It’s a simple recipe for fun on a summer Saturday: carnival games and prizes for the kids, and good food and conversation for everyone. For the fourth year, HOPE Center hosted a neighborhood celebration with all the camaraderie of a traditional block party, plus added enticements that included pony rides, facepainting, good-natured “gladiator jousting” and the ever-popular bouncy house.
On the afternoon of July 18, supporters new and old gathered at 3400 Elizabeth St. in Denver to celebrate and raise funds for the educational and developmental programs and services of HOPE Center. There was no official speakers’ program or agenda at this event—just fun-focused, nonstop games and activities, with festive food that ranged from grilled burgers and ’dogs to cotton candy and snow cones. Kids tried their hand at games and contests, winning points that resulted in prizes. A handful of organizations and vendors were onsite as well, with information on useful goods and services.
HOPE Center was founded in 1962 with an enrollment of six children and a staff of two teachers in a building at East Montview Boulevard and Syracuse Street. Growth was rapid and the Center subsequently occupied quarters at other locations in Denver, and became a non-profit corporation in 1965. HOPE Center has achieved a distinguished record of helping special-needs children and adults advance intellectually, vocationally, emotionally and socially to become contributing members in their families and productive members of their community. With a current average daily enrollment of over 200 children and 35 adults, and an average staff of 30, HOPE Center is one of the largest community-based organizations in the Denver area. For more information, please visit: www.HopeCenterInc.org.
Overcoming disabilities and life’s challenges was the theme of Bayaud Enterprises’ 23rd Annual MacDonald Family Tribute Luncheon held Wed, May 6 at the Sheraton Downtown with a packed ballroom of more than 325 guests. The keynote speaker was Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen who kept guests chuckling and inspired for easily more than an hour followed with a standing ovation.
The event theme–“Hope, Opportunity and Choice”–flowed throughout the afternoon and reflected the mission of Bayaud Enterprises, a 46-year-old Denver non-profit dedicated to finding work for people with disabilities and other barriers to meaningful work.
Bayaud Executive Director David Henninger thanked guests and sponsors including premiere or Sponsors of Hope: Pat and Janet Wiesner; Sponsors of Opportunity: Ernst and Young, Graham and Cathy Hollis, KeyBank, Rose Pediatrics, Tom and Allison Sandler, and Sheridan Ross PC.
Henninger then introduced and praised the six award winners of the 2015 Tribute Awards in four categories. Every spring Bayaud recognizes individuals and companies who support Bayaud throughout the year.
Donald G. MacDonald Volunteers of the Year: James Boyce and Lauren Kaptain
Van Bruce MacDonald Employee of the Year: Lonnie Schwindt and Susan Williams Robinson
Employer of the Year: Sage Hospitality (accepted by Kathleen Bates, Erica Endorf and Heather Martin)
Later after lunch, 9News Anchor Mark Koebrich introduced six-time Olympic swimming champion Van Dyken-Rouen best known for winning four Olympic medals in Atlanta in 1996 and two in Sydney, Australia in 2000.
Van Dyken-Rouen described her career path as a young awkward asthmatic teen to the agony of missing her first potential Olympics by one-thousandth of a second. She also recounted the fateful day two summers ago in 2014 when she severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. But the smiling and effervescent Olympian insists to her doctors and the public that she expects to walk again. In fact, the wheelchair-bound champion said she expects to be fitted with leg braces and is pursuing a dedicated physical regimen that may make that a reality soon.
Her defiant mantra–“Who do you think you are to tell me what I can or can’t do?”–has become a popular refrain for her many appearances around the country and one that has motivated her since childhood.
Van Dyken-Rouen’s relentless optimism with a foundation of hard work and persistence illustrates the mission of Bayaud’s own goals of promoting economic self-sufficiency, independence, personal health and well-being, and improved quality of life for individuals with disabilities, families experiencing homelessness, and the community.
Created in 1969, Bayaud has provided job training, employment services and vocational support to more than 7,000 people with mental, emotional and physical disabilities over the years. With its current work force of 200 and $7.4 million operating budget, Bayaud has been able to expand its reach to include homeless and low-income individuals and families.
For more information visit bayaudenterprises.org
One of the team members from Operation Walk Denver said humbly, “Sometimes people cross your path who have such endurance, such strength and perseverance….it’s impossible not to feel small.”
