Fundraiser to help skier | SteamboatToday.com

Fundraiser to help skier

Autumn Phillips

More than anything, Chris Nappi wants everyone to know he’s doing well. His strength is coming back. He can walk on his own.

His recovery is going so well, in fact, that Nappi said he thought he might be able to take a run or two during the first week of ski season.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year when he went to the doctor complaining about a second bout with pneumonia in 18 months.

He went into surgery on Sept. 27 and has been recovering since.

“When I found out I had cancer, I was more scared than anyone could have been,” Nappi said. “But it took a positive turn so quickly.”

Nappi moved to Steamboat Springs more than a decade ago as a Colorado Mountain College student, and he chose to stay.

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As an avid Alpine skier, the mountain was Nappi’s first draw, but the long-term appeal was the “warm embrace” of the valley, he said. “It’s that Steamboat feel. I’m like a lot of people, when I hit that last turn on Rabbit Ears Pass after being away, it does something to me.”

Nappi grew up in Queens, N.Y., and moved to Long Island as a teenager, where he met Chad Gagliano and Paul Michelle, now the owner and manager of Levelz Night Club.

Gagliano was a little older than Nappi and Michelle and moved to Steamboat a year before them.

Gagliano and Michelle are throwing a fundraiser Wed–nesday to help Nappi pay his accumulating medical bills.

Nappi is a seasonal worker. He patches together three jobs in the summer — painting for himself, working part time as a bellman at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and working almost full time at the deli of the Catamount Ranch & Club.

In the winter, he works full time as a bellman at the Steam–boat Grand.

Like most seasonal workers, Nappi doesn’t have insurance. Instead of insurance, the benefits from his job, he learned when he got sick, came in the form of the network of people.

“Everyone’s rallied behind me,” he said. After six days in the hospital in Denver to remove part of his lung and the rehabilitation since, Nappi has been blown away by the medical bills.

With financial assistance, the $42,000 bill for his hospital stay was reduced to $24,000.

To help him pay, the members and employees at Catamount set up the Chris Nappi fund.

The Steamboat Grand donated prizes for a raffle planned at Wednesday’s fundraiser, and Steamboat Resorts gave his parents a free place to stay when they came to visit.

“Everybody I’ve come in contact with in 10 years has done something for me,” he said. “It’s really moved me as a person.”

— To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday Where: Levelz in Ski Time Square Cost: Donations at the door Call: 870-9090