weather icon Clear

Las Vegas Candlelighters fundraiser celebrates 30 years

When Mark Grenier fielded a phone call in the offices of the Las Vegas Stars in 1989, he had no idea that it would change his life and the lives of hundreds of Southern Nevadans.

The call motivated Grenier to create an annual fundraiser for Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada. On Sept. 14, the 30th edition of what’s now called the Candlelighters Superhero 5K will be held at Exploration Peak Park at Mountain’s Edge.

Since its beginnings in 1990, the event has raised close to $3 million for Candlelighters, which provides services and support to children and families affected by childhood cancer in the Las Vegas area. For Grenier, it’s a fortunate result of being by the right phone at the right time.

Grenier, 62, moved to Las Vegas from Santa Cruz, California, in 1986 to take a job with the Las Vegas Stars, the predecessor of the current Aviators (and, before that, the 51s). He worked with the team until 2000, eventually becoming assistant general manager.

One game day, he was manning the phones when a call came in from a woman who asked if a few Stars players could visit a local Little League game. The woman, a team mom, explained that one of her 9-year-old players was recovering from cancer-related brain surgery and “was finally ready to come out and sit on the bench with his team.”

“I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way we can do that, because we just don’t do stuff like that,’ ” Grenier says. “I went back and asked the coach, and the coach said, ‘Sure, take three of my pitchers who aren’t pitching tonight.’ So I loaded up three pitchers and our mascot and we went out to the baseball game.”

“I’ll never forget walking across that field, seeing that little boy with a big bandage across his head, sitting on the bench, Grenier says. “I get goosebumps talking about it now.”

The experience prompted Grenier to create a 5K fun walk at Cashman Field with Candlelighters as beneficiary.

“We raised between $750 and $1,000 our first year,” he says. Participants “raced around Cashman Field, and we finished in center field. … We had food and drink, and people had a little picnic on the lawn for an hour after the race. It was really special, and I thought, ‘Maybe we can do this again.’ ”

The event has changed over the past 30 years — a few name changes, adoption of a team concept, and even the addition of a pet division — and “we just started getting more people in,” Grenier says. “We have a good time.”

For Grenier, the event also serves as a tribute to his father, Thomas, who died of prostate cancer in 1984 at the age of 51.

Grenier and his wife, Julie, have two sons, Justen, 28, and Cadyn, 22.

Review-Journal: It must have been fate that you were fielding phone calls that day.

Mark Grenier: I guess. I don’t know what to call it, but it certainly worked out. I give (Candlelighters) kudos. I’ve worked with so many executive directors and event coordinators at Candlelighters. This organization, honestly, (has) such a small group of staff members but they do such incredible things in this community.

The Stars job sounds great. Had you always wanted to work in baseball?

I had just gotten out of school at the University of Utah. … I wanted to be an agent, but after I graduated, I said, “There’s no way I’m going to go to law school.”

How did you land the job?

I love baseball, and a very good of friend of mine — he’s passed now — said a good way to get into baseball is to go to the (Major League Baseball) winter meetings. He helped me get interviews at a couple of places, and I ended up meeting with (Stars/51s/Aviators general manager) Don Logan and he hired me.

That turned out to be good advice.

I went to the winter meetings in December of ’85, and (play-by-play announcer) Colin Cowherd and I got the only two Triple-A jobs available that year. That’s what brought me here. I never wanted to move to Las Vegas, but I thought I’d come for a couple of years, and I’m still here.

The success of the Candlelighters event is a nice tribute to your dad.

He was a very busy professional … but I’ll never forget that he always tried to come out and be that dad who didn’t know anything about coaching but (did it) just to be with the kids. As busy as he was, he tried to come out to watch us as much as possible. I’ve never said no to either of my boys if they wanted to do something sports-related, to this day. I took that from my dad, to be sure.

Do you have Candlelighters regulars by now — people who participate in the 5K year after year?

I know there are two people I used to run with 20 years ago who have been to every one of them. They always come up to tell me at the awards ceremony when they get the awards — they’re 68 or 69 now — “You know, I’ve never missed. When am I going to get a discount?”

Did you ever expect it would last this long?

Not at all. This is all the big joke around my family. My wife is always on me that this is the only thing I’ve stuck with. She always says I start everything and never finish (laughs). But my family backed it. My kids grew up with it. They’ve volunteered through the years. I did it kind of selfishly for my dad and tried to come up with something that was unique for the baseball team — something different, something I had a passion for, which is running. It was just the perfect storm, I guess.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow@JJPrzybys on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa Returns To Red Rock. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa at Red Rock Resort is set to open on Aug. 26.
Hubert Keller’s Backyard Kitchen
Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar shows off his backyard kitchen in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Watermelon Mojitos and Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Bartender Cassy Leedom and Chef Norberto Ortega make a Watermelon Mojito and Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas celebrates National Fajita Day
Cook Ruben Fuentes and general manager Taylor Pulliam of Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas prepare steak and shrimp fajitas with the restaurant’s signature fiery treatment. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pasta Shop Ristorante serves a watermelon-shrimp salad
Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson serves a summer salad that combines watermelon with greens, feta and shrimp. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Factory Kitchen in Las Vegas makes classic affogato
Jorge Luque, pastry chef at The Factory Kitchen at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes affogato with two simple ingredients - house-made gelato and fresh espresso. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review Journal with image from The Factory Kitchen)
The Cereal Killerz Kitchen serves over 100 cereals
Christopher Burns, owner of The Cereal Killerz Kitchen at Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson, makes a Milk & Cookies Shake from his more than 100 varieties of cereal. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Las Vegas makes a State Fair CrazyShake
Bianca Zepeva, a shaker at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes a State Fair CrazyShake with a kettle corn rim, caramel, corn-based ice cream, popcorn brittle, crushed kettle corn, sprinkles and a cherry. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Balboa Pizza Company makes Thai peanut chicken wings
Irma Perez, kitchen manager at Balboa Pizza Company at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, near Las Vegas, brines chicken wings for 24 hours before roasting and frying them and finishing them in various styles such as Thai peanut. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
New Venetian pool deck
Final touches are currently being added to the hotel’s main tower pool deck, which consists of five pools. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who is Vegas Vic? (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada State Museum Director Dennis McBride explains the origins of the Vegas icon.
Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas serves a 4-pound Big Island Feast Burger
Cindy Sun, general manager of Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas, makes the Big Island Feast Burger with 2 1/2 pounds of the house bacon/beef blend, Napa-cilantro slaw, six slices of American cheese, a can of grilled Spam, six slices of chargrilled pineapple, four fried eggs and a drizzle of teriyaki and serves it with macaroni salad. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Choices of art usually reflect your personal style

There are also many forms of visual art. It’s no wonder that people get so confused when trying to find art pieces for their homes. Usually, if you have a certain style in your home, your choices of art will reflect that.

Four Hands turns to millennials for design

Four Hands, a leading designer and global importer of lifestyle home furnishings, has discovered that its global consumer market is more millennial than baby boomer.