Operation Walk surgeons, nurses, therapists, volunteers and supporters often give up their vacation time to join the mission trips to help those in desperate need of medical care in places like Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. A simple thing like walking can be overwhelming if a person has a medical condition or is in a third world country or financial dilemma where there is no help.
Operation Walk Denver is in its 11th year, and hundreds of patients’ lives have been touched during the 16 mission trips; In the past three years, the Denver chapter has performed 47 free hip and knee replacements through their partnership with Operation Walk USA.
The “Walk of Dreams” gala highlighted the successes and challenges that were overcome to make such a difference in people’s lives–humble, grateful people who believed that they would have to spend the rest of their lives crippled because there was no hope or no way out, until Operation Walk came along. Dr. Douglas Dennis and his mission teammates talked about their experiences in helping people who were in such pain that walking after surgery seemed easy. Patients were people who never complained and who kept on caring for their families the best they could, but struggled to even get out of a chair. One man had to crawl down 10 stairs just to get to his bathroom. Every single one of these people may have been poor, but what they didn’t have in material possessions, they made up for with pride. They are people who promised to pray for the angels that presented them with a miracle and let them walk again.
The passion and commitment of the Operation Walk Denver team is incredible. The energy in the room at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center Saturday night was palatable. The humility and grace with which all of these professionals give to other human beings is unparalleled.
There’s no question, the Operation Walk Denver crew members are not “small.” They’re giants.
To find out more about Operation Walk Denver and how you can help, log on to www.operationwalkdenver.org.
Pony rides or the Denver Fire Department fire truck? It’s tough to say which was more popular with the kids at this year’s HOPE Center Community Carnival. No surprise, the biggest congregation of adult females was seen around the firefighters. There definitely was something for everyone at the third annual event held on Saturday, July 19, at the HOPE Center venue in Denver.
Guests munched on popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones and grilled hot dogs, while water and soft drinks helped folks cool off on a hot, summer day. The grounds were full of activity, with carnival games, ponies, bouncy houses and the Denver fire engine on display. Organizers also invited nonprofit organizations to talk with guests about their community services.
When asked if this was a fundraiser, CEO Gerie Grimes simply said, “It’s a friend-raiser.” She explained that while guests paid very modest fees for games and food ($2 could get you a hot dog and beverage), overall the event was a thank-you to HOPE Center’s volunteers, participants and supporters. And with no admission charge, it was also a chance for neighbors to check out the organization while enjoying the carnival games and atmosphere.
HOPE Center is a community-based agency dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, developmental delays and persons in need of specialized educational or vocational services, from ages 2-1/2 years to adulthood. These services are provided in order to develop, maintain and enhance the functioning of each enrollee. The philosophy of service is to admit individuals to programs within the agency which meet their needs and requirements as specifically as possible. For more information, please visit: www.HopeCenterInc.org.
Vegas, baby. Vegas! With masquerade attire, casino games and Mary Louise Lee’s sparkling vocals, HOPE Center’s ninth annual Vintage Vegas Casino Night…All That Glitters was a tribute to the 1930s—a time when legendary musicians introduced jazz to the French. Historic Sherman Street Event Center was a fitting venue as guests outdid themselves with both attire and attitude. At this year’s Million Lights of HOPE fundraiser, women wore glam-plus with sequins and boas, while the men donned fedoras along with Sinatra-cool to celebrate an evening devoted to the organization’s mission of helping children from low socio-economic backgrounds and adults with developmental disabilities succeed.
CBS4 favorite Gloria Neal served as a dynamic emcee, while Debbie Stafford energized the live-auction portion of the evening. The Mary Louise Lee Band added sumptuous sounds for listening and dancing throughout the evening, as guests perused the silent auction, played blackjack, roulette and craps, and nosed on tasty tidbits from Michael’s of Denver Catering. Colorado Rep. Angela Williams was recognized for her longtime support, while President/CEO Gerie Grimes and board chair C.T. Smith presented the “Light of Hope” award to CSU Denver Extension 4-H, and Outstanding Service awards to: Denver Sheriff Department’s Christmas Crusade, Concerts for Kids and US Bank.
HOPE Center provides high-quality and nationally accredited ECE programs to at-risk children, children with developmental disabilities/delays and inner-city children who are gifted. Its nationally accredited vocational program provides basic skills, work services, job training and a placement program for adults with disabilities. Most served at HOPE Center come from low socio-economic families, many at below federal poverty guidelines. For more information, please visit www.hopecenterinc.org.