Colorado Celebrity Classic to Benefit TAPS – a model for getting ‘er done!
By Christine Quinn Burtt
Sgt. Nick Pansini served five tours as a U.S. Marine, two in Iraq. His sisters Angel and Shannon and dad Joe Pansini told the story of his suicide in 2010 at the Saluting our Fallen Heroes Dinner Concert, and the reason for TAPS became crystal clear: We care!
Now it its 11th year, the Colorado Celebrity Classic to benefit TAPS has become a model for hosting a series of successful fundraising events - and having fun!
The Colorado Celebrity Classic attracts some of Colorado's most generous sponsors, such as Jake Jabs and American Furniture Warehouse, the El Pomar Foundation, Steve & Marla Grove, Pete & Marilyn Coors, the Anschutz Foundation, Wiz Bang Solutions, Gill Photography, the Villager Publishing Company, Greiner Electric and Charles Schwab.
This year we expanded to five special events with more than 900 people enjoying the several programs. More than $230,000 was donated to TAPS.
The Songwriters Show kicked off the Colorado Celebrity Classic, this year at hosted at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Once again, the intimate evening of stories and songs by some of Nashville's most accomplished songwriters kept the audience asking for more. Brett Jones, Billy Montana, Frank Myers, and Rob Crosby graciously volunteered their time to return to the TAPS stage and were warmly received. Newcomer Keni Thomas, a former Army Ranger and veteran of the famed Blackhawk Down battle in Somalia, reminded the audience why our support of TAPS is so valuable.
The signature event of the Colorado Celebrity Classic is the ever-popular Saluting Our Fallen Heroes Dinner Concert with a live and silent auction. A memorable meal of pit-roasted prime rib with all the fixin's was prepared and served by the Coors Cowboy Club "Chuckwagon Crew." The guests enjoyed music during dinner by Tony David & Wildefire and songstress Suzy Bogguss headlined the evening's entertainment.
Kerry Edwards, Pam Hughes, and Mandy Martin were recognized as the 2016 Tony David Volunteers of the Year. Jay & Susan Dikeman were honored with a Soldier's Cross Award for their exceptional efforts of supporting TAPS Colorado Celebrity Classic.
There were some really cool Live Auction gifts such as golf foursomes at Eisenhower Golf Club and Cordillera at Beaver Creek, Broncos tickets, a Von Miller autographed Super Bowl 50 helmet, and a NYC trip with tickets to the musical Hamilton and a day on the set of The Blacklist. Burt & Andria Lewis bought a trip to Nashville with backstage passes and a sit-in on recording sessions. Another gift garnered a lot of enthusiasm - and two sets of lucky winners. Lynn & Tony Krekener and another group of four couples were the successful bidders of private concerts in their homes with Nashville songwriters Frank Myers, Billy Montana, Danny Wells, and Jimmy Nichols.
Our Celebrity Golf Tournament was again played at the Eisenhower Golf Club at the USAF Academy. Golfers were invited to a complimentary Putting and Chipping Clinic by PGA pros, then started play with a shotgun start. Each five-player scramble included a celebrity. The winning golf team was sponsored by the Marriott Denver Tech Center and included Mike DiGrappa, Mark DiGrappa, Eric Liebod, Mark Perrault, and celebrity Brian Mullan, MLS Cup champion and professional soccer player and coach. Navy won the Military Team competition.
The take-away from the Mike Rosen Roast on March 19 was laughter - lots of laughing! Friends of TAPS and from Mike's world of radio and politics gathered to tell stories and brag on Mike. Hosted at the Marriott Denver Tech Center, it was a stellar send-off for Mike as he transitions from 35 years on the radio to pursue his interests in economics, culture, politics - and golf. Comedian Ralph Achilles and Bo Cottrell mastered emcee duties, wrangling the rambunctious roasters: John Andrews, Peter Boyles, Hank Brown, Jon Caldera, Nathan Chambers, Jill Rosen, Lynn Rosen, Craig Silverman, Barb Simmons, Walker Stapleton, Christian Toto and Dick Wadhams.
Another special event this year was the Memorial Day Concert & Dance. It was a fun party with music and dancing at The Stampede featuring local artists playing a danceable mix of country, western, rock, blues, and pop. It was a treat to hear John Adams, Megan Burtt, Tony David and Wildefire, Rudy Grant, the Jim Hyatt Band, Carin Mari, Lindsay Solonycze, Jake Jabs, and Richie Law & the Southern Routes Band.
The Colorado Celebrity Classic wouldn't happen with the deep commitment of Directors Lynne & Bo Cottrell, and Event Chairs Linda Cavanagh and Kevin Kreymborg, and the entire TAPS Celebrity Classic Board of Directors: Paul & Joan Beninati, Christine Quinn Burtt, Pete & Marilyn Coors, Tony & Danielle David, Jay & Susan Dikeman, Vic & Sharon Evans, Lt. Gen (Ret) Mike Paula Gould, Jake Jabs, David & Annette Jewell, Mort