On Sunday, for the second year in a row, Round Up on the Animas, a fundraiser for The Liberty School, took place on one of the hottest days of the year. But since the Animas River was flowing by about 10 feet away, that didn’t seem to matter.
The event was organized by Cheryl Folwell and Dena Malouff.
More than 70 people gathered to support scholarships for students at Liberty, which is a private school providing a specialized education for students with dyslexia or those who are what is called twice-exceptional, gifted and dyslexic, a category describing about 50 percent of dyslexic students.
That statistic came from Bob Harrington, the president of Liberty’s board, and he should know as he falls into that category himself. A former Navy pilot, he earned a doctorate in accounting and taught at the college level. His biggest dyslexic problem in that regard? The numbers 86 and 68 always threw him, and he had to work extra hard to deal with the challenges.
Laura Kaminsky, a tutor at the school, told me she wants people to stop calling dyslexia a learning disability. It’s just different wiring in the brain, and that wiring also brings tremendous strengths with it.
Do people say Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon, George Patton, George Washington, Stephen Spielberg, Walt Disney. Gustave Flaubert and Agatha Christie had disabilities? No, they say they were, or are, brilliant, talented, tremendous leaders.
Yale University actually has a Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. And Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, released a study in 2007 that found that while about 10 percent of the American population is dyslexic, more than a third of our entrepreneurs deal with this different wiring in the brain.
Anyway, back to the party. The whole evening had a country feel to it. Chad MacCluskey, best known to locals for playing in jazz ensembles, accompanied Terry Wells on some Western tunes. It was a first for him and a fun challenge. (It was important to both of them to support the cause. He’s a reading specialist in his day job with Durango School District 9-R, and she’s the librarian at Montezuma-Cortez High School.)
Since Head of School Bill O’Flanagan moved back East at the end of the school year, the school took the opportunity to change the school’s organizational structure. M.J. Bilgrave will be in charge of tutoring, Suzette Collard will be the administrative director and Christian Holmen, who has been a member of the faculty for seven years, will be the head honcho.
I liked the appetizers, trays of cheeses and crackers and fresh fruits, simple and delicious. Dinner, created by Jimmy Nicholson of Durangourmet, was centered on beef cooked at a slow heat for 10 hours, so tender you could cut it with a fork, and topped with root beer barbecue sauce, accompanied by all the fixin’s.
Eddie Mac Taylor served as auctioneer for an amazing evening for 10, including a gourmet dinner prepared by Nicholson (quail breast with honey-coffee dressing, herb-stuffed trout roulade with tarragon-lemon butter and duck breast with citrus-cranberry glaze were just a few of the possibilities for the menu), with live jazz by MacCluskey, Bob Newnam and Lee Bartley and wines by Guy Drew.
Continuing with the Western theme, “Dirty” Don Hinkley recited several cowboy poems, including “The Strawberry Roan.” That particular poem was interrupted by two “desperados” on horseback, Denny Schilthuis and his lovely partner-in-crime, Molly Caldwell. They passed the hat, holding dessert, a sour cream-apple crumble, hostage until we added to the contributions for the evening. All told, the evening brought in at least $18,000.
All kinds of people contributed to this evening. The flowers were courtesy of Blue Lake Ranch and City Market, the tables were a loan from the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Molly and Greg Martin continued their generous giving and so on.
Why did all these people spend months organizing the event? Dena Malouff’s husband, Lonnie, Folwell and her husband, Paul, are all dyslexic. The Malouffs also host the event in memory of their son, Dustin, who died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 29. They didn’t realize it when he was a child, but looking back they see the signs that he was struggling with the challenges of a dyslexic brain.
Students at The Liberty School receive intensive individualized tutoring and instruction, which produces dramatic results. The school has garnered enough attention with those results that families have moved to Durango to enroll their children, which says lot.
But that kind of teaching doesn’t come cheap, and the school’s board works hard to raise money so no child is excluded because his or her parents can’t afford the tuition.
There are several ways to donate to help the board with that mission. If you’re an Amazon shopper, select the school at smile.amazon.com and a portion of everything you spend will go to the school. Register your City Market Rewards card at www.citymarketcommunityrewards.com and every time you buy a week’s worth of groceries or a gallon of milk, it will add to a donation to the school. Or sign up for an Alpine Bank Education Debit Card.
Or of course, you can just make a donation directly. Visit www.thelibertyschool.org to learn more about the school and donate.
Doing the dance of joy because Mother Nature gave them precipitation for their birthdays are Moni Grushkin, Joyce Wood, Wendy Rice, Jeff Karraker, Mindy Porter Breed, Dinah Swan, Allison Aichele-Morrissey, Jessica Miller, Deck Shaline, Buster Weahkee Jr. and Greg Maxey.
It always amazes me when another story emerges about just how connected to the world little, isolated Durango is. Here’s a case in point.
On a trip to the South Pacific about nine years ago, Katherine Reynolds took advantage of a Home-Hosted meals program through her cruise line, which allowed her to get a more intimate look at Cairns, Australia, than most tourists ever manage. Her hosts were G.J. “Jean” and Geoff Bonham, and the two women became instant friends.
They continued a correspondence over the next few years, both snail mail and electronically. But they didn’t have a chance to meet again until last year, when their paths intersected halfway across the world in Salzburg, Austria. Reynolds was there on a concert tour with the Durango Choral Society (see the Neighbors of Oct. 4, 2013 if you missed the account of that journey), and Jean Bonham took a little side trip en route to London for business.
And now Reynolds is hosting her friend in Durango. They will have the fun expected on a visit to Durango, such as a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a night at the Melodrama, a trek to Creede for some summer theater and strolls on the Animas River Trail.
But they’ll also do something special. Bonham is an author, and her book, Long Road to Happiness, was released in March in London. Reynolds is hosting a booksigning for her from 1 to 3 p.m. July 13 in the Parish Hall of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 910 East Third Ave.
The book is a “historical fiction about an English girl whose past during World War II comes back to haunt her,” Reynolds said.
I think Reynolds is kind of hoping Bonham’s visit will inspire her to write a novel about Southwest Colorado.
Dan and Robin Goldman are looking forward to hot days and cold watermelon for their anniversary.
Neighbors will return July 16, as I’m taking a week to rest up before the fun of Music in the Mountains begins.
Here’s how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 375-4584; or mail items to the Herald.