In a year that included a 54,129-acre fire and subsequent floods and mudslides, firefighters, first responders and law enforcement officers said they were particularly touched by community support Thursday night at The Hundred Club of Durango’s 2018 Annual Banquet Honoring Public Service.
“This room represents a community that came together to support us, and we saw it like no other this year with the fire,” said La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.
A special award was given this year to Don Mapel and Dean Brown, early organizers of The Hundred Club, for their efforts to build the organization through the years.
The club started in 1974 in the wake of a fire in the 800 block of downtown Durango that destroyed six historic buildings and killed two first responders – Gale E. Emerson, a Durango Police Department corporal, and Nick Parks III, a firefighter – who were trying to save others.
One Hundred Club President Jerry Martinez said Mapel and Brown raised membership during their stewardship from 100 to 300 members and raised the club’s funds, which assist families of fallen firefighters, first responders and law officers and to provide scholarships to their children, from $100,000 to more than $500,000.
“They led the way, and our job is to continue that tradition,” Martinez said. “Their legacy is going to continue for years to come.”
La Plata County Commissioner Jule Westendorff said the club’s scholarship support for the children of firefighters, first responders and law officers is particularly helpful in small, rural communities like La Plata County.
“It’s hard to compete wage-wise with what agencies on the Front Range can offer,” she said in recognizing the importance of the club’s college scholarships.
One Hundred Club scholarships this year went to Ariel Fender, Alyana Frasier and John Hitti, all of whom attend Fort Lewis College.
firstname.lastname@example.org This story has been upated to correct the spelling of Don Mapel’s last name.