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Share Your Heart Ball-‘They Do Everything to Make These Kids Feel Alive’
Tuesday, February 21, 2023


Devon Peterson donned riding chaps and a riding helmet Saturday afternoon as she raced her horse pulling a skier behind her in the Wood River Extreme Ski Joring competition held near Bellevue.

Then she donned a party dress and headed to her other passion—the glitzy Share your Heart Ball to raise funds to send kids with cancer to Camp Rainbow Gold.

“You do something for yourself, then you do for others,” said Peterson, now a 19-year-old Boise State University freshman and five years free of leukemia. “It felt so good to have my heart race in the ski joring competition, although it’s a little scary. It’s really difficult because you have to think about the horse’s well being and the skier—my mind was going everywhere.

“In 2016 I came to the ball as a patient—Camp Rainbow Gold gave so much to me as a camper and it was an amazing place. When I went, there were all these children with bald heads and scars, but they looked so happy. It was so wonderful meeting others in my situation who really understood the difficulties I was going through.”

About 450 supporters—many of them dressed in glitzy evening gowns—turned out at Sun Valley Resort’s Limelight Room to ensure that other children with cancer would continue to enjoy that same level of understanding at Camp Rainbow Gold.

In the spirit of camp, they played games, albeit adult ones including one in which they tossed rings around wine bottles and another in which they put up $100 for a heads-and-tails game to win a diamond tennis bracelet from Christopher & Co.

Hailey Police Chief Steve England, who has volunteered as a counselor at the camp, led the crowd in the camp’s Banana Split song, which involved making hand signs for words like slice, mush, dice and peel. And Sun Valley resident and former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Carson Palmer, who serves as an ambassador for the camp, juggled a mic and a football as he rallied bids for an auction lot in which he will play in a flag football game and tailgate party.

The fantasy football day hosted by Idaho Lumber owners Angi and Todd Hunter at their Three Broncs Ranch in Bellevue will begin with a live rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and a kick-off coin flip before four quarters of play for 16 people augmented by a surprise halftime show. Custom team jerseys designed by Davis Embroidery are included.

“This is a stellar organization from the top down. I could not be more honored,” said Palmer as his lot went for $14,500 twice.

Spirits ran high in what was the first Share Your Heart Ball since the COVID pandemic began. Diners noshed on brie and apple flatbread seasoned with honey, buffalo meatballs with soy sesame, Snake River Farms New York striploin and dessert dishes of Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote.

“It’s been long enough since the last one I had to sit down and remember how to dress,” said Gayle Stevenson, whose husband Al Stevenson was a longtime board member of Camp Rainbow Gold.

“In 2020 everything changed but we stayed true to our mission by creating a virtual camp,” the camp’s executive director Elizabeth Lizberg told the audience. “In 2021 we got kids back to camp. We moved into our new camp at Hidden Paradise near Fairfield two years ahead of schedule and we’re here tonight to celebrate 40 years of Camp Rainbow Gold.”

Supporters bid generously on 13 auction lots that included a five-day stay at the Pistol Creek Ranch in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, an adult summer camp overnighter for 20 at Camp Rainbow Gold with music from the Kim Stocking Band and a seven-day odyssey to Santorini, Greece, that included a caldera and volcano cruise, cooking class and winery tour.

Bidders ponied up $16,000 for a Skiing Sun Valley lot that included a 2023/24 Challenger season pass, season locker rental, River Run parking permit and $500 gift card to Panache. They bid $10,000 for a private poker game at the former home of “Take the Money and Run” rock’n’roller Steve Miller, accompanied by guided fly fishing, catered picnic lunch, and dinner and desserts by Rasberry’s.

They offered $12,500 for a seven-night stay in Tuscany with an in-home Tuscan dinner and placed two $10,750 bids on a seven-night stay for eight at a Baja home. And they dedicated a bridge at the new camp in honor of Kris Nardecchia who founded the Share your Heart Ball with Rob Cronin.

“I knew I had a calling …. and I feel like the luckiest person in the room to help children who need help,” she said.

Ted Challenger, another tour de force at camp, showed up despite having had three strokes on New Year’s Eve.

“You are the reason these kids don’t count the days to Christmas,” he told the audience. “They count the days to the next camp. These kids are my heart and soul. These kids are my legacy.”

Steve England said he thinks of young campers like Juan, a young man who lost his leg to cancer, when he reflects on his time at camp.

“I remember sitting at Alturas Lake and he had his arm on me for support just enjoying the view,” he said. “Then, I was fencing with a 6-year-old and he could tell I was letting him win. He put down his sword and said, ‘Don’t let me win just because I have cancer.’ ”

Whitney Slade said she loves to support Camp Rainbow Gold because it’s a chance to help children and their families: “How can you do better than helping kids who are going through the worst time of their life?”

Paula Shaffer, the co-founder of Valley Apothecary and a supporter of the camp since moving to the valley in 2011, told the audience how her 5-year-old daughter Luella was discovered to have a mass on her left temporal lobe after suffering a seizure two weeks before her pre-K graduation.

Luella underwent a grueling 9-hour brain surgery in Boise to have the tumor removed, then spent several weeks at Seattle Children’s Hospital to treat an aggressive cancer of the cerebral spinal fluid. She is now 18 months in remission, and her family has received support from Camp Rainbow Gold’s Youth Oncology Camp, Sibling Camp and Family Camp.

Jennifer Peterson said she also is grateful for the camp’s support for her daughter Devon: “Even before she had cancer, my husband Tyler and I took wagon-pulling horses to camp. And the most surprising thing to me has always been how you don’t walk in and think you’re looking at a bunch of sick kids. They do everything to make them feel alive.”


“If I could have a superpower, it would be a cure.”

“Camp taught me that it doesn’t matter what you go through. What really matters is who you turn into.”

“Camp feels like home and makes me happy. It’s special to me because I get to spend time with other kids who have had cancer, and I get to just be me.”

“Camp is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

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