CVU students lace up to support a former track coach

By Rachel Gill
Observer correspondent

Ready, set, go! With that, close to 80 racers bolted out of the starting gate, all propelled by a desire to support a local woman’s battle with cancer.

As part of the Sunshine Fun Run/Walk held in Charlotte on Nov. 3, racers represented various Vermont high schools, including Champlain Valley Union. The students, along with community members, laced up their shoes for the three-mile race that raised over $1,500 to defray medical costs for Pam Paradee of Bristol, a former CVU track coach diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2006. Upon being diagnosed, Paradee was forced to take a leave of absence from her current teaching position at Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro.

Race organizers included Martha Keenan of Charlotte, who donated the use of her land and her neighbor’s land for the race, and current CVU Cross Country coach Scott Bliss.

Funds raised will be put into The Sunshine Fund, created by CVU staff and students to help support the Paradee family. Dan Shepardson, CVU Fairbanks House Director and one of the Sunshine Fund coordinators, said while the initial intent of the fund was to support the Paradees, it will also be available to other members of the greater CVU community in times of need.

The race is one of many events organized by CVU staff and students to add to the fund. So far, events have included a basketball tournament held last year that students named the “Pam Jam” and a student-organized skateboarding event at Burton Snowboards in Burlington.

Among the students suiting up for the Sunshine Fun Run was Ali Barnes, a CVU junior from Charlotte who had Pam as a track coach her freshman year.

“Pam always supported and pushed us because she really believed in our potential,” Barnes said.

For Barnes’ fellow teammate Maddy Christian, a CVU junior from Williston, helping Pam is a family affair. Paradee’s husband Troy Paradee is currently a CVU wellness teacher.

“ Troy is my advisor and even during this hard time he always has a smile on his face,” Christian said. “Our team thought this was a good opportunity to come out and give back some of what the Paradees have given us.”

This is not the first time Barnes and Christian have come out to support the Paradees. Last year, Troy Paradee organized a team called Believe It and Achieve It to run in the Vermont City Marathon in May in Burlington. Due to his wife’s diagnosis, he and his wife withdrew from the competition. CVU students offered to take over the team.

“We had a great time and actually did considerably well,” Barnes said.

After receiving chemotherapy treatment just days before the Sunshine Fun Race, Paradee was unable to attend. However, Troy Paradee said his family has a message for racers.

“We want to thank everyone involved and say how much we appreciate the support our family has received and also the support these efforts will provide to other families as well,” Paradee said. “It has been truly overwhelming watching students put so much heart into this, it’s beyond anything we could have ever imagined.”

Paradee also said he hopes these efforts will teach students a lesson.

“This is a great opportunity for students to realize that they can do things to help others and I hope they take that with them into their adulthood,” Paradee said.

To make a donations to the CVU fund contact Dan Shepardson at or at 482-7100. Online donations to the Paradees can also be made at