Wine & Wags: Best in Show For Children's Hospital Pet Program


Every dog has its day, and at this year’s Wine & Wags around a dozen canines, as well as their people, were honored for their great work at Children’s Hospital Colorado. There were doggie treats and pats for the puppies, and plenty of delectable wines and tasty tidbits for two-legged friends and supporters. On Monday, Sept. 11, the fourth annual friendraiser for Children’s Prescription Pet Program attracted a pack of positive people and pooches at Kuni Lexus in Greenwood Village. Hot diggety dog!

(l to r): Jeff Toussaint, Bee Bennett and Wade Bennett

At check-in, each guest received a paw-print bracelet and a pebble from Creekside Elementary School students of second-grade teacher Kathy Paulson. She and her class organized a fundraiser for the pet program after a visit from one of the PPP dogs, selling dog-themed items along with some heart-felt monetary donations that raised more than $650. One of the many lessons Paulson taught her students was about the ripple effect of giving, and she urged guests to keep their pebbles as a reminder to do good deeds in their own lives.

Event founder Lyn Schaffer (left) and veteran Prescription Pet Program team Darby Kelly and Cormac

Pet Program founder Sara Mark, DVM, and event organizer Lyn Schaffer also addressed the group, and went on to recognize reps from Chewy’s Bonetique, Biscuits and Berries Catering, and Kuni Lexus for their continued support. The program ended with giveaways that included a dog-themed travel tote and a children’s book “paw-tographed” by each volunteer PPP dog-and-owner team.

The Prescription Pet Program (first in the nation) is a dog-assisted therapy and visitation program that began in 1984 as a cooperative effort of Children’s Colorado and the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society (DAVMS). As part of the program, specially trained volunteer dog owners take their dogs on rounds at Children’s Colorado. All Prescription Pet dogs have passed a vigorous screening and have been approved by veterinarians who volunteer their time.

Mimi Kroger, with Hugs

The dogs’ visits with patients can range from a few minutes or longer, depending on the child’s response. The dogs also assist the medical staff in the psychiatric units and, as needed, in the physical rehabilitation department. Patients can request a dog visit, and prospective volunteers can apply for the program by calling the Volunteer Office at 720-777-6887. To learn more, please visit:

An Evening of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research


At age 15, he developed an early-detection test for pancreatic cancer, even after a slew of rejections from potential mentors. Experimenting with a small amount of nitro glycerin, he inadvertently blew a 40-foot crater in his own backyard—and put his family on an FBI watch list. Amazing wunderkind Jack Andraka was the fascinating keynote speaker at An Evening of Hope, this year’s Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research fundraiser. Founder Maureen Shul told guests she discovered him on a broadcast of 60 Minutes and “stalked him” until he agreed to make an appearance in Denver.

Representatives of sponsor Aircraft Performance Group (APG) at the reception

Representatives of sponsor Aircraft Performance Group (APG) at the reception

On Saturday, June 18, more than 200 supporters gathered at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus for a casual reception and silent auction. Shul said the event was focused on pancreatic-cancer research, so what better place to be? Guests made their way to the auditorium, where energetic Gary Corbett served as event emcee and auctioneer for five big-ticket items up for bid. Shul told the crowd the event was designed to show the present state of pancreatic cancer, as well as the possibilities to be gained with more research. Also addressing the crowd: Colin Weekes, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medical oncology, as well as Richard Schulick, M.D., M.B.A., professor and chair of the department of surgery, both at CU-Anschutz. The evening ended with a booksigning for “Breakthrough,” authored by Andraka.

Gary Corbett (left), supported by event speakers, makes an appeal for individual donations at the live auction.

Gary Corbett (left), supported by event speakers, makes an appeal for individual donations at the live auction.

From an early age, Jack Andraka was enormously curious about everything to do with science. Before grade school, his parents, with backgrounds in medicine and engineering, taught him the rudiments of scientific methods. It was the death of a close family friend caused by pancreatic cancer that focused Andraka’s energy and brilliance in trying to find a way to detect the disease in its early stages. His test, developed at age 15, costs three cents and five minutes to run—400 times more effective than the previous detection method used by medical professionals. Among a slew of awards, Andraka was honored with the 2014 Jefferson Award, the nation’s most prestigious public-service recognition, and was First Lady Michelle Obama’s personal guest at the State of the Union Address. Andraka recently completed his first year at Stanford University under a grant from National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and conducts research on nanorobots and inkjet-printed biosensors for environmental contaminants and diseases.

Wings of Hope was founded in 2012 by Maureen Shul after losing her brother and mother to pancreatic cancer within months of each other. In 2013, the University of Colorado Cancer Center entered into a formal partnership with her foundation, with all efforts and proceeds going directly toward raising awareness and funding for the the pancreatic cancer research at Anschutz Medical Campus. Wings of Hope has raised approximately $400,000 since its creation. For more information, please visit:

Denver Auto Show Charity Preview Party

The 8th Annual Charity Preview Party is the premier event of the Denver Auto Show and benefits locally-based non-profit organizations.  Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/GM John Elway, and his wife, Paige Elway, were the 2016 VIP chairs. “The automotive industry has played an important role in my life. In fact, some of the first businesses I owned after my pro football career were my new car dealerships.” said Elway.

Ribbon-cutting with John and Paige Elway

Ribbon-cutting with John and Paige Elway

Guests at the exclusive event had private access to the entire Denver Auto Show floor prior to its opening to the public.  The event was held on the show floor at the Colorado Convention Center, which showcases 400,000 square feet of technological innovations of the latest car and truck models.  The 2016 Charity Preview Party provides the first glimpse of the Denver Auto Show, the largest consumer show of its kind between Chicago and Los Angeles.

This year’s theme was “Motown Meets Mile High” which captured the spirit of the Motor City and the sights and sounds of the 1960s-70s. The event began with a Chairman’s champagne toast & industry reception at 7 p.m. to kick off the evening, followed by live entertainment, and vintage cars from the Motown era.

