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CU Cancer Center is Taking a Leap for a Cure

CU Cancer Center is Taking a Leap for a Cure

Members of CU Cancer Center are coming together to help raise money for cancer research while going Over the Edge with Cancer League of Colorado.

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Written by Cancer Center on July 14, 2020

While runs and galas that raise money for many different causes have been affected by COVID-19 there is one fundraising event that is made for social distancing, rappelling down a building. The Over the Edge event by the Cancer League of Colorado (CLC) is doing just that while raising money for Colorado based cancer research.

Cancer League of Colorado’s mission is to secure the cure or control of cancer by raising funds to support innovative cancer research and cancer-related services in the state of Colorado. It is a non-profit company that has more than 400 volunteer members who share the commitment to fight cancer and support cancer research. Since 1985, Cancer League has raised and dispensed nearly $20 million to support Colorado research, patient care and family programs.

In 2019, 192 participants joined the Over the Edge event rappelling 39 stories from the Hyatt roof. This year, they are raising the bar and ten University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center employees or members, and one son, are rappelling 44 stories along with hopefully many community members. Cancer League of Colorado’s goal for fundraising this year is $500,000.

CU Cancer Center Deputy Director, James DeGregori, PhD, has been participating in the Over the Edge event for the past two years. This year, he made a push for others at the CU Cancer Center to join him to raise funds for cancer research.

Learn about what inspired each team member to join in leaping off a building the weekend of September 11.

Richard Schulick, MD, MBA

Director, CU Cancer Center


I decided to participate because my team and I are “leaping for the cure.” When we attack a problem as deadly and debilitating as cancer, we have to consider going “over the edge.” In 2020 it is estimated that there will be 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with a new cancer and 600,000 deaths. My team and I work at the University of Colorado Cancer Center which has 273 members across three university campuses including the Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University.

We also have members at the University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Colorado and the VA Medical Center. We are passionate about our efforts to “prevent and conquer cancer – Together” (our vision) and in “Uniting our community to overcome cancer through innovation, discovery, prevention, early detection, multidisciplinary care, and education” (our mission). We will jump off of any building required to achieve this.

James DeGregori, PhD

Deputy Director, CU Cancer Center


By now you know that the Cancer League of Colorado is a MAJOR supporter of cancer research for our cancer center and for Colorado. In previous years, I’ve faced my fears and rappelled off some Denver skyscraper to help raise funds for the CLC. I’m not doing this for fun (I’m terrified of building edges; seriously), but those with cancer don’t have a choice. So, I’m facing my fears to raise money to help them with their battle. And this year, there are a bunch of Cancer Center leaders and members who will be joining us as part of a team.

The CLC has been HUGE for our Cancer Center, providing over a million dollars each year for cancer research. Imagine where we would be without them. Every dime donated goes to cancer research in Colorado, as they are 100% volunteer based. Yep, zero overhead. 

Chris Lieu, MD

Associate Director, Clinical Research


The Cancer League of Colorado funds and provides resources to drive innovative and exciting cancer research. All funds that the Cancer League of Colorado raises stays here in the state of Colorado to directly impact the people living in our state!

This is without question the most exciting time we have ever seen in the prevention, detection and treatment for cancer. Tests and treatments that we could only dream of are now being used to impact our patients in incredible ways, including the use of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Now is the time to fund the research that will dramatically change the way we think about and treat this deadly disease.

Our patients show us amazing courage, bravery and strength every day, but they deserve better and more effective ways to detect and treat their cancers.

Heide Ford, PhD and her son Erik Jedlicka

Associate Director, Basic Research


Despite my incredible fear of rappelling down a 44-foot story building, I am going “Over the Edge” on behalf of the Cancer League of Colorado (CLC). Joining me (both to support the cause and to support my fears), will be my older son, Erik. Supporting the CLC is important to me for a number of reasons. First, the CLC has provided critical funds to many researchers in the state of Colorado to enable investigators to obtain data required for securing large grants from the government; grants that are needed if we are to research both basic and translational mechanisms of all types of cancers in an effort to move towards cures.

Secondly, the CLC supports all aspects of the cancer mission: funding goes towards training students to become cancer biologists, supporting basic and translational research, and supporting clinical trials; all which are critical as we continue our fight against this disease. This organization is 100% volunteer, and all money raised goes to the cause of cancer. I know almost all of us have been touched by cancer. I am dedicating this to my father, Fred Ford, who died of esophageal cancer only two months before Erik was born. With continued research, I hope in the future we can avoid such scenarios….

Kaiah Fields

Graduate Student


We are all affected by cancer in some capacity. Personally, I lost my grandmother, Kathryn Haning (pictured on the right), to colon cancer before I had the chance to meet her. As a PhD student at CU Anschutz finishing my first year, I have only just begun my path down cancer research in Dr. Heide Ford’s lab, but over time I hope to make at least a small contribution to our ability to treat this complex group of diseases.

