The Home Front Cares Veterans Cup 2016

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As one golfer at The Home Front Cares Veteran’s Cup tournament mused, “I’d like to live here!” –such was the sentiment from the participants in the tournament once again held at the beautiful Sanctuary (presented by Re/Max) golf course in Sedalia.

With the waterfalls, sweeping vistas, glorious views and challenging tees, the participants didn’t really care how they golfed–it was enough to be in such a magnificent place, have fun, and support such a great cause.

As if spending the day in as close to Nirvana as you can get in Colorado, the golfers later enjoyed a scrumptious buffet served up by Sanctuary staff and learned who the winners were in the tournament. Executive Director April Speake welcomed everyone, and major supporter Jay Warwick (who consistently gives not a portion, but ALL of his designated day’s sales at his HuHot Mongolian Grill to THFC) told attendees why he does this–according to him “it’s just something you do…it’s not optional.”

Most tournament and prize winners donated their prizes back to veterans in attendance. It’s just another way to thank them for their service.

The Home Front Cares provides emergency and responsive support and grants for Colorado’s military members, veterans and their families, who have been impacted by service to our Nation. In fiscal year 2016, they provided over $400,000 in grants in Colorado to more than 300 veterans, service members and their families.They provided resource coordination to over 1,200 clients so that they could find the emotional, financial or vocational hope and help they needed to get back on track. Whether it’s a utility bill or a car installment or a house payment, veterans need not feel alone and often the assistance that THFC gives is enough to give them that step up to be OK.

It’s the least we can do for those who serve for us and our country, and as Jay Warwick reminds us, “it is not optional.”

For more information about THFC, log on to www.thehomefrontcares.org.

For the Love of Our Troops XI

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Taya Kyle

Taya Kyle knows adversity. Since the tragic death of her husband Chris, who was a Navy SEAL, world-renowned marksman and best selling author of the book (the basis for the popular movie)  “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History,” Taya has taken the lessons she has learned through her experiences with him and made it her personal mission to help others by sharing.

chris kyle image

Chris Kyle

Taya was on hand at The Home Front Care’s annual fundraising dinner at the Broadmoor Hotel on Friday night. THFC provides assistance to Colorado service members, veterans and their families. She formed an instant camaraderie with guests–especially the Gold Star wives in attendance–because she can identify with loss, grief, feelings of helplessness and loneliness. She is living proof that no matter how bad things may seem in the darkest hour, it is possible to come out of that tunnel and shine.

Taya has written a book of her own: “American Wife.” She has become an accomplished leader and speaker about the challenges facing veterans, first responders and their families. “I believe in paying it forward,” she said. “One small act of kindness can mean the world to someone. We’ve lived it. My family has benefitted from it and we try to do the same for others.”

The Home Front Cares agrees. Founders Bob Carlone and Joe Henjum, two Air Force colonels and Vietnam veterans, established THFC in 2003 because they recognized the need to help deployed military members’ families through the myriad of struggles and bureaucary. THFC mission has expanded to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, especially those with disabilities.

Three awards were given during the reception: Rita Worster was awarded THFC Chairman’s Award; Jay Cimino was given the Hero Award; and the Bob Carlone Military Community Service Award went to El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition.

Since inception, THFC has raised more than $7.6 million to help Colorado veterans and their families. To find out how you can help, log on to www.thehomefrontcares.org.

john haaren

RIP, John Haaren

RMHS Honors Military Heroes During Veterans Day Weekend Gala

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One man is training to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, another is a Medal of Honor recipient who demonstrated exceptional bravery during battle. A third has spent the past 35 years working tirelessly for fellow veterans’ rights and honor. Hearing their stories is a moving experience, but the opportunity to meet these military heroes is quite another. The 3rd annual Rocky Mountain Human Services Gala provided that and more, held during Veterans Day weekend to honor and thank those who have served.

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

On Saturday, Nov. 8, more than 500 people from all walks of life got together to show their support for RMHS, both emotionally and monetarily. Funds raised were earmarked for expanding the organization’s military and veterans programs—RMHS is the largest Colorado nonprofit serving veterans with wrap-around care.