More than 1,000 dealership owners, regional executives, general managers, sales managers, finance directors, service managers and allied suppliers attended this annual fundraising event benefiting CADA’s Clear the Air Foundation, National Jewish Health and the Denver Post Community Foundation.

  • Since 1899, National Jewish Health has been at the forefront of research and medicine known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders, and for ground breaking medical research.
  • The Clear the Air Foundation (CTAF) represents the charitable and educational foundation created by Colorado’s new car dealers.  CTAF supports projects that include the removal of high-emitting, old vehicles from Colorado’s traffic ways to enable replacement with newer, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient cars.
  • The Denver Post Community Foundation has invested a value of more than $6.5 million in local nonprofit organizations and events over the past year. Through the grants, sponsorships, in-kind advertising, signature events and volunteerism, the Denver Post Community Foundation strives to make a significant difference in the community.

For more information visit

Circle of Light Photo Display Celebrates the Gift of Sight


Imagine trying to simply tie a shoelace when you see it (and everything else) as only an unrecognizable mass. Then imagine the miraculous results achieved by corneal transplants that allow patients to see. At this year’s Circle of Light reception and photo display, guests could take part in, quite literally, an eye-opening, interactive “corneal blindness experience” to help understand the journey of corneal-transplant patients. Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) hosted the fundraiser that featured photographs taken by cornea recipients who went from blindness to sight. Their subject matter? The things they are most grateful to see.

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John's work "Fish."

Cornea-transplant photographer John and Patsy Capra by John’s work “Fish.”

On Thursday, March 10, almost 200 RMLEB supporters attended the annual reception and photo display held at Space Gallery, beginning with an hour-long VIP champagne soiree. Guests included doctors, sponsors, cornea recipients and donor families—all able to appreciate the artistry and finesse of the photographs, as well as the story of each photographer. The photos were available for purchase throughout the evening as part of the silent auction, which also included travel and entertainment packages, and some winning sports collectibles.

Everyday tasks aren't so easy, as this "corneal blindness experience" guest discovers.

Everyday tasks aren’t so easy, as this “corneal blindness experience” guest discovers.

The exhibit photos were part of the eye bank’s Circle of Light Photo Project, taken by people from all around the state who received cornea transplants from an eye donor in Colorado or Wyoming. Through this project, recipients have a chance to give back, honor their donor and show the world just how big an impact tissue donations can be. All proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, the nonprofit organization responsible for keeping its promise to help others see again through eye, organ and tissue donation.

Cornea transplants are a cure for corneal blindness, which accounts for about 10 percent of all blindness. Each year, approximately 600 people in Colorado and Wyoming receive sight-restorative transplants. In 2015, the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank facilitated the donation and transplantation of corneas from 2,355 eye donors in Colorado and Wyoming—those donations resulted in 2,220 sight-restorative transplants. Since 1982, RMLEB has facilitated over 40,000 transplants.

RMLEB, the recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming, continues to serve eye donors and their families, and provides for sight-saving transplantation locally, nationally and worldwide. For more information, please visit:

Beaux Arts Rock 'N' Roll Ball Kick-off Reception

The Beaux Arts Ball presented by Morgridge Family Foundation is a black-tie gala and one of the most anticipated social galas in Denver, raising over $2 million each year to support National Jewish Health, the leading respiratory hospital in the nation.  The kick-off reception was held at the Governor’s residence at the Boettcher Mansion on Wednesday, February, 3, 2016.  “We look to raise $2 million dollars for National Jewish Health, with the support of our friends, sponsors, and board, we will hit our goal.” said Clem Connolly, Associate National Director, Special Events, National Jewish Health.

The 2016 Grand Marshall honorees were on hand for the event: Libby Anschutz, Janie and David Eves, and Rebecca and Lewis Kling.  Libby Anschutz and her band, Tracksuit Wedding, entertained the guests with rock ‘n’ roll hits.  The 200 guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

The Beaux Arts Rock ‘N’ Roll Ball will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.  The event starts at 6 p.m. with cocktails and dinner at 7 p.m.  Tickets start at $500 and sponsorships range from $5,000 to $100,000.

Founded 117 years ago as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish Health today is the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to groundbreaking medical research and treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders.  National Jewish Health is known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders, and for groundbreaking medical research. Founded in 1899 as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish Health remains the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to these disorders. U.S. News & World Report has ranked National Jewish Health as the number one or number two hospital in pulmonology on its Best Hospitals list ever since pulmonology was included in the rankings.

For more information visit:

Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council Holiday Party

The Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council celebrated its Holiday party on Thursday, December 10 at Zio’s.  Guests enjoyed live music, food from Tony P’s Pizza and won raffle prizes.  American Facility Services Group President/CEO Jerry Natividad was the sponsor of the event.  “What I love about this organization is this is about business, when we network and interact and we’re able to share business cards with one another. At the end of the day, we end up doing business with one another, that’s what is phenomenal about being part of the Council.” said Jerry Natividad, President/CEO of American Facility Services Group.

Jerry Natividad talking to the guests

Jerry Natividad talking to the guests

The mission of the Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council is to provide Corporate America and Government entities with greater access to the goods and services of Minority-owned business in order to develop lasting and mutually beneficial business relationships. As an affiliate regional council of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) serving Colorado, Kansas, Western Missouri, and Nebraska we provide a direct link between Corporate America and Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native American owned businesses.

The Mountain Plains MSDC was originally incorporated in 1974 as Minority Enterprises, Inc. after executives from corporations in the Rocky Mountain region came together at the Denver Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future of minority business in Colorado. Meeting on a monthly basis, these individuals formed the Executive Task Force, which eventually became the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council.

