When the Hundred Club of Durango held its annual banquet Nov. 19, it was, by the best of fortune, an evening of celebration.
That’s not always the case, as the club was founded in the wake of the 1974 fire that killed a fireman and policeman. The club’s name comes from the dues – members are asked to donate $100 annually. Funds are carefully invested, so whenever a first responder – law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services – is injured in the line of duty or dies, Hundred Club members can show up on the family’s doorstep with immediate financial support.
Hundred Club President Dean Brown emceed the evening’s activities, which included having all the agency heads in attendance introduce the first responders from their departments. They included Chief Jim Spratlen from the Durango Police Department; new Chief Hal Doughty from the Durango Fire Protection District; La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith; and Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll.
Because we have been extremely lucky in recent years with no deaths and few injuries in the line of duty – due in large part to the commitment to training by these agency heads – the fund has grown to the point where the organization can also fund scholarships for first responders’ children. In the past, the scholarships were only for students attending Fort Lewis College, but this year, the club added Southwest Colorado Community and San Juan colleges to the list, so students can also pursue associate degrees and vocational certification.
The club’s Scholarship Committee is led by Debra Parmenter and includes Sheri Rochford Figgs, Julie Westendorff and Sheryl Kaufman. Figgs introduced this year’s recipients, Shandin Dodge, Amber Harwig, Caitlin Martin, Morgan Walts and Austin Shupe at the banquet. The sixth recipient, Desiree Little, had to work that night.
One thing I like about these scholarships is that the students can reapply for scholarships every year as long as they maintain a 2.5 grade-point average. So many scholarships are available for freshmen, but with today’s student-debt loads, they need help all the way through to their degrees.
Rod and Robin Turner were honored as the most consistent attendees at the banquet, and past presidents Don Mapel and Jasper Welch were also recognized.
Jerry Martinez of CJ’s Diner fame is a key player in getting financial support from other businesses both for the banquet and other Hundred Club projects. In addition to Mapel, owner of Durango Coca-Cola, he also collected from Dr. Mark Gaughan of Durango Dermatology, Matt Leeder of Leeder Construction, Jeff Murray from Durango Harley-Davidson, Serious Texas BBQ and Point to Point.
This is always an evening of great camaraderie. I hope the many representatives of our first responders go home that night knowing that the community they serve so faithfully recognizes their service and appreciates what they do for us.
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Hundred Club, visit www.durango100club.com or mail your check to P.O. Box 3146, Durango, CO 81302.
Enjoying the early Sagittarius birthdays are Jackson VanDenBerg, Sandy Zink, Patricia Mikelson, Melodie San Miguel, Arthur Kunkel, Antony Kuo, Emily Lavengood, Danny Pierce, Bev Dittmer, Carol Thurman, Linda Mack Berven, Alice Robinson, Katie Cunnion, Tonya Wales, Paul Duggan, Patrice Lindeman, Genna Kidd, Carter House, Dell Manners, Kyle Branson, Eve Gilmore, Don Cornutt, Norman Broad, Rita Lee and Richard Gallavan.
Perhaps the wealthiest dyslexic living today, who holds three Guinness World Records for speed in sailboats, hot air balloons and amphibious vehicles?
What famous basketball player, who now owns the team for which he played, is dyslexic and is one of a handful of players to win an NCAA title, an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal?
Those were just two of the questions about dyslexia Ted Holteen, best known for Super Ted’s Super Trivia at Ska Brewing Co., asked at The Liberty School’s 2015 Dyslexic Hall of Fame inductions Nov. 14, which was held at the DoubleTree Hotel. (The answers are at the end of this item.)
This year’s inductees were Nick Becker, owner of Anytime Fitness, and Stan Schler, a woodcraftsman of note and one of the people who led the charge to get ice skating at Chapman Hill.
Becker had always struggled with reading, and it was a professor at Fort Lewis College who encouraged him to be tested for dyslexia. Learning to cope with the wonky wiring and play on his strengths helped him complete his degree and go on to own his own business.
Schler’s mother realized he was dyslexic when he was a child. She encouraged him to never give up, and working with his hands and wood was a bit of a salvation. His love of hockey benefitted us all.
The event also featured a keynote talk by Brad Tyra, a velodrome cycling contender for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. He trains while completing his master’s degree at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He also has dyslexia and is sponsored by the International Dyslexia Association.
Tyra spoke directly to the students in attendance: “Find what you love that drives you and focus on it. Then you will see your strengths manifest. Dyslexia can be a gift that helps you think differently in ways that others don’t; this is where you will see your strengths shine.”
The event serves another purpose, raising money for scholarships. Liberty School is a small private school that works with students who are dyslexic, gifted or twice exceptional – gifted and dyslexic. The evening netted $22,000 to help families get the specialized help for their children.
Having met some of the students and visited the school more than once, I’ve found myself actually wishing I were dyslexic. The creative, dynamic ways they see the world – in 3-D for starters, while I’m spatially challenged – is truly inspirational. It’s a shame so many students through the ages have been regarded as stupid rather than just different, and while we’re better at recognizing it now, I think many kids are still treated that way. I often wonder what the world has lost because they have not met their potential.
And by the way, for those who tackled the trivia questions, Richard Branson is the mogul with the need for speed, and Magic Johnson is the basketball player.
The whole town is lit up (for the holidays) as Mark and Sharon Donahue as they celebrate their anniversary.
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