Steamboat Springs High School basketball games moved, celebration of life planned | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs High School basketball games moved, celebration of life planned

Denise Pearson, right, and her husband, Jim, are pictured. Denise, longtime Steamboat Springs High School bookkeeper, lost her battle with leukemia on Jan. 18.

— Steamboat Springs High School administrators have decided to move basketball games, planned for Feb. 4, forward a day so the times don’t conflict with a celebration of life honoring the school's longtime bookkeeper, Denise Pearson, who died earlier in January.

Athletics director Luke DeWolfe said the school has chosen to move basketball games scheduled for that day to Feb. 3. The boys C-team game will tip off at 3 p.m. and will be followed by the boys and girls junior varsity games at 4:30 p.m. The girls varsity game will begin at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the boys varsity game at 7:30 p.m.

"I don't think you can underestimate the impact Denise had on the high school and the entire district," DeWolfe sad. "She did everything possible to help the kids in our community and the athletics programs at the high school. We want to do all we can to honor her and her family."

Pearson, 59, died Jan. 18, and a celebration of life is scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 4 in the commons area of the Steamboat Springs High School. Memorial donations can be made to Steamboat Springs High School Athletics in care of Yampa Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 776090, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.

Pearson had worked for the district since 2000 and was a 1974 Steamboat Springs High School graduate. As a student, she was very involved in athletics and was a member of the track, gymnastics and cheerleading teams. She also worked as an assistant coach at the high school for several years.

In fall 2015, Pearson began to feel abnormally tired and was ultimately diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a group of diseases that affect healthy blood cell production in bone marrow. Though medication Pearson was given initially seemed to be helping, her progress slowed last spring, and doctors learned her condition had progressed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which led to the need for a stem cell transplant.

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After undergoing a stem cell transplant from an anonymous donor in the spring, Pearson's results were mixed. Leukemia was no longer found in Pearson's blood, but the stem cells didn't remove all of the disease from her bone marrow, and she began an intense series of chemotherapy treatments.

School board president Joey Andrews said the high school bookkeeper brought a sense of calm and order to the often chaotic back office at the high school. It also wasn't uncommon for Pearson to go out of her way to make sure that none of the students at the high school were ever overlooked.

"She was always there for the students, and she was always there to make sure that no student fell through the cracks because of financial burdens or hardships," Andrews said. “She had a great personality, and she was always smiling."

Pearson's husband, Jim, said the family wants to carry on his wife's passion for taking care of students and student-athletes through a memorial fund that will help students, especially those dealing with financial challenges, stay involved at the high school.

"One of her wishes was to create a memorial fund … That fund will allow students who can't afford fees to participate in athletes and activities at the high school," DeWolfe said. "At Denise's core, she cared greatly for the kids in our community. She wanted every student to have the opportunity to participate in sports and to be a part of our school."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966