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Girl raising funds for horseback riding camp that help young cancer patients

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POSTED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Saturday, June 23, 2012 - 6:04am

The toll of the wildfires raging out west cannot always be counted by acres burned or homes destroyed.

For 12 year old Allison Winn, it can be counted in experiences.

"It affected me, too," Allison said. "Even though, I wasn't close to it, it made me feel really sad."

Every year, for the past five years, Allison has attended the Sky High Hope Camp in the mountains near Fort Collins, Colorado with her sister Emily.

The camp for cancer survivors and their siblings was set for the beginning of July.

The High Park Fire canceled it.

"I was hoping I would be able to go to camp," Allison said. "I really wanted to see my friends."

Allison attended right after her first round of chemotherapy.

Her mother, Diana Litvak, says it was a big boost.

"It didn't matter that she had cancer," Litvak said. "When she went up there, all of her fears and worried were erased because she was with a community of people that were in exactly the same boat that she was."

Allison and Emily bonded at camp.

They enjoyed the outdoors and rode horses from the neighboring Tip Top Ranch.

The fire has come close, but so far it has spared the Tip Top Ranch and the Buckhorn Camp where Sky High Hope Camp is held.

Dozens of horses from Tip Top have been evacuated, but they are in need of food.

So, instead of going to camp, Allison and Emily have launched a fundraising campaign to buy hay for the horses from the Tip Top Ranch.

They are selling homemade dog biscuits and birdhouses at their block party and Farmers' Market in Stapleton.

Allison says she's just taking a page from the lessons she learned at camp.

"The best thing they taught me is that, when life hands you something hard, you have to throw it back," Allison said.

Allison is no stranger to fundraising.

When she was 8 years old she started a non-profit called "The Stink Bug Project" to help terminally-ill kids.

So far, she has raised more than $85,000.

"I think Allison's taught us you're never too small to make a difference," Litvak said.

She may be small, but she says camp taught her to think big.

"They remind me that nothing stops you even if you're a kid and you don't think you can change anything," Allison said.

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