The evening began with a sunset VIP reception on the penthouse level of the Hyatt Regency DTC. A short program featured awards for Judge David Shakes and Dr. James Schraa for their individual work with RMHS military and veterans programs. Speakers included Annie Davies, director of communications and development; CEO Stephen Block; Dr Erin Wilkinson, director of military and veterans programs; and event co-chair Peter Burg. Other gala co-chairs were Sandy Burg, and Steve and Sharon Binder.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

A reception in the atrium was augmented with a spectrum of items up for bid in the silent auction—a live auction with experiential packages was held later in the evening. The dinner program was highlighted by Lt. Col. Dick Merritt (Ret.) receiving the Loyalty Beyond Service Award and John Vaught accepting the Community Partners Award on behalf of the Colorado Bar Association. Dob Bennett, who co-founded Operation TBI Freedom with wife Debbie, spoke about his organization’s successes. After dinner, keynote speaker and Medal of Honor recipient SSG Clinton Romesha had the crowd riveted during his talk.

Rocky Mountain Human Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves nearly 10,000 individuals, including more than 2,000 professionals and 7,500 Colorado and Wyoming residents through seven distinct programs. In 2012, the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary, changing its name from Denver Options to Rocky Mountain Human Services to reflect the expansion of services throughout Colorado. The organization’s goal is to serve vulnerable populations throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Currently, RMHS serves:
•Children with developmental delays and disabilities
•Adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities
•Adults who live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
•Military personnel and veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan with a TBI
•Veterans in need of employment assistance or who are homeless or in jeopardy of losing their homes
•Families who are striving to break the cycle of poverty
•Professionals who seek to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual challenges
•Professionals who seek to provide the highest quality services for individuals with developmental disabilities

Block writes: “RMHS’s expansion in the military and veteran programs during the last seven years is a natural extension of our work with vulnerable populations, allowing us to create a world of compassion and hope for those whose lives personify our mission of service to others.” For more information about RMHS, go online at: www.RMHumanServices.org, and to learn more about veterans programs, please visit: www.RMHumanServices.org/MVP.

TAPS Dinner Concert in the Key of G(enerosity)

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When can an event for 400 feel like a family reunion? When it’s the annual Celebrity Dinner Concert to benefit TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). No bad luck for these guests on Friday, June 13—far from it. With down-home chow and entertainment at Steve Grove’s Ranch at Cherry Creek, the ninth annual barn party was nothing but pure enjoyment designed to benefit and bring together supporters for surviving family members of fallen military heroes.

Event co-founders Lynne and Bo Cottrell have raised $3 million for TAPS in nine years.

Event co-founders Lynne and Bo Cottrell have raised $3 million for TAPS in nine years.

This has to be one of the easiest events to attend. Guest vehicles were parked by Jay’s Valet, then they walked inside the event barn to pick up an auction number, had a chance to peruse the silent auction and head outdoors to pick up oh-so-delectable prime-rib-dinner delights prepared by Texas-based Coors Cowboy Club. During dinner, guests were treated to a spirited musical set by WildeFire (Tony David, Pam Hughes and Kerry Edwards).

Event co-chairs Kevin Kreymborg and Linda Cavanagh

Event co-chairs Kevin Kreymborg and Linda Cavanagh

Linda Cavanagh and Kevin Kreymborg served as event chairs, and KOA radio morning host Steffan Tubbs emceed a dinner program featuring an informational video and a short talk by TAPS founder and president Bonnie Carroll. She was joined on stage by development fundraiser Ron Spratt to honor Colorado event founders Bo and Lynne Cottrell with TAPS’ highest honor, the Soldiers Cross. In its nine-year history, the Cottrell’s annual weekend event has raised $3 million for TAPS programs, the most raised outside of Washington, D.C. Volunteers of the Year, Tom Tarver and Jewell Hargrave, were recognized for their hard work, and auctioneer Roger Sierens took over for a live auction full of enticements.

Jimmy Fortune wowed the crowd.

Jimmy Fortune wowed the crowd.

Guests continually showed their generosity with high bids on niceties, as well as the chance to donate money to fund specific programs and events for TAPS survivors. Ralph Achilles had the crowd laughing with a comedy set, then Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Fortune took the stage. The talented singer-songwriter-musician, who toured with the Statler Brothers for 21 years, thoroughly entertained with toe-tappin’ favorites. Well-known names spotted in the audience included: actor John Ashton, Denver Nuggets TV analyst Bill Hanzlik, American Furniture Warehouse president Jake Jabs, KOA radio host Mike Rosen, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and State Sen. Nancy Todd. Carroll writes that TAPS is marking its 20th year as American’s frontline resource for help, hope and healing. Since 1994, the organization has provided compassionate support to more than 50,000 survivors, casualty offices and caregivers. “We connect with one another, survivors helping survivors, to form a loving family where grieving hearts find strength for their journey, and know they are not alone.” On the weekend’s events in Colorado: “We will have memories that last well beyond these few days…Through the fellowship, camaraderie and compassion shared this weekend, hearts will be lifted, lives will be changed and hope will be discovered.” To learn more, please visit: www.TAPS.org. For more information about the Cottrell’s annual Colorado weekend of events, please go to: http://www.TAPS.org/classic.

2013 Tribute to a Fighter Pilot

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Last night, September 28th, Colorado honored the 120th Fighter Squadron. 120 FS is a unit of the Colorado Air National Guard, which is located at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora Colorado. The “REDEYES,” as they are called, are a descendant organization of the World War I 120th Aero Squadron who began service on June 27th, 1923. In 1946, they became the first Air National Guard unit to obtain federal recognition, which sparked the motto, “FIRST IN THE AIR GUARD.” The Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum honored the aviation heroes for their knowledge and flight skills. Attendants were encouraged to listen to these legendary heroes as they shared their war stories about the 120th Fighter Squadron’s 90 years of service.

Guests enjoyed a happy hour like setting with stories along with a “triple threat” potato bar, “flying high” buffet display, and a “go in” dessert display.

B-17 Hangar Dance Propels Wings Over the Rockies

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Outdoing the “White Christmas” movie scene of a backstage wall opening to reveal Christmas Eve snow, around 400 aviation fans were treated to huge hangar doors raised to an outdoor scene of a magnificent WWII B-17 bomber and a stunning Colorado mountain sunset. It was all part of Wings Over the Rockies’ B-17 Hangar Dance on Saturday, June 8, at Signature Flight Support’s huge space at Centennial Airport. The dress code embraced the romance of the air, suggesting 1940s costumes and aviator uniforms, while the “flight plan” for the event was full of entertainment, history and a bit of education.

The west doors opened up to a gorgeous Colorado sunset.

The west doors opened up to a gorgeous Colorado sunset.

The evening began with no less than eight caterers serving up tasty tidbits even as the outdoor runway area beckoned with ground tours of the vintage B-17 “Flying Fortress”—a lucky few were able to purchase next-day rides on the aircraft. Groove Machine provided background music that enticed some dance moves early on. Guests then gathered as one in the hangar for a program dedicated to Wings’ plans for a second location at Centennial Airport supported by a fundraising plan called Wingspan, as well as a short video about the museum’s history, plus a tribute to the 90th anniversary of the Colorado Air National Guard.

Speakers included Wings CEO and President Greg Anderson, as well as COO Dave Kerr. Personable Brig. Gen. Trulan Ayre, commander of the 140th Wing of the COANG, discussed the organization’s history and purpose. Those recognized as the newest members of the Wingspan initiative were: Bret, Cathy and Tyler Packard; Robb and Masako James; and August and Kathy Geise. After the hangar doors opened to the outside runway area, musical group Pink Champagne took the stage with a tribute to The Andrews Sisters that had many in the the crowd on the dance floor in no time.

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is on a mission to educate and inspire people of all ages about aviation and space endeavors of the past, present and future. Located in Lowry (an Air Force base-turned-neighborhood), the museum continually adds interactive exhibits to its extensive array of military aircraft and space-and-rocketry displays, its research library and onsite gift shop. The venue also hosts school programs plus special events, this year ranging from air-and-space summer camps to an Air Force Tops in Blue Concert. For more information, please go online to www.WingsMuseum.org.