(l-r) Ron Montoya, Jerry Natividad, Stanley Sena, Preisdent/CEO Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council

(l-r) Ron Montoya, Jerry Natividad, Stanley Sena, Preisdent/CEO Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council

Today there are over 130 local corporations and government entities involved with the council, and over 500 minority-owned businesses certified with the Mountain Plains MSDC. Several of these certified MBEs have grown to the level of Fortune 500 companies and achieved Corporate Plus status with the NMSDC. Through the extensive certification process, corporate member support, free networking events, educational programs and supplier diversity initiatives MPMSDC strives to develop minority-owned businesses to their full potential. For more information, please visit:

Jewish Family Service's Real Hope...Helping Real People


It would be a fun party any time of year, but Jewish Family Service’s Real Hope truly shines during the holiday season. On Thursday, Dec. 10, the 20th annual fundraiser attracted a spirited group of supporters to eat, drink and be festive on the United Club Level at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. December weather in Denver is often fickle, but partygoers enjoyed an unseasonably warm evening—perfect for those who traveled from out of town to attend the event.

The evening began by honoring the fifth night of Hanukkah, with songs and the lighting of a menorah by Rabbi Steven Foster. From there, guests went on to nosh on small plates and passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Epicurean Catering. Open bars and four serving stations with an array of delectable bites dotted the space, and a red-carpet photo area gave partygoers the opportunity to mark the occasion with smiles and sassy poses. Talented band members of Digital Pocket provided plenty of upbeat tunes to accent the atmosphere throughout the reception. Guests were then flamboyantly ushered into the awards program area by lavishly costumed performers of Traveling Performers.

Emcee Steven Peckar was a gracious host, reminding the audience that monetary contributions to JFS were welcomed by writing out his own check donation on stage. JFS president and CEO Yana Vishnitsky talked to the crowd about the good works of the organization, and introduced a short video presentation. Event honorees were Adam J. Agron, Kal Zeff Business Leader of the Year, and Andrea Stillman, recipient of the Jack Shapiro Community Service Award. The two were introduced by Vishnitsky and board chair Jane E. Rosenbaum, respectively. After the program? More party food, of course! Guests were able to relax with sumptuous desserts and coffee, as they continued to talk and enjoy the camaraderie and holiday mood of the evening.

Jewish Family Service of Colorado believes in strengthening the community by providing vital services to people in need. Every day, JFS helps people overcome life’s challenges to live fuller, more meaningful lives. Founded in 1872, JFS is a nonsectarian, nonprofit human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder. JFS helps seniors lie independently at home, provides quality mental health counseling, offers training and job placement to those with developmental disabilities and other barriers to employment, and provides food and financial aid to people in crisis. Every year, the agency benefits nearly 25,000 people of all ages, faiths, incomes and abilities. For more information, call 303-597-5000, visit, and follow JFS on Facebook and Twitter.

Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network Celebrates "Shine On" Success


How much fun is it to get together after a super-successful event? Ask the committee members who participated in this year’s Shine On gala in October with guest speaker Mariel Hemingway. The landmark event for Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network not only celebrated its 60th anniversary, but also produced significant contributions for the organization–both kudos and currency continue to come in.

Daniel Kopnisky hugs Jan Hammond

Daniel Kopnisky hugs Jan Hammond

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, ADMHN staff hosted an upbeat reception for gala co-chairs and committee members at The Palm Denver to express their gratitude for a job very well done. Guests noshed on hors d’oeuvres and beverages, and had an opportunity to chat and catch up, with lots of hugs shared among guests.

During a short program, Executive Director/CEO Joan DiMaria was quite sincere in her praise for the work put into the event, as well as the subsequent positive results. Gala co-chairs Cindi Burge and Kay Burke also expressed their appreciation for the committee’s efforts, singling out numerous people in attendance. Even as they basked in their success, staff and committee members reported they were on to the next activities and events designed to support the spectrum of mental health programs and services of ADMHN.

Committtee member and sponsor Linda Christie-Horn (left), with Keri Christiansen

Committtee member and sponsor Linda Christie-Horn (left), with Keri Christiansen

The core mission of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network is to promote individual, family and community wellness by providing exceptional, compassionate, responsive, inclusive and integrated behavioral healthcare.

ADMHN Values
• Behavioral health is health; it is an integral part of the well-being of individuals of all ages and is fundamental to the quality of life of our entire community.
• We maintain a commitment to provide accessible and responsive care in a consistent, professional and compassionate manner that is accountable, recovery-based and client focused.
• We aspire to be leaders in healthcare by encouraging and supporting continual professional education and staff development.
• We believe that trust and mutual respect toward our coworkers, clients and community is fundamental to the growth and development of our organization.
• We believe that community education that fosters an understanding of mental health and substance abuse disorders reinforces the successful delivery of behavioral health services and creates strong professional, civic and financial support.
• We believe that business and care goals must be adaptive to advances in treatment practices and changes in funding, including the integration of mental health, substance use and medical services.
• We believe that financial and professional accountability among ourselves, our clients, our business partners and community are vital to the success of our mission.
• We strive to be fully inclusive of all cultures in our community and responsive to their unique needs for successful treatment and recovery.
• We are committed to continual data assessment for the measurement of improvement for our clients’ health, staff efficiency and growth as a business.

To read about this year’s Shine On gala, please go to: For more information about ADMHN, please visit: or call 303-730-8858.

National Jewish Health Hosts Cocktails with Class

The 2015 Cocktails with Class helped benefit the chronically ill children of Morgridge Academy. Guests were surrounded by panoramic mountain views from the rooftop marketplace at DaVita, and spent the night enjoying signature cocktails from high-end distilleries, varietal wines and local craft beer.

This event supports Morgridge Academy for Chronically Ill Children on the campus of National Jewish Health.   The Morgridge Academy on the campus of National Jewish Health is a unique, day school program for approximately 90 students in grades K-8 who require medical assistance during the normal school day. The school is approved by the Colorado Department of Education and is located on the grounds of National Jewish Health in Denver. Children who attend the school have medical problems, which have caused frequent absences from regular school.

The children at Morgridge Academy suffer from serious respiratory diseases, including asthma. Others have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell anemia and heart problems. Because of their serious illnesses, these children require immediate access to medical attention. The majority of the children are from low-income and minority neighborhoods in Denver’s inner city.

