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Vt. game wardens rally to help family after cancer loss - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. game wardens rally to help family after cancer loss

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

Senior Game Warden Steve Majeski will never forget the first time he met Ashley Gravelle.

"She came flying down the hill with a big black curly wig on her head and she was right dead in the middle of chemo and still she was out skiing on the mountain -- that's the very first time I met her and I knew that we were going to be friends right then," he says.

Steve had already met Ashley's husband Jason at a ski shop.

"When I did meet him we talked about deputy state game wardens, so I said why don't you come for a ride with me and see if you like what we do," he says.

That ride eventually led Jason to a career change.

"Since we were kids I remember him talking about law enforcement and when Ashley got sick, one of the many times, they really took stock of their lives and Jason said, this is really what I want to do," says Jason's sister, Ashley Morse.

Jason became a Vermont Game Warden in 2011. Ashley had just found out her cancer was back when they took this photo on his graduation day.

"The picture there is of her wearing a survivor bib."

Jason's sister, who is also named Ashley, says, Ashley had a team raising money for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center long before her diagnosis.

"As long as I've known them and probably long before that they've been paying it forward for years," says Majeski.

Six years into a battle with breast cancer that spread to her liver and lungs, it was time for the Gravelle's to be on the receiving end. The Vermont Game Warden Association set up a Go Fund Me account online and shared the Gravelle's story.

"The initial goal with the GO FUND ME, we thought we were reaching pretty high, we went for ten thousand dollars," says Vermont Game Warden Greg Eckhardt.

They reached that goal in eight hours.

"So we said, ten thousand dollars we passed that in eight hours, let's try for something really high, we said twenty-five thousand dollars," he says. "The next day, we're over $25,000, this is crazy, so we set the goal for 50,000 and we hit 50,000 in a week."

Sadly, that same day, Sunday, March 9, 43-year-old Ashley Gravelle passed away after a six-year battle with breast cancer. She left behind 10-year-old Sadie, 6-year-old Chase, family and friends who are still grappling with the emptiness that comes with such a big loss.

"Sister-in-law sounds so formal. Like somehow I was obligated to like her, but the minute I met her, I remember the day I met her I knew we were going to be fast friends she made it very easy," says Morse.

"He is transitioning into a life where he is going to be the sole breadwinner in the family. His children, obviously for the rest of their lives, there's one thing that they're always going to want that they can't have. But, I don't feel that they should want for anything else," says Majeski.

The fund for the Gravelle's is now over $65,000. Donations continue to come in from all over the country. A humbling reminder of the impact one person, one family and one community can make, something Ashley inspired and continues to do after leaving these final thoughts about the way we should live:

"Never be too busy to listen to friends. To get up and see the fireworks at four a.m. To go a step or four out of the way to help somebody out. To get up in the middle of the night to watch the meteor showers or shooting stars from the top of a hill. There's always room in your heart to grow bigger."

There will be a fundraiser in June to help the Gravelle family. It's a 5K & 10K at Mount Ascutney on June 21, 2014. Half of the registration fees will go to the family. There will also be a BBQ on race day hosted by the Vermont Game Wardens Association. It's $10 per person and all the proceeds from that will go to the Gravelle family.

For more information about the fund, go to: gofundme.com/gravellebenefit

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