Couple to ride in Courage Classic

A Lakewood family will bike in the 20th annual Children’s Hospital Courage Classic to help raise money for the medical center that has treated their son since birth.

Stefan and Brenda Van der Steen will take part in the 3-day tour, which passes through Copper Mountain and Leadville for three days, along 157 miles of mountain routes July 25 through 27.

The couple decided to ride in the classic because they are thankful for the care their 11-month-old son has received from the hospital, and they wanted to give back, Brenda said.

The Van der Steens’ 11-month-old son, Gavin, was born with medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, a rare disease that dose not allow the infant’s body to break down and convert fat into energy.

“It could lead to death if not discovered soon enough and not monitored closely for the rest of his life,” Brenda said.

The couple said the disease is so rare that many of the doctors Gavin saw while in the hospital had to research the condition in order to treat the child, Stefan said.

Both being bikers for fun, the couple, who have lived in Lakewood for three years, said they originally were going to donate to the classic, but decided to participate in order to spend time together and raise a larger amount of money for the hospital.

“We are lucky to have them (Children’s) this close, and we have gotten great service from them for Gavin,” Stefan said.

The Courage Classic requires every person participating to pay an entry fee, raise at least $300 and seek additional donations for the cause.

“We sent out 60 to 70 e-mails for donations to friends and family and will hopefully raise around $1,200 for the tour,” Brenda said.

Last year’s classic was a record-breaker with 2,000 riders raising more than $2.7 million for Children’s.

Stefan, founder of Denver Adventures, and Brenda, who works for Quest, have another child, Kira, 4, who is completely healthy, Stefan said.

The couple hopes to make the classic an annual tradition, with friends of the two expressing interest in being on a team for the tour in the following years, Brenda said.

The overall experience with Gavin’s MCADD has been frightening at times, but good in the fact that the couple and doctors have worked closely to study the disease, keeping Gavin in good health.

“It has been a great team effort with us and the doctors learning about the disorder, and his daycare even having specific protocols in place in case of an emergency,” Stefan said.

The head of the metabolic clinic for Children’s Hospital is from Belgium, as is Stefan, a coincidence that has been helpful, the Van der Steens agreed.

“He was able to recommend the best doctors for the disorder, so if there were an incident when we visit my family back in Belgium, we would be taken care of,” Stefan said.

The couple is training for the tour currently, ready for a fun, exhausting time, Brenda said.

“It’s a fun cause to get together around, we’re excited,” she said.

For more information on The Children’s Hospital Courage Classic, visit

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