Running for their lives

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Saturday race a benefit for Nanci Limbach’s Schneegas Foundation

This story first appeared in the Glenwood Post Independent. By Jeff Caspersen.

Nanci Limbach with a captive mountain lion at the Pauline Schneegas Wildlife Foundation.

Most injured wildlife creatures at Nanci Limbach’s sanctuary are released once they have been rehabilitated. Some can never return to the wild, such as this mountain lion. Saturday’s Run/Walk For Their Lives 5K is a fundraiser for Limbach’s Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation. Kelley Cox Post Independent file photo

Nanci Limbach was the child who would bring home a squirrel that had been hit by a car, hoping to nurse it back to health.

As an adult, she’s tending to animals of all species and sizes.

Limbach, founder and executive director of the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation in Silt, is one of the state’s few caretakers of ailing and displaced wild critters.

Bears, bobcats, elk, hawks, eagles and pretty much any other wild animal you can think of have passed through the foundation since it opened in 1984. An estimated 5,000 wild animals have been rehabilitated and released.

And Saturday’s Run/Walk For Their Lives 5K footrace is your chance to help out. The annual race is one of the chief fundraisers for the foundation, a nonprofit named after Limbach’s animal-loving grandmother, that relies on the community’s financial support to remain afloat.

Perry Will, Glenwood Springs area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is certainly a Limbach backer. He’s worked closely with her for the better part of three decades.

“Rehab was in its infancy at the time she got started,” he said. “Nanci expressed a desire to do that. It morphed into the whole wildlife foundation she now has.”

Without the foundation, area critters would meet a cruel fate.

“It feels a needed niche,” Will said. “We get these orphaned bear cubs and different stuff. People always bring in wildlife they want rehabbed. We’re not set up to do that. Nanci is great with wildlife. She has a real desire to help them.”

It seems to go beyond desire for Limbach, who has had a deep-rooted connection to the animals with whom we share the planet. It’s why she opened the foundation almost 30 years ago.

“I’ve always been an animal lover,” she said.

And, as she always tells the wildlife management students she teaches in Colorado Mountain College’s veterinary technology program, her job is far more than just a job.

“I’m really fortunate that my passion is my profession,” explained Limbach, herself a graduate of CMC’s vet tech program. “I don’t get paid for what I’m doing. I work for free. I’ve worked for free for 30 years.”

She works a lot, too, maintaining a feeding schedule that stretches practically around the clock. And rarely does a day pass without the foundation taking in a furry critter of some sort.

This time of year is a particularly busy spell for Limbach and her crew of volunteers.

“It’s baby season,” she said. “With the wind storms, a lot of babies get blown out of their nests.”

Luckily for those displaced young birds, it’s Limbach’s calling to pick up the pieces. It always has been, ever since she was a kid.

“She’s done so much for us and so much for wildlife,” Will said. “I wouldn’t even take a stab at the number of animals she’s helped.”

And it all started with those squirrels Limbach would bring home as a youngster.

Race rundown

Saturday’s Run/Walk For Their Lives 5K begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Stoney Ridge ball field behind the old Roy Moore Elementary School in Silt. Race-day registration is $25 and runs from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m.

Registrations done by Friday are $20. Forms are available at rifleco.org. Call Sandy Burns at 987-3593 for more information.

After the race, there will be an open house and yard sale at the foundation. The open house is free to runners and costs $10 for non-participants.

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