Fund-raiser held at Antares

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— They met in Auburn, Ala., as college seniors ready to graduate and build the rest of their lives. Phil and Jessica Laramore had been dating for three months when Phil asked if she wanted to pack up her life and move to Colorado with him. It was 1991. They tried Boulder first.

"But we still wanted to move to the mountains," Phil Laramore said.

They visited Steamboat Springs for a long weekend in 1993 and decided to make their life here.

The couple settled in quickly and easily to Steamboat. At the time, they could have no idea what was in store for them. They did not know how much they would need the friends they met here or that Phil would someday be walking the streets of Steamboat by himself, mourning the death of his wife.

Jessica took a job at the Young at Heart Day Care, which used to be in the old junior high building but now has merged as part of Young Tracks Child Care Center.

She was instrumental in developing infant care at the center. Her education was in early special childhood education and she also worked with several autistic children in Steamboat.

"Jessica was real outgoing, especially with little babies," Phil Laramore said.

It devastated the child care community when they heard of her diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer Dec. 23, 1999. She was 32 years old.

The couple and their 7-year-old daughter, Alexandra, stayed in Steamboat until the spring of 2000, when they moved to Denver to be closer to cancer treatment.

During her struggle for life, Jessica Laramore had 28 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation and a double mastectomy.

"There was a six-month period where she was considered cancer-free," Phil Laramore said. But in July of last year, doctors found a couple of spots on her liver, which turned into five spots by September.

She passed away Nov. 11 from breast cancer, which had spread through her liver and bones.

Phil was still in touch with his friends in Steamboat through his job at Grand Zin, a wine distribution company.

Colleagues and friends from the wine business, including Antares owner Doug Enochs, heard stories of medical bills and Phil's struggles as a single father trying to pay the psychologist bills for his grieving daughter.

Alexandra attends sessions at Judi's House, a center for grieving children.

"She's doing remarkably well," Phil Laramore said. "She had to grow up really quick, but her entire conscious life she knew her mother had cancer. This wasn't unexpected."

Jessica fought hard for a long time, he said, and the six months she spent cancer free was a great summer.

Enochs arranged a silent auction and wine tasting at Antares, scheduled for Saturday, to help the Laramore family cover the medical bills.

"This is a chance to say goodbye to Jessica and celebrate Alex's life," Phil Laramore said.

Steamboat is the perfect place for such an event, he said. "We were there for a long time. Jessica considered Steamboat her home. It's where we got married, and a lot of people loved her there.

"Denver was just somewhere we had to go. Steamboat was where we had our life together."

"I've known Phil for a long time," Enochs said. "I was on the way to the funeral with Greg Nealy and we wanted to do something to relieve their burden of debt. (Jessica) was sick for years, and the insurance ran out."

Enochs is a sommelier and Laramore is Grand Zin's French wine expert.

Laramore was the wine guy at Central Park Liquor for years, Enochs said. "Every wine rep in town knows him"

And they all will be donating wines to Saturday's event, which costs $15 at the door for wine from all over the world and hors d'oeurves from Tobiano's, L'apogee, Antares and Cafe Diva.

Silent auction items will include massages and theater tickets. Call 846-1242.

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