen.

“This is our life’s work,” Bob Caress said. “We’re dedicated to creating awareness and helping prevention with these type of events.”

Handing out sunscreen at events large and small, at quiet swimming pools and busy tennis courts, that’s not hard to get motivated for, he said.

Spending a morning with his son’s friends, coming to Steamboat Springs, where Bob Caress said he still could feel his son’s spirit, none of that is hard.

Keeping alive the memory of Andy Caress and fighting for his causes is nothing like running a race at 6,700 feet.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com


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