I want to fully commit to a career in cancer research, and at times this will require stepping outside my comfort zone (like rappelling down tall buildings). I am grateful the Cancer League of Colorado facilitates the Over the Edge fundraiser year after year, and for the opportunity to participate with the CU Cancer Center team this year. Lots of great work has already been done, but we have lots of work left to do. Here’s to better cancer prevention, detection and treatment for our loved ones.

Stephen (Connor) Purdy

Graduate Student


I am a current Cancer Biology PhD student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. This will be my first time supporting the Cancer League of Colorado, but likely will not be the last! The CLC supports cancer research which allows us to help improve treatments for life-threatening cancers. I am dedicating this to both of my grandmothers, who have passed away from cancer, and my mother who is a breast cancer survivor!

This is a great opportunity to help support cancer research, as well as allows me to watch my terrified boss, Dr. Heide Ford, rappel down a building!

Connor Hughes

Graduate Student


As with many, cancer has impacted my family and many close to me. As an MD/PhD student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, I am committed to a career in translational research and in helping patients combat disease, both in the clinic and laboratory. As a graduate student in Heide Ford’s lab, studying cancer and trying to discover and test novel anti-cancer therapies has become a passion of mine. In the clinical setting, I have spent time working directly with oncologists in the CU Cancer Center and have been touched by my experiences getting to know cancer patients and survivors.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to join the CU Cancer Center team and to support the Cancer League of Colorado in the Over the Edge fundraiser this year! The work of the CLC helps to support cancer research and cancer patient services in this great state of Colorado. I am facing my fear of heights and going Over the Edge this year in honor of my wonderful grandmother, Anne Pocquat, who I lost to cancer too soon. Together we can take down this terrible disease!

Jason Quinn, MBA, MHA

Assistant Director, Operations


When my family and I decided to leave Utah and come to Colorado, a major reason was the fact that I would be working for the CU Cancer Center. Health care administrative work, at times, can feel a bit meaningless. While we are critical to the day to day operations of some of the most remarkable institutions in the world, we are not the one’s savings lives, we are not the ones researching cures, and we are not the ones on the front lines of providing our patients the best care possible. Throughout my career, I have struggled with this idea of how do I make a difference by means of my work? So, I promised myself that when I got to Colorado and started working for the cancer center, I would participate in every way possible to support those that are saving lives, researching cures, and on the front lines of providing healthcare to our incredible and brave patients.

One month into my new job at the CU Cancer Center during an Executive Committee meeting James DeGregori asked who all would do Over the Edge with him this year to support the incredible mission of The Cancer League of Colorado. I was extremely hesitant as I loathe heights, but I thought back to how I wanted to participate and without another thought, I threw my hat in the ring. Once the first domino fell, a bunch of the leadership jumped on board and now, for better or worse, we’re all going Over the Edge for cancer research! 

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer, I’m pretty sure that sentiment is true worldwide at this point. My Aunt Kathy Quinn was taken way too early from cancer over a year ago. She had been treated in Colorado even though she lived in Wyoming and she spoke so highly of the care she received here. My Grandpa John Quinn passed away relatively young as well from cancer, so my family is no stranger to the pain of losing loved ones far sooner than we should due to cancer. The only way I know how to help is to support those that are trying to prevent others from feeling that pain, and for me, that means supporting the University of Colorado Cancer Center as much as I can, by participating.

Marshall Ward, CPA

Assistant Director, Finance


I’m participating in this event because I watched my aunt battle breast cancer three times before she lost the fight. I remember watching my grandmother lose a child to cancer and that is something I’ll never forget.

When I had the opportunity to participate in this event as part the University of Colorado Cancer Center, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!

If all I need to do is fall off a building to help raise funds for the Cancer League of Colorado, sign me up!

Jessica Cordova

Assistant Director, Communications and Marketing


My goal in participating in the CLC Over the Edge event is to raise money for cancer research in hopes to give families, friends and loved ones more time after a cancer diagnosis. My mom passed away in December 2019 from Melanoma skin cancer. She was diagnosed in October 2018 and given a short period to live but thanks to a clinical trial at Penn University she was able to be with us for just over a year.

I am so thankful for that last year, with that clinical trial my mom was able to be present for my wedding day, we were able to do a trip to New York with my two sisters and I was able to see her multiple times in Pennsylvania, where she lived. When I was asked to join the team, I did not think about it twice, I want to do everything I can to help the future of cancer research.

Join the Event

If you are interested in donating to the CU Cancer Center team, please head over to our team website. Do you want to rappel for research? Learn about how to join and while you are at it be like DeGregori and convince your friends and coworkers to make a team with you. 

Topics: Philanthropy