Cancer-free, a ‘Sunshine Kid’ returns to Steamboat
14-year-old Bobby Menges is bright about future
July 20, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Bobby Menges’ future plans change constantly.
One day, he wants to be a doctor. The next, he wants to melt faces and hearts as a rock star. Then, of course, there is architecture.
"Believe me, I have no idea," Bobby said Friday. "I want to do so many things. It changes every day."
Judging from his first 14 years, Bobby will succeed at whatever he does. He's already won one of the biggest battles of his life.
Bobby was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial cancer in childhood, when he was 5. It returned when he was 9. But Bobby has been cancer-free for a year and off treatment for six months.
"I'm cancer-free," he said. "And I like to look at things in the future and not dwell in the past."
Bobby is in Steamboat Springs this weekend representing the Sunshine Kids Foundation, a Houston-based organization that helps children with cancer find hope through trips and activities.
He spoke Friday at the Tour de Steamboat Benefit Dinner to raise awareness and encourage people to donate to the Sunshine Kids. He's also hoping to complete Saturday’s 25-mile ride.
Bobby was one of 26 children to come to last year's Sunshine Winter Games in Steamboat.
"He was very popular on that trip," said Shannon Malone, the director of operations for the Sunshine Kids Foundation. "He wants to give back. He had a great time on the skiing trip. When (Tour de Steamboat co-organizer) Laura (Cusenbary) asked if we could get him to come back, he was so excited. He said, 'I'll do anything I can to help.'"
Saturday’s eighth annual Tour de Steamboat raises funds for the winter trip to Steamboat. The event hopes to make $75,000 this year and has contributed more than $150,000 to the Sunshine Kids Foundation since 2008.
"It allows children to still be kids and gives them the ability to be connected," Bobby's dad, Peter, said about the Sunshine Kids trips. "I asked Bobby on the plane ride over if he still keeps in touch. He said he does. They stay connected. You don't just get to come to a wonderful place and meet wonderful people, but you get to grow with the others. Bobby grew a little bit and matured a little bit."
And now, Bobby really is just an ordinary 14-year-old getting ready for his sophomore year of high school.
He said the past is the past. He doesn't think about the weekly trips to the hospital, the month straight spent in the hospital or the 96 days he missed in first grade because of cancer.
He plays the guitar (his favorite band is The Who), goes to the beach, plays in the marching band, wrestles, golfs, plays lacrosse and snowboards.
He also organizes blood drives, speaks at cancer hospitals and volunteers weekly at the hospital in his hometown of Garden City, N.Y.
"He's taught all of us," his father said. "They all taught us. It's really a gift from all the Sunshine Kids. You can't find a person that has had one conversation with any of these kids that's not positively affected. That's just a fact."
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Sunshine Kids Foundation can click here.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com