The evening featured music, games, prizes and coveted silent auctions items.  Avalanche tickets, United Airlines tickets and dinner at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox were a few of the auction items at Cocktails with Class, benefiting Morgridge Academy at National Jewish Health.   Guests enjoyed eclectic small plates and desserts from The Palm Restaurant and danced the night away to live music by The JV3, a popular Denver pop-rock cover band.  Bret Saunders from KBCO was the emcee for the event.

The researchers, physicians and patient-care staff at National Jewish Health provide world-class care to people who suffer from respiratory, immune and related diseases, including asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, allergic disease and heart disease. National Jewish Health has a substantial impact on healthcare beyond the patients it sees. Ground-breaking research conducted at National Jewish Health advances the frontier of medical care for everyone in their search for cures for the life- threatening diseases they treat. For more information visit

Remembering Brooke Wunnicke


Remembering Brooke Wunnicke: Legal Community Rallies To Raise Funds for Memorial CU Law Scholarship Fund

The Brooke Wunnicke (1918 – 2014) Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee hosted an October reception to honor and toast the memory of a legal pioneer woman. Brooke Wunnicke practiced trial and appellate law for over 60 years with an unwavering commitment to ethics that has left an indelible mark on the legal profession.  In addition to her legal practice, Wunnicke was an adjunct professor at DU’s Sturm College of Law, a published author, an expert witness, and a national speaker on legal ethics and professionalism.

Committee Co-Chairs Mark Fogg and Dave Stark each paid tribute to Brooke’s excellence as a lawyer, mentor and friend.  Bob Kapelke and Brenda Taylor collaborated to add both humorous and musical tributes of their own during the memorial that was attended by Brooke’s daughter, Diane Wunnicke. Stories were told including how Brooke graduated with a JD from CU Law in 1945 and opened her Cheyenne practice in 1946, representing clients in front of juries when Wyoming women (the first state to allow women to vote) were not even allowed to be jurors. Some say, Brooke fought discrimination by winning again and again for her clients in trials and over 250 appeals in state and federal courts and other areas of law. In her later years, Brooke practiced law at Hall & Evans until she retired at 92. H&E, represented at the reception by Walter Downing and Mike Jones, has donated $50,000 to the fund.

The memorial event was held on the 45th Floor of Republic Plaza in the offices of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell where guests could enjoy the autumn sunset and refreshments. Michael O’Donnell serves on the Wunnicke Scholarship Fund committee along with Russ Carparelli, Stan Garnett, Kathryn Haight, Bruce Menk, Bill Meyer, Bill Ritter, Connie Talmage, Chuck Turner and Tony van Westrum. Guests included former Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender, Justice Richard Gabriel, Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix, Jim Coyle, Joan McWilliams, David Tenner, Nancy Cohen, Larry Tannenbaum, Patricia Clisham, and CU Law Dean Phil Weiser.

The committee invites contributions to the fund that was established by Brooke Wunnicke at her alma mater, CU Law, to provide an annual scholarship to a student who exhibits academic excellence and experience working in the private sector or in community service. Every contributor will be acknowledged in materials kept in “Brooke’s Nook,” a study corner established in Brooke’s honor at the Wise Library at CU Law. Online contributions are accepted at or contact CU Law Director of Development Ellen Goldberg at 303-735-3689.

Sending S’More Kids to Camp

Sarah and Mark Krick and their two young sons are a tight-knit, endearing family of four. At this year’s 2nd annual Campfires & Cocktails – a dressy affair at the Wellshire Inn to benefit Camp Wapiyapi– they took the stage wearing shorts and T-shirts. Within moments, Mark sheepishly shrugged off the claim they decided to come in camp-attire. The truth behind their dress was that earlier that day they had to make an unplanned trip to the hospital. Choking back tears, he brought home the reality of what it means to be a family with a child with cancer. It’s tough. Continuously. Hard. Bring on Camp Wapiyapi, the summer solution to a vacation from the hospital. It’s a pass to play. Hard. Camp Wapiyapi makes sure every single camper – kids with cancer and their siblings – comes first and has a great time. It’s a week of smiles and giggles with zip lines, high ropes courses, crazy colorful paint wars, as well as crafts and laughs.

“They know how to live in the moment and have a good time at Camp Wapiyapi. They remind us to enjoy where we are, right now,” said Sarah Krick. She also emphasized what a gift the camp is to the couple.

“When you have a child with cancer you spend a lot of time at the hospital. It’s such a big part of your life. It’s an amazing opportunity for us as a couple to be able to focus on each other while our boys are having fun at camp.”

Sarah also explained what it means to have siblings involved. “When my boys talk about a new friend from camp I’ll ask, ‘Is he a patient or a sibling?’ and my kids honestly don’t know. All the kids at camp are treated the same and that’s great for everybody.”

Camp Wapiyapi Executive Director Darla Dakin stresses that the experience is so important to siblings. “When a child is going through cancer, it impacts the whole family. The brother or sister deals with a lot of issues related to their sibling’s cancer. Our work is about supporting the whole family.”

Nicole Enderle and Tracy Nunn, both mothers of children with leukemia, have been engaged with Camp Wapiyapi for more than five years. “It’s incredible,” said Nicole.

Darla shared that more than 1,700 children in Colorado are living with cancer. Fortunately, Camp Wapiyapi is growing to help more of those children, as well as children in the region served by Children’s Hospital Colorado. In 2013, Camp Wapiyapi hosted two, 1-week sessions, serving 160 children. With nearly 60 kids on the waitlist, the organization expanded with a third session in 2014. This year, they served 223 children. The vision is to add more weeks to allow more children to foster friendships, fun and healing outside of the hospital.

This fundraiser is a powerful one for the organization. More than 80 enticing silent auction items beckoned for bids. In addition, emcee Channel 7’s Theresa Marchetta passionately shared about the aim for the evening.

“This is about money, about fundraising,” said Theresa Marchetta from the podium. “Is it startling that I said ‘money’? That’s what we are here for: to raise money so children can go to camp. Let’s remember that and give.”

