BOULDER, Colo. –
With a roaring finale fit for a symphony, more than 550 bell ringers who filled a field at New Vista High School in Boulder on Saturday helped a single mother fighting cancer, and likely shattered a world record.
“I’m absolutely speechless,” said Alys Hansen, 19. “You can feel the love and the energy of all these people.”
Alys, the oldest daughter of Leson Dunkley-Hansen, said she never expected so many people to show up to support her mother.
Dunkley-Hansen, a single mother of four and a former teacher at Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies, was diagnosed last year with breast cancer that has spread to her brain and lungs.
Cynthia Carosella, a close friend who’s organized several fundraisers to support the family while Dunkley-Hansen can’t work, organized the bell-ringing event to raise money â and to try and break the Guinness World Record for the “largest bicycle-bell ensemble.”
“We are giving back to Leson all the gifts she’s given to our children,” Carosella said. “I hate to see that she’s in a financially-difficult situation while battling cancer.”
Breaking the record for the most people ringing bike bells at once to a recognizable song for at least five minutes, Carosella said, was a fun way to help her friend.
Toward that end, hundreds of people lined up Saturday to pay $10 each for a black bicycle bell tuned to one of six tones.
Divided into groups, the bell ringers took direction from David Harris, a Boulder composer, who led them through renditions of “You Are My Sunshine,” “Over the Rainbow” and “Do Re Mi.”
To make sure they broke the record, held by a German group comprised of 503 bell ringers, the group performed a five-minute original piece written by Harris to honor Dunkley-Hansen called, “Suite pour Leson.”
Leson, who could not attend the event because she was hospitalized, heard the news by phone.
“We just broke the world record,” yelled Phil Katsampes, principal of BCSIS.
The record attempt needs to be certified by Guinness judges before it becomes official, Katsampes said.
The event raised a total of $18,200 in donations and grants, organizers said.
Austin Hansen, 15, read a note from his mom to the crowd that said, “I’ve felt held by all of you. It’s been a beautiful gift.”
James Hansen, 18, was on a school trip to Guatemala this week but flew back to Boulder for the fundraiser.
“I haven’t been able to stop grinning,” he said. “There are so many people I haven’t even met. It’s amazing.”