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One Family's Investment in HCI's Mission

Read Time: 5 minutes

Rich and Vicki Linton in racing gear

In 2015, Rich and Vicki Linton lost their beloved daughter-in-law, Alisa, after a prolonged battle with an aggressive form of melanoma. Alisa received cancer treatment at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), including participating in cutting-edge clinical trials.

Alisa’s husband, Josh, says, “When my wife was diagnosed, they told us there hadn’t been new treatment options for melanoma in over 20 years. And in the eight years that she battled this disease, there were four or five new drugs and opportunities she had that led to miraculous stories of tumors going away.”

He adds, “In the end, we couldn’t beat it, but the opportunity we had to fight would not have been available without the research and the work that Huntsman Cancer Institute does every day.”

Alisa Linton
Alisa Linton

The entire Linton family is committed to help HCI eradicate cancer from the face of the earth. They are passionate about funding research so that one day, no one else will be lost to this horrible disease. Rich and Vicki have participated in Huntsman Heroes fundraising events since 2011 and have raised more than $56,000 through that effort. Vicki shared this message before riding in the Huntsman SportsFest’s iconic 140-mile bike ride.

“Cancer affects everyone. If it hasn’t touched your life yet, unfortunately, it will. And when it does, it takes the wind out of your sails, and you want to do something. We aren’t doctors, and we aren’t researchers. We can’t find a cure for cancer, and we can’t help those who are suffering directly, but we can do something. We can raise awareness for the needed funds to support those who can help. And perhaps participating in the Huntsman Heroes program also satisfies our need to help. 

I ride for Alisa. I ride for all those affected. I ride for Huntsman Cancer Institute because everyone has an Alisa, everyone has someone they ride for. I ride to give my brain a break from the heartache that comes from the pain cancer causes in the lives of those it affects.

You see, when you ride, you can’t cry, and you must concentrate on what the bike is doing—not your woes—or you will be down in a nanosecond. And when your body is screaming that you can’t do 140 miles, you think of those who have gone through so much pain because of cancer, and you say to yourself, ‘Alisa did hard things, so I can do hard things.’

I raise money because of Alisa. She tried every research study that was available to her. Even when she knew it wouldn’t help her, she knew that it would help someone down the road. She believed that research could increase her life and decrease death statistics. She thought that an extra six months with her children was worth the pain of treatment.

I support Huntsman because Jon Huntsman made me believe that even my small donation was as crucial as his billion-dollar donation. I support Huntsman because I believe, as Alisa believed, that there will be miracles because of the research that I helped fund.”

Cancer continues to impact the Linton family, and Rich and Vicki ride to remember those they have lost and support all those who experience a cancer diagnosis. Vicki says, “I ride with the Huntsman Heroes because they have taught me how to be joyful even when it gets tough. They have taught me that laughter and frivolity are still available even when hearts are breaking. They have cried with me, understood me, and loved me. Collectively this group radiates hope.”

Rich Linton by a picture of his daughter in law

When asked what it means to them to be Huntsman Heroes, Vicki responds, “This is an interesting question because my husband, Rich, doesn’t like it when the word hero is attached to us.” Rich goes on to say, “We are just regular people who want to help. The real heroes are those who suffer through cancer.”

Beyond the Lintons’ involvement with the Huntsman Heroes program, their company, VLCM, is a proud million-dollar partner of Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF). VLCM, the VLCM Foundation, and the Linton family have donated more than one million dollars throughout their partnership with HCF. 

In 2019, the VLCM Foundation donated $50,000 to name a mole mapping room in melanoma suite two at HCI. The sign honoring the gift states, “A Gift of Hope in Honor of Alisa Johnson Linton.” This room will allow people to receive mole-mapping, a procedure developed at HCI in which physicians use high-resolution photographs to take an inventory and monitor the progression of changes to the skin. This important monitoring ensures that cancers are detected at their earliest, most treatable stage.

The VLCM team riding in LOTOJA
The VLCM team riding in LOTOJA

The VLCM Foundation’s hope is this gift to HCI will help catch malignant (cancerous) skin lesions earlier and hopefully help prevent aggressive forms of melanoma from progressing altogether. VLCM is committed to carrying on Alisa’s drive to be a force for good and helping those faced with a cancer diagnosis.

“The Huntsman Cancer Foundation and Huntsman Cancer Institute have been instrumental in helping my family and me personally, but also our company. It is a mission that is close to our hearts. Because we have all been affected by cancer in one way or another,” says Josh.

Rich adds, “People often want to know what we are all about, and we love to tell them we love a challenge, and there is not a bigger challenge in our minds than defeating this hellacious disease.”

The Linton family after the Huntsman 140 before Alisa passed away
The Linton family after the Huntsman 140 before Alisa passed away

Cancer touches all of us.