Auctioneer Dani Espinosa, a graduate of University of Denver, followed suit and got the crowd rolling with a rousing game of “Auction Chicken.”

Prior to the program, the incredibly talented father-daughter duo Tex and Julie Almeria, who is a graduate of Denver School of the Arts and past member of Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir, contributed beautiful music to the night.

Karl Dakin and Bill Foss crafted the recipe for the signature drink, aptly called Bug Juice: Suavecito Blanco tequila, Midori® melon liqueur and ginger ale. It was the perfect pairing with the high-end, catchy camp-named food, which presented much more like fare from a 5-star than a campfire feast.

Wapiyapi is a Lakota Sioux word meaning health and healing. That healing goes well beyond a one week camp. It is helping families live moments that are as precious as swimming in a mountain lake or melting a marshmallow on a stick. Here’s to s’more healing for kids this summer and several summers to come!


Mental Health America of Colorado ILTM Reception


A brief and fast-moving thunderstorm in downtown Denver did not hinder some 150 guests from attending the June 11th Mental Health America Colorado‘s annual 2nd Annual “Improving Lives, Transforming Minds” (ILTM) event honoring organizations and individual mental health advocates.

Held at the Green Spaces venue in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, newly appointed President/CEO Andrew Romanoff mingled with supporters during a reception featuring live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres and bar. Romanoff was appointed MHAC director after the departure of Don Mares, named Denver’s first Director of the Denver Office of Behavioral Strategies by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The ILTM party celebrates MHAC’s education, prevention and outreach programs including Check Your Head, Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program, Brain Trust & Speaker Spotlight Series and Mental Health First Aid.

MHAC Events & Corporate Relations Coordinator Beth Danilson kept the party organized with help from Event Committee Members, Board and MHAC staff members. Staffers Laura Cordes, Mike Robbins, Amanda Chaney, Bianca Mikahn, Jamie Gulick and dedicated volunteers ensured success of the fun-filled event for a serious cause made possible by Presenting Sponsor Citywide Banks. Other support included: Gold Sponsors: Bernie & Mary Beth Buescher, Michael & Pegi Touff, GlaxoSmithKline, Mines & Associates; and Silver Sponsor: Peak View Behavioral Health.

MHAC staff and volunteers hosted several interactive wellness stations that gave a first-hand view of many mental health educational programs and techniques. Among the most popular booths were the Mental Healthies (photo selfie) station hosted by MHAC Office Manager Leslie Bailey and a creative coloring station hosted by MHAC Pro Bono Program Coordinator Tiffany Lloyd.

For the awards presentation Romanoff acknowledged his hard working staff, sponsors and guests. He also saluted the Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition helping raise awareness of mental health issues with a goal of climbing Colorado’s 54 Fourteeners in 10 weeks. The 7-member climbing team led by Anthony Reinert set out June 8th and expects to complete their mission by mid-August. (To track their progress visit: and Facebook/Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition)

The Sandra Rhodes Community Leader Award was presented to nationally recognized business psychology firm Mines and Associates for their managed behavioral health care and employee assistance programs that help address the mental health needs of Coloradans. The award is named after lifelong mental health advocate Rhodes, who has served as a mental health professional for The Gathering Place, Colorado Youth at Risk and received the Mental Health America National Award for volunteer service in 2010.

High school students Jasmine Valdez and Darius Wimberly won the MHAC Youth Leadership Award for tackling the mental health stigma head-on by speaking publicly about mental wellness and lessons they have learned from Check Your Head.

Now celebrating its 65th Anniversary, the national Mental Health America (MHA) organization and affiliates are promoting the B4Stage4 campaign which emphasizes prevention and treatment of mental health issues with the motto: Get Informed, Get Screened, Get Help. MHA studies indicate that 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year and that 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.

MHAC’s Annual Gala, Tribute 2015, will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. To volunteer, donate or attend an MHAC event please call 720-208-2220 or visit





Ride the Rockies Premiere Party


More than 250 attended the 4th Annual Ride the Rockies Route Premiere Party featuring live music, cocktails and a silent auction at the Denver Center for Performing Arts Seawell Grand Ballroom, Saturday, February 7. Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2015, this year’s event will once again take cyclists on a challenging and picturesque tour through unique small town Colorado.

Held annually in June Ride The Rockies is a non-competitive event open to cyclists of all ages that takes riders–ages 10 to 70–through some of Colorado’s most scenic and historic areas. Cyclists typically ride 70 miles daily through some of Colorado’s most panoramic towns and communities with more than 100 volunteers supporting participants through the challenging course.

The Premiere Party provides an opportunity for sponsors, participants, cyclists and their friends and families to preview the route and share stories of cycling exploits. The route changes annually so many guests stopped by the Route Guessing Station where Denver Post Business Reporter Steve Raabe took $5 donations per guess.

Ride the Rockies Tour Director Chandler Smith, Community Relations Director Renee Wheelock, Event Coordinator Liz Brown, and Denver Post representatives ensured that guests enjoyed the evening. Presenting sponsor Suncor and Product Sponsors Odell Brewing, Colterris Wine and Maggiano’s provided silent auction items, food and drink for the crowd.

After the cocktail reception and silent auction guests entered the ballroom to hear Wheelock call out raffle ticket numbers and silent auction winners. Tour Director Chandler Smith provided a historic event overview filled with anecdotes covering three decades. Suncor representative Lisha Burnett described her company’s commitment to Colorado communities in conjunction with The Denver Post Community Foundation.

Each year host towns and communities provide alternative lodging, inexpensive community meals and entertainment for riders. Representatives from each of the seven 2015 community hosts that help support and promote this event this year were: Barb Bowman of Grand Junction; Carrie Yantzer of Hotchkiss; Tammy Scott of Gunnison; Eliza Cress of Crested Butte; Brandy Coscarella of Salida; Lisa Hyams of Cañon City; and Rene Smith of Westcliffe.

