Who doesn’t love dinner and a concert? Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) event co-founders and organizers Bo and Lynne Cottrell figured out that an evening of food and music doesn’t have to be on steroids to create a special event. The Colorado Celebrity Classic continues to delight as a relaxed memory-maker because each component is distinctive. Prime-rib dinner? Pit-smoked beef prepared by a crew from Amarillo, Texas. They travel to the event in a caravan to cook and serve it. Music? Nashville’s best, with singer-songwriters not only performing, but also telling personal anecdotes between every song. Add the fact that money goes to help surviving families of fallen military heroes, and it’s a save-the-date occasion every year.
On Saturday, June 16, TAPS supporters met up at Steve Grove’s downhome, upscale ranch for the 14th annual fundraiser to enjoy a delectable Coors Cowboy Club “Chuckwagon Crew” prime-rib dinner, silent auction with event souvenirs available for purchase, and music by Tony David and WildeFire. That could have been an evening in itself, but it was all a pleasant prelude to a moving program and singer-songwriter concert emceed by radio host Steffan Tubbs. This year’s co-chairs were Linda Cavanagh and Kevin Kreymborg. Three deserving women were recipients of the Volunteer of the Year award: Jane Ames, Karen D’Amboise and Carol Waller. The Cottrells addressed the crowd and were later presented with roses by young TAPS family member Gabriela Benton.
The reason for the event wasn’t forgotten. TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll talked about the organization, as survivor families lined the front of the stage holding photos of fallen loved ones. A boisterous live auction of fun packages was led by Roger Sierens, followed by a paddle-raiser that hushed the crowd when Tubbs announced that a $100 donation would buy a suit for a young man to wear to his father’s funeral. A deluge of on-the-spot donations followed.
Taking the stage for a concert full of music and conversation from well-known singer-songwriters: award-winning Pam Tillis, Frank Myers, Jimmy Nichols and Billy Montana. As the crowd noticed a fifth performer on stage, Tillis introduced him as her husband Matt Spicher. The setting was casual, but the talent was abundant for a unique concert experience.
TAPS was founded in the wake of a military tragedy, after eight soldiers were killed in a C-12 plane crash in Alaska in November 1992. Among the grieving family members was Bonnie Carroll, the military widow of Army Brigadier General Tom Carroll. The families found comfort in offering support to each other and sharing experiences. Carroll founded TAPS in 1994, after conducting two years of research examining the resources available to support bereaved military families and benchmarking best practices at other peer-based support organizations. TAPS was designed to not replicate services offered by other organizations, the military, or the government. The heart of the organization is survivors helping survivors heal. A growing body of evidence supports this type of “companioning” as an effective strategy to assist the bereaved. Since its inaugural event in 2005, the Colorado Celebrity Classic has raised more than $4 million for TAPS. This year, the Colorado Classic will support the Regional Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp being held in Colorado Springs in September 2018. For more information, please visit: TAPS.org and TAPS.org/Colorado.