Zabel benefit raises $50,000

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Seven-year-old Taylen Zabel was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor April 9. Donations are still coming in to help pay for her family's medical expenses.

— A benefit in Hayden for 7-year-old Taylen Zabel raised about $50,000 during the Hayden Daze festival last weekend, benefit organizers said.

Taylen, the daughter of Hayden School District teachers Ty and Gina Zabel, was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor known as medulloblastoma April 9. The tumor was removed April 12. Taylen recently completed radiation treatment and began chemotherapy treatments in Denver on Wednesday.

The money, which will be used to help the family with medical expenses, was raised through a yard sale, silent auction, dunk tank, live auctions and donations. Benefit organizer Rhonda Sweetser said she is overwhelmed with the amount of money raised and said donations are still coming in.

"To me, it was the whole valley coming together," Sweetser said. "Some of the generosity people had really floored me."

Workers at the yard sale in the Hayden Middle School parking lot Saturday morning said that in addition to selling loads of donated items, people were making donations - some as large as $500 - for nothing in return. Taylen's grandfather, Curtis Zabel, creator of the large elk sculpture in Steamboat Springs' West Lincoln Park, sculpted a smaller elk statue that sold for $1,000 more than its appraised value at the live auction.

"I think the community has been exceptional with all the love and help they've given," Curtis Zabel said.

Sweetser said she was grateful the Zabels were willing to let others help them financially.

"It was a way we could do something," Sweetser said. "You can't make it go away, and you can't be there with them every step of the way. But we could do this."

A benefit concert for Taylen is scheduled for Aug. 26, Sweetser said.

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