The secret route for this June’s Ride the Rockies bike tour remained a secret until it was unveiled around 8:30 p.m. on two large ballroom screens. The event ended with Himani Williams taking home a high-end bicycle from Wheat Ridge Cyclery purchased by Suncor.

Registration for Ride the Rockies Applications will be accepted through March 1st at 5PM MST. All proceeds from Ride The Rockies go to The Denver Post Community Foundation (DPCF) which distributes funds to dozens of Colorado non-profits in the areas of arts, youth, education and human services. For more information visit





Holiday Spirit: Beautiful Music, Gaudy Sweaters and Ice Cold Beer

Nothing makes a holiday statement like a festive sweater adorned with real ornaments, smiling reindeers, and 3-D garland. Colorado Symphony Orchestra, at its holiday Beethoven and Brews, along with its event partner Buffalo Exchange helped guests get in the spirit in a big way. The store, specializing in vintage and used clothing, graciously brought 80 decked out sweaters to the party for guests who just couldn’t put their hands on one at home. Melissa Acosta walked in wearing a striking green and black silk blouse. She looked nice, normal . . . but that wasn’t the aim of this gathering.

“Oh, I feel sexy,” she cooed, stroking her newly acquired sweater with its giant faux pine branch and cones.

“It’s ravishing,” chuckled Day Lapira in reference to her over-the-top holiday number. She even gained a pal for the party as a smiling stuffed animal frog with arms outstretched ready for a hug was sewn onto the front of her garment.

Renegade Brewing Company proved the ideal beer partner for the occasion. The company aims for “an offensively delicious brew.” Renegade is for “those who do the don’ts and don’t the dos.” In short, it was the perfect pairing to the outlandish sweaters.

It was fitting that the event was held at the VFW Post #1, the oldest post in the country. The CSO offers a significantly discounted rate to active military personnel and veterans. The compelling array of artwork in the facility is from veterans throughout the country.

For birthday girl Tanya Hass the evening was the perfect present.

“It’s a brilliant combination,” exclaimed an elated Ms. Hass. “It’s great to hear symphony music while drinking beer.” The more than 150 others in attendance shared her sentiment.

Launched in 2013, Beethoven and Brews features small ensembles of Colorado Symphony musicians performing in casual, non-traditional venues, including art galleries and local breweries.

“This season the events will be in three different venues and will involve a variety of breweries. We want to bring community out, so we are getting out into the community,” said CSO Event Planner Christine Devereaux.

Patrons attending Beethoven and Brews supports the mission of the Colorado Symphony: Creating extraordinary musical experiences that transport today’s listener, from the best of the past to the edge of the future.

One of the leading orchestras in the United States, the Colorado Symphony performs more than 150 concerts annually at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver and across Colorado. Led by internationally renowned Music Director Andrew Litton, the Colorado Symphony is home to eighty full-time musicians, representing more than a dozen nations, and regularly welcomes the most celebrated artists from the world of symphonic music and beyond. Every season, the Colorado Symphony serves more than 250,000 people from all walks of life, performing a range of musical styles, from traditional to contemporary. Recognized as an incubator of innovation, creativity, and excellence, the Colorado Symphony continually expands its reach through education, outreach, and programming. The Colorado Symphony partners with the state’s leading musical artists, cultural organizations, corporations, foundations, sports teams, and individuals to expose diverse audiences to the transformative power of music. To learn more, visit





Aurora Mental Health Center's 8th Annual Student Art Show and Contest


Over 400  pieces of art  from 34 different schools were on display Wednesday, October 22nd at the 8th Annual “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest, presented by Aurora Mental Health. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade created artworks based on this year’s theme of “What Inspires or Excites You?”. Held at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora, students, parents, grandparents and teachers came out for the event which featured hors d’oeuvres and a reception, followed by the awards program. The event, hosted by AMHC Board of Director’s President Peter Cukale, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients. Each winner received a special recognition on stage to display their artwork and were presented with gift certificates provided by sponsor Citywide Banks.

Aurora Mental Health Center staff were also recognized during the annual celebration. Kathryn McGinness was honored as Intern of the Year, Casey Hilliard received the award for Administrative Staff of the Year, Blair Mollieri was named Adult Family Services Clinician of the Year, Margaret Charlton was honored as Family Services Clinician of the Year and Rudy Glasco was named Manager of the Year. Retiring board members , Linda Ashburn, Tim Huffman, Sandra Knight and Dona Zavislan were also honored. The board then elected seven new members, including Tom Ashburn, Molly Barrett, Terry Campbell Caron, Harrison Cochran, Teri Karjala, Dave Walcher and Kevin Waters.

With more than 400 employees, 50 interns and 40 volunteers, the Aurora Mental Health Center is a full service community mental health center committed to creating healthy and secure communities by providing the least restrictive service that ensures quality, appropriate, and efficient care. Learn more by visiting

First-Ever Wags and Wine: A Bow-Wow Affair for Children's Hospital


At this inaugural event, the special guests’ attire was top dog. The passed appetizers were a howling success. Tails were wagging as about a dozen therapy dogs involved in the Prescription Pet Program (PPP) at Children’s Hospital Colorado basked in well-deserved attention and praise. On Monday, Sept. 15, about 100 supporters got together at Kuni Lexus of Greenwood Village to celebrate the good works and goodwill of Children’s canine companions at Wags and Wine, a new-puppy-on-the-block event. It’s destined to become a “save the date” favorite.

Ollie prepares to do a trick for his treat, under owner Beth Ronsick's watchful eye.

Ollie prepares to do a trick for his treat, under owner Beth Ronsick’s watchful eye.

During the reception, Biscuits & Berries servers circulated with passed appetizers for two-legged guests, while four-legged friends enjoyed treats from Chewy’s Bonetique. Owner Julie Neva made the rounds, feeding each dog individually, and in true VIP style she made sure that each mouth was carefully wiped clean after the morsel was wolfed down. Well-behaved canines enjoyed lots of pats on the heads and rewarded guests with adorable looks and a few doggy tricks.

