Couple gives back to Huntsman Institute, research facilities, through Pink Park City
On the first day Park City Mountain Resort opened the Supercondor Lift last season, Deb Gott bootpacked to the top of Murdock’s Peak. It was quiet, with nobody else around.
The silence wouldn’t last.
She took a deep breath.
“(Expletive) you, cancer!” the 68 year-old yelled in her Maine accent down the mountain.
She and her husband, Ken, had both been diagnosed with cancer within a few weeks of each other.
Deb was told she had leukemia last fall, then Ken found out he had pancreatic cancer less than a month after.
Instead of opting for care from one of the medical organizations in New England, Deb chose to be treated at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. She said it was the right decision.
The cancer research and treatment center gave her a degree of control she said set it apart from other organizations, and allowed her to be close to her children and grandchildren in Utah.
Over last Winter, the Huntsman Institute and Utah’s skiing helped keep Gott healthy and hopeful. So much so that when she heard about the fundraiser Pink Park City – a day of skiing at Park City Mountain that raises money for all types of cancer research – giving back was a no-brainer.
“I need to be physical; I need to ski,” said Gott, who owns Interiors with Provenance, a Kamas antique store. “It keeps my soul going.”
She continued to ski while she and her husband were in treatment, and she got some 40 days on the mountain in while balancing two lives in turmoil.
“He was amazing,” Gott said of March. “He really was. You should have seen him when he hiked every day. … He couldn’t even stand up, I was picking him up off the floor; this big man, this dead weight, but he was out there walking every day. So we made a deal. I took care of him last year, so he owes me 12 years.
“Reasonable, don’t you think?”
She said that over the season – which marks what she estimates is a decade skiing in Utah while splitting time in the area between their home near Kennebunkport, Maine, – she found kindred spirits to ski with like she had never had before.
“I want to bootpack, I want to backcountry – and I’m old, so I’m a little slow, but I can do anything,” Gott, 68, said. “But for some reason, these two women dropped into my life who were real powerhouses, and they’d call me once a week or so and say ‘Come on. Let’s go skiing.’ I called them my snow angels.
“They kept my spirits up so I could take good care of my husband.”
She felt that skiing and the Huntsman Institute had given her so much, that when she heard about Pink Park City, she felt it would be a joy to help the fundraiser put on its inaugural event on March 24.
She, her husband, and their extended families were the event’s leading donors.
The Marches and Gotts accounted for 16 of the 150 participants, from age 4 to 73 – three generations of the family skied together.
“We just have a load of grandkids. They really have to stop reproducing,” Gott said with a laugh.
All told, Pink Park City raised more than $80,000 for cancer research during its inaugural run, a sum that was distributed to organizations like the Huntsman Institute and other research facilities.
And Pink Park City is hoping to expand.
The second time around, on March 23, 2019, organizers hope to raise $150,000 for cancer research through the event, and bring 600 to Park City Mountain to contribute and take in deck parties challenges, giveaways, live music and a ski parade.
Registration for the event opened on Dec. 5, and is available online at PinkParkCity.org.
Gott’s decision to get involved, after she and her husband had fared so well thanks to the Huntsman Institute – Gott said there is a chance she is cured, and March is doing well – was more of a calling than a choice.
“I’m old,” she said. “I’m 68, my husband is 73, so (stuff’s) going to happen. And that’s OK, we’ll fight our battle, but when you see young people who are sick, you have to give back. You don’t even have a moral choice. And believe me I’ve never done much for anybody else, so it’s about time.”
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.