Skip to content




Renée Okubo: A Journey of Love, Grief, and Giving

“My philosophy is, what goes around, comes around. We need to be involved in the community where we live.”

As a breast cancer survivor, Renée Okubo’s gift to Vail Health Shaw Cancer Center is deeply personal. Having endured the loss of her husband and several friends to cancer, she understands the impact the disease has on patients and families. But her story doesn’t begin there. It starts in France and is marked by adventure, travel, and true love.

Renee Okubo Benefactor Story

From the Bahamas to Colorado: A Love Story

Renée was born and raised in France, where she studied international business. Not one for an office job, she worked for a ski resort in Switzerland after college and later moved to the Bahamas, where she met her future husband.

Larry was born and raised in Japan. An architect in Long Island, New York, he was in the Bahamas for a few days for business. The two hit it off immediately. “It was love at first sight,” Renée remembers.

After a long-distance romance, Renée moved to Long Island to join Larry. Their passion for the outdoors eventually brought the couple to Denver, where they built a home together. “I wanted to be in a place with mountains and skiing,” she says. Skiing drew them to Vail every weekend, ultimately leading them to purchase a second home here.

Renée and Larry also shared a love for road cycling. They participated in the Courage Classic Bicycle Tour for 10 years to raise funds for Children’s Hospital Colorado. However, their lives turned for the worse when Larry began complaining of a sore throat in summer 2006.

Finding Purpose After Loss

At age 60, Larry was diagnosed with throat cancer. He passed away after a three-year battle with the disease. “It was a very difficult time. I closed myself up in my shell,” she explains. Three years later, Renée moved to Vail full-time.

While Larry wasn’t treated at Shaw Cancer Center, Renée learned about Shaw at a Vail Health Volunteer Corps event. Later, she would experience Shaw’s high-quality, compassionate care through the eyes of two close friends. “I have friends who were treated at Shaw, and I was so impressed by the facility, nurses, and one-on-one treatment they received,” she says.

Giving Back Where You Can

Renée was inspired by her mother, who instilled the value of giving back to those in need. “My mom was a very generous and caring person,” she recalls.

Research and education are two areas that Renée values. “Larry and I were very interested in cancer research, which I continue to support through philanthropy,” she says. “My donations are given in honor of Larry.”

While she misses Larry, Renée finds that hiking, biking, attending the symphony and ballet, and making a difference helps her cherish her memories of him. She hopes that her donation to Shaw will support those in their fight against cancer.

“I was so impressed by Shaw Cancer Center and the personalized care. Everybody knows everybody, and the nurses are compassionate. I think Shaw is a gift to the region.”
Renée Okubo

The Shaw Patient Assistance Fund helps patients in need with non-medical expenses such as mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries, so they can focus on regaining their health.


Share This