There was a serious side to the event as well, as PPP owners talked during the reception about inspiring experiences between Children’s patients and their dogs. During a short program, Association of Volunteers (AOV) board chair Robyn Roggensack, also a PPP participant, welcomed guests. AOV director Kathleen McBride spoke briefly and introduced consulting veterinarian Sara Mark, DVM. Mark described the goals of the program and told guests about her own poignant PPP experience. Door prizes were awarded to happy recipients, and tireless volunteer Lyn Schaffer was recognized her work on the event. “I think people had more fun because this wasn’t a fundraiser,” she said.


Emily Bauer with Yeti

Emily Bauer with Yeti

Created in 1984, the mission of the Prescription Pet Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado is to promote visitation by the canine members of the Prescription Pet Program Chapter and their masters in order to enhance the hospital experience for patients and their families. PPP partners with the Denver Area Veterinarian Society (DAVS), whose vets volunteer to assist with canine evaluations designed to meet the standards of animal-assisted therapy. Approximately 60 percent of dogs screened are admitted to the program. Dogs are continually monitored and screening procedures are updated to ensure protection of patients, families and staff.

Currently there are about active 25 dog-owner teams, and the group is constantly on the lookout for new members. Dogs must be between 2 and 9 years old, well trained and highly adaptable. From initial screening to completion of training can be a time period of four or five months. For more information, please visit

A Groovy Event: Mile High Academy Auction celebrates the 70s


Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Blue Oyster Cult, Simon and Garfunkel, Van Halen, and, of course, the Beatles, sounded from the speakers into the audience’s ears to confirm that, yes, Mile High Academy definitely took a step back in time to host its 15th annual auction. Using the groovy essence of the 1970s, the school served up a morning of nostalgia. Some guests wore their whitest, brightest Gogo boots, while others donned their tie-dye and bell-bottoms. It was a hip scene, grooving for a good cause: to support the school’s Worthy Family Fund, an account that helps cover the cost of tuition for families in need.

“I love this theme! It was fun to put together and having the students here as part of the event makes it that much better,” said a smiling Katrina Dean from behind huge purple sunglasses. “It reminds us why we’re here.”

The music set the mood and brought out a bit of air guitar and lip-synching to Rush and Jimi Hendrix. Al Ochoa put the playlist together.

“It was easy to do. I just pulled everything from my playlist. This is what I listened to in high school,” said Ochoa with a casually hip shoulder shrug and sly grin.

When it came time to dine, the music was the backdrop to the table decorations, creatively put together by Daisy Easley. Each table setting included an LP from artists of the era, as well as table names reflecting who was on stage in those days. And there were lots of daisies, the signature flower of the 70s.

Dustin Friend put his past culinary skills to work in the kitchen. He and a good-natured group of volunteers laughed their way through making mountains of pancakes, mouthwatering breakfast burritos and delectable egg salad sandwiches. Each table had an assortment of comfort-food sides such as peach compote and baked apples.

“I worked with food for 10 years. Now I tell people I cook the books,” said a jovial Friend, who is a financial planner.

Volunteers successfully filled the silent auction with more than 100 enticing items, while students created art pieces for the live auction.

The school is celebrating its 100-year anniversary as a decade each month. December was all about the 1950s. Two months later took them into today as the 1970s.

Can you dig it? This school is far out and happenin’. Try to catch them on the flip side because these cool cats are out of sight!

Mile High Academy is among one of the oldest and longest standing Christian private schools in metro Denver. To learn more about this school visit




Fun at the Law Office: Bachus & Schanker, LLC host Joy of Giving

Who knew going to a law office could be so much fun? Even bone-chilling cold couldn’t stop people from getting to Bachus & Schanker, LLC to celebrate the Joy of Giving. The surprise transformation of the space and the warmth of the occasion made it a winning case.

Business by day spaces were transformed into places for party provisions. The side credenza was stacked with delicious desserts and the reception desk doubled beautifully as the place to order something to sip on. The incredibly talented, classically trained, award-winning musician Lionel Young added a delightful background of blues and soulful holidays tunes to the gathering.

Darin L. Schanker, founding partner of Bachus & Schanker, LLC, gave a hearty welcome to the guests and shared his high regard for the work of Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic, the beneficiary of the evening.

“Our firm’s mantra is ‘Our passion is justice’ and JAMLAC does amazing things in helping people who are in difficult situations. Our values align well and that is why they are so important to us,” said Darin Schanker.

JAMLAC’s Executive Director Steve Thompson graciously acknowledged how much the evening meant to him. He then introduced a sweet-smiling Ruth Rojas. She tenderly hugged her son in front of her as she shared her thanks to the organization for helping her escape domestic abuse. A round of applause went high when she finished by saying she was now in a place to get her own home for her and her six-year-old son.  JAMLAC’s mission is to address the practical legal needs of people struggling with poverty and oppression in metro Denver. The agency has become a safe and confidential resource for victims of daily hardship and cruelty since its start in 2006.

New to the event this year was a real-time ask for donations directly to JAMLAC. Without hesitation, Darin Schanker threw out the first contribution, an amount higher than the first auction ask. The contributions kept coming in increments between $100 and $1,000. The end result was an additional $7,000 for JAMLAC.

“Everyone’s generosity is so heartwarming,” said Dawn Rozecki, Director of Litigation for the firm and a member of the Bachus & Schanker Cares Foundation board.  “The additional dollars from the live auction will potentially double the amount raised from last year’s event.”

In an office across the hall, Gusto Studio Booth provided a blast of props for comical photos. Unlike waiting for Christmas day, it was immediate gratification as attendees could click on the link seconds after the shutter closed and send fun pictures to friends. The most popular items to adorn that evening were Hulk gloves, antlers, Santa hats and picture frames. A stuffed monkey often found his way into the final shot.

Prior to posing, guests checked out the many silent auction offerings. Sports enthusiasts had a hard time deciding between bidding on a jersey signed by Champ Bailey, an autographed photo of Ty Lawson and Nuggets tickets, box seats for the Rockies, or prime seats for Avalanche and/or DU hockey. Sheet after sheet on the table called to the keeper of the pen to put down a price for delicious spa treatments, dinners out, days away at popular resorts and an assortment of original artwork.

Bachus & Schanker, LLC began with a core practice in personal injury law. The firm now addresses workers’ compensation, social security and all forms of plaintiff’s employment law. Comprised of 15 trial lawyers and nearly 50 total firm members, Bachus & Schanker, LLC has represented thousands of clients across the country. In 2009, the firm established the Bachus & Schanker Cares Foundation. The Foundation is committed to supporting the community and those affected by life changing tragedies and has contributed to several non-profits including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Dolls for Daughters, Habitat for Humanity, Light the Night Walk, A Walk To Remember, and the Wall-Bop Golf Tournament.

On Monday, the lobby will return to business-as-usual. Perhaps the fax will machine will sit where there was a decadent array of desserts. The reception desk will resume its role as the first stop for clients. The air of care will continue as the firm carries on its business.

A Celebration of "Greening" Greenleaf Apartments

We’ve put together a community, not just an apartment complex.

Jeffery Jones, Board member, Archway Housing & Services Inc

A pristine Colorado fall day, with a vast blue sky, a slight breeze and burnt orange trees, was the backdrop for Archway Housing & Services Inc ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the newly renovated Greenleaf Apartments. More than one year ago the agency pulled the apartment building out of foreclosure to create quality affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families.

As a first step, it connected with ICAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology) who then pulled in an array of partners. With collaboration and perseverance the group blossomed an updated, “green” complex that goes far beyond bricks and mortar.

When Archway board member Robinson Lapp had his turn at the podium he was quick to acknowledge Greenleaf’s Property Manager Quinteria Moss. “I have been here several times and I see what she does. She’s a really cool person. She’s incredibly caring toward the residents.”

Resident Graciano Pickering echoed the sentiment when he said, “Quinn’s office is always open and she listens.” Resident Dillion Parker put it succinctly when he said, “I love it here,” with a smile as bright as the day. Along with caring for people, the facility updates are about caring for resources. Regional Director of Region 8 for HUD Rick Garcia explained that because of the updates to the building and apartments each Greenleaf resident experiences a 20 percent savings in energy consumption. He also tipped his hat to ICAST as the only group in the west selected by HUD to receive specific funds for this type of project. “That is testament to their outstanding work,” relayed Garcia.

A shy, soft-spoken Graciano Pickering stepped up to the podium to thank the many people who worked together to make the renovations a reality. “We have a lot of families here and we appreciate this” in reference to the sturdy new play structure that is the centerpiece of the courtyard for the building.

Jeff Seifreid from Mile High Community Loan Fund acknowledged the agency’s accomplishments as he stated, “The track record of Archway is getting even more impressive.” Archway’s Executive Director Joyce Alms-Ransford graciously acknowledged how much of a “team effort” this project was and what an enormous difference it made in the lives of residents, now and in the future. “We were so, so pleased so many opportunities came together to make this a better place to live. Bringing new life to this community through all of the funding and support provided to the Greenleaf Apartments is what Archway Housing & Services wanted to accomplish.  Every family deserves to have a decent place to live and Archway Housing & Services is proud to have made this happen.”

Archway was strategic in making its first step to bring in ICAST. The non-profit develops and implements market-based solutions for the issues that plague underserved communities. ICAST projects promote a triple bottom line approach to community development through the creation of social enterprise, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.

Funders reported for the project include HUD, Colorado Division of Housing, Aurora Housing Authority/Metro East Partners, City of Aurora, Mile High Community Loan Fund, Citywide Banks and Colorado Health Foundation. The people behind the entities are Pat Coyle, Alison George, Alison O’Kelly, Meghen Duggins, Craig Maraschky, Elizabeth Gundlach-Neufeld, Aaron Gagne, Signy Mikita, Jeff Seifried, Sarah Archibald, Lisa Bloomquist, Kirk Higgins, Anne Lovett, Deb Neeley and Christopher Smith.

The Development Team and Supporters included Teresa Vaughn, Yvonne Monson, Susan Vaho, Justine Hernandez, Joyce Modrak, Quinteria Moss, Cinday Dean, Christina Wynne, Danny Rodriguez, Jeff Tamburello, Julien Swain, Sarah Batt, Mark Berry and Greg Price.  The project could not have been put together without the expertise of ICAST, Mountain View Construction, VTBS Architects and JHL Constructors.

Upgrades include the installation of new efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC systems, low flow faucets and low E glass windows. More improvements are planned to further update both the interior and exterior of the apartments.

After all the speeches one little resident chased a blue balloon blowing in the light breeze. Onlookers couldn’t help but smile. It may be a community under construction, so to speak, because there are still a few more tweaks to go to the property. But, to one little boy and his blue balloon, it’s a safe, loving home and it’s perfect. For many others, it’s a four-story sign of enormous care, collaboration and a model for future ventures.

Colorado Symphony’s 2013-2014 Masterworks Series Opening Party


Supporters of the Colorado Symphony enjoyed a champagne and dessert reception at the EDGE Restaurant and Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver following the opening night of the 2013-14 Masterworks Series. Renowned three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis, along with the Colorado Symphony Music Director Andrew Litton, opened the season with a performance at Boettcher Concert Hall. Immediately following the show, symphony donors headed to the Four Seasons for an opening night reception. Guests enjoyed desserts and cocktails and mingled with Marsalis, Litton and many of the symphony’s musicians.

Grammy winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis

Grammy winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis

The Colorado Symphony performs more than 150 concerts during its regular season at
Boettcher Concert Hall and on location throughout the state and region. 2013/14 season
highlights include appearances by virtuoso violinists Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell, and
classical pianists Natasha Paremski and Stephen Hough. This season’s Pops and Classic Rock series feature rock greats, iconic film scores and Broadway blockbusters. The Holiday, Family and Inside the Score series offer musical favorites, captivating collaborations and interactive concerts for music lovers of all ages.