Tahoe ski patrollers rally support for Amy Holland, a ‘powerhouse with the fiercest determination’ diagnosed with brain cancer
HOW TO HELP
WHAT: “Huck it for Holland” fundraiser
WHY: To assist local ski patroller Amy Holland with medical bills
WHEN: 5 p.m. today
WHERE: PlumpJack, 920 Squaw Valley Inn, Olympic Valley
INFO: Search “Amy’s Marathon to Fight Brain Cancer” at GoFundMe.com
As a veteran ski patroller at Squaw Valley and Kirkwood, a marathon runner and once a Freeskiing World Tour competitor, 43-year-old Amy Holland was gearing up for her next adventure: pursuing a career in nursing.
But while training over the summer, friends of Holland said something wasn’t right.
“Something was going on all summer,” said Holland’s roommate Aimee Doran. She said Holland began experiencing numbness in her foot, but was still able to complete the San Francisco Marathon and the Truckee Marathon.
“Her motor skills were worsening which was our first sign that something was seriously wrong,” said Doran. A month ago Holland collapsed at home while making dinner and was taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital, where she received a CT scan that revealed a mass on her brain.
She was immediately rushed to Renown Hospital in Reno where she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. After enduring hours of surgery, Holland remained in the hospital for over two weeks and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
“Amy has a long road to recovery ahead of her,” said Mikki Zuiches, a close friend of Holland. Zuiches said Holland is paralyzed on the right side of her body and experiencing significant speech difficulties. She will work through in-patient rehabilitation for the next several weeks.
“She just got into nursing school right before her diagnosis,” said Doran. “The nurses love her because she has all this background; she’s the perfect patient.”
However, she added, “Every night in the hospital was so much money.”
A LOT OF HELP FROM HER FRIENDS
Zuiches has since set up a GoFundMe account to help Holland pay for medical expenses, household bills and rent. The campaign has already raised over $69,000.
She has also organized a fundraising event “Huck it for Holland” set for 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at PlumpJack in the Squaw Valley Village.
Zuiches said they have collected over 100 donations in raffle and silent auction prizes. There will be free appetizers and drinks for sale with 100 percent of the proceeds from the entire event going to Holland.
After serving as a ski patroller at Kirkwood for nearly 10 years, according to Doran, Holland was now entering her sixth season as a patroller at Squaw Valley.
“Patrolling is such a thankless job. They’re up there so early risking their lives,” said Doran. “Driving around is dangerous, being a patroller is dangerous. Out of all those things to bring her down it’s brain cancer. It’s just awful,” she said.
Since learning of her diagnosis, Doran said Holland’s ski patrol family is coming together to give her the support she needs. “The patrol family is a really tight knit group,” said Doran.
Zuiches, whose husband once worked with Holland at Squaw Valley, said having the support of the ski patrol family “makes all the tough things survivable.”
Zuiches and Holland met through the network of ski patrollers and also ran and trained together.
“One day you’re running 14 miles with a good friend and the next day she’s in the hospital with brain cancer,” said Zuiches. However, she stressed that her friend is not a statistic but a “powerhouse with the fiercest determination.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.