Researchers recently have confirmed that elephants are capable– much like humans –of compassion and empathy–not just for friends and family, but for other animals outside the herd. For example, when elephants sense a distressed elephant, they help others with a touch of the trunk and unique sounds to express compassion.

So, perhaps it’s fitting that an elephant served as the logo or symbol of this year’s 2014 Wine and Dine event that benefits Horizons, a 6-week program at Colorado Academy for low-income and at-risk students who need a boost to reach their goals.

Horizons assists Denver Public Schools students who otherwise might fall through the cracks due to economic barriers and family commitments that may lead to a dropout problem. The summer program offers six Saturdays during the school year for kids from low-income families to come and work on learning and social strategies to enhance their self-esteem and academic performance.

The annual fundraiser benefitting Horizons attracted more than 300 supporters for the 2014 Cirque de Horizons event at the Colorado Academy Thursday night, February 20th at the school’s campus. Alumni of all ages representing school classrooms 5 to 20 years ago arrived to show their support and to meet with old friends, teachers and school administrators. They gathered to feast on an eclectic sampling of buffet treats provided by various restaurants including Ace, Colt and Gray, Blake Street Tavern, Gourmet to Go, Lime, Mad Greens, Steubens, Vesta Dipping Grill, City Bakery and a menu items from the school itself.

The head of the school Dr. Michael Davis, Horizon’s Board Co-Chair Olga Garcia and Executive Director Ingrid Moore graciously greeted guests as they arrived to the French Circus themed party. Colorado Academy Administrators Sharlene Funk, Tamara Barron, Kathy Fenley, Alice Rydberg, Judy Zinn and others joined in the festivities while Horizon’s Board Co-Chair Jim Kidder shared toasts with Principal Bill Wolf-Tinsman and Olga Garcia, joined Susana Lopez and Lisa Riley.

Colorado Academy teachers and staffers arrived in full force. Among them were: Charles Coleman, Mary Hatfield, Carrie VonderHaar and Suzanne Kolsun, Kass Patterson, Amber Price, Debra Pritchard, Diana Giarusso, Elissa Wolf-Tinsman and many others. Many donors, supporters and alumni included Gretchen Kneen, a planning associate at IFM Capital and board member of Rocky Mountain Parents as Teachers; attorney Frank Ingham and Sarah Ingham; Britta Miles, Lizzie Rockmore, Dave Pinkert, and Dr. Eliza Buyers.

Event Co-Chairs Rachel Aguirre, Laura Lee Gastis & Denise Kay roamed the room meeting and attending to guests. Hundreds of silent auction items kept patrons busy deciding between unique bottles of wine, exotic vacations, sports memorabilia, concert and movie passes, artworks, custom photographs, paintings, and even a wide variety of baskets of toys for the kids at home. Colorado Academy student performers juggled balls and bowling pins to entertain the crowd.

Per tradition at the event, the keynote speakers were past Horizons students.
Brother and sister Horizon graduates Edith and Hilario Garfio thanked the guests for their support and described their favorite classes and field trips that gave them the energy and curiosity to pursue college. “Horizons helped us get out of our comfort zone through camping and visiting the Butterfly Pavilion or studying abroad in Barcelona,” Edith said. “I know now that I can go anywhere in the world and learn many new things.”

Founded in 1906, Colorado Academy this year celebrates its 108th anniversary. By nurturing potential and fostering a safe and supportive community, Horizons helps those who might otherwise not be able to achieve their professional career dreams. And, by creating year-round academic, artistic, and athletic opportunities students are free to pursue their goals with passion and self-confidence. For more information visit www.coloradoacademy.org/horizons