bighorn behind a miracle

Community Treasures

Selby Dunham and Bighorn Behind A Miracle tap into the generous spirit of Coachella Valley residents.

Janice Kleinschmidt Current PSL, Health & Wellness

bighorn behind a miracle

In 2016, BAM purchased two ADA-compliant vans and had them graphically identified with pink-and-gray vehicle wraps.

After her cancer diagnosis in 2005, Selby Dunham underwent six months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and 33 radiation treatments. Then she played golf in a tournament benefiting the Susan G. Komen breast-cancer nonprofit. Asked by fellow Bighorn Golf Club members to help with the fundraising event the following year, Dunham implemented ideas that increased revenues tenfold to $70,000. When thus called upon to take the lead, she asked if she could “change the parameters” to keep the money locally.

“I didn’t feel [contributing to the Komen organization] was directly impacting our valley,” she says. “I gathered 20 to 25 friends, and Vickee Schons came up with the name Behind A Miracle.” Known as BAM, the group has donated more than $7 million to Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center, Schnitzer/Novack Breast Centers, and Bighorn Radiation Oncology Center. (The latter naming recognition occurred in 2007 in recognition of a $10.8 million contribution from Bighorn Golf Club members to an Eisenhower Health fundraising campaign.)

With the decision to make Eisenhower the golf tournament’s beneficiary, Dunham requested a wish list from healthcare administrators.

“I wanted to see where the money was going and where the need was for the cancer center,” she says, adding that she simultaneously informed Eisenhower she had her own wish based on personal experience.

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“When I was going through daily radiation, there was a gal who asked me, ‘What are you doing for the tenderness and burns?’ I told her I used aloe vera, and she asked me if it was expensive. That told me a lot about her finances. I bought a tub of aloe vera to give her the next day, but she wasn’t there.

I asked the technician, ‘Where’s Alice?’ And he said she missed her bus. I was floored; it never occurred to me that people had difficulty getting to treatments. That gave me the idea that we need to provide transportation for patients.”

Eisenhower contracted for transportation, which Dunham says worked well for several years. But after adding service locations, costs leapt 400 percent in 2015 over the previous year.


Cancer survivor and 
advocate Selby Dunham.

So, in 2016, BAM purchased two ADA-compliant vans and had them graphically identified with pink-and-gray vehicle wraps. (A van’s back-window wrap reads, “You’re Behind a Miracle.”) BAM later added an SUV to the program and continues to cover all the costs associated with vehicle ownership, including driver employment, maintenance, insurance, and fuel.

People need not be Bighorn residents to help BAM raise money. In 2008, BAM and The Shops on El Paseo debuted The Miracle on El Paseo. The holiday celebration each November grew from festive presentations in shops and restaurants to a whale of a “block party” with a Ferris wheel, tree lighting, Santa Claus, live entertainment, and family activities.

“I couldn’t be happier to see all the kids and community involved,” Dunham says. “One hundred percent of ticket sales goes to BAM, and some of the stores and restaurants give us 10 to 20 percent of their sales for the evening or for the week when customers mention BAM.”

BAM’s other communitywide, annual fundraiser began in 2009.

“Game Day for Life was started by a cancer survivor named Susan Goldfine,” Dunham says. “She contacted me after reading a newspaper story about BAM and asked if we had ever considered a card-game fundraiser. She organized it with help from Bighorn’s marketing department. 
She succumbed to breast cancer, but Game Day went on at Heather James Fine Art, where owner Jim Corona has been wonderful in underwriting the event.

“The generosity of the people in this valley goes beyond anything I could dream,” Dunham concludes. “I am amazed and honored to be a part of the charitable contributions that residents make. This is a wonderful place to live.”

In October of 2019, Dunham’s cancer recurred and is still being treated with oral chemotherapy. “But I feel good, and I am going to just keep fighting,” she says. No one who knows her can doubt that she means what she says.

BAM Dollars at Work
(partial list)
  • Patient transportation
  • Ultrasound machines and service contracts
  • Mammogram units
  • Biopsy radiograph
  • Biomedical scanner
  • Genetic counseling
  • Various software
  • TrueBeam linear accelerator
  • Vein finders
  • Mohs surgery microscope
  • Brachytherapy system
  • Technologist education
  • Clinical trials
  • Comfort: spa robes, blanket warmer, infusion-chair televisions

READ NEXT: Participate in the El Paseo Contest Through June 30 and Possiby Win a Hotel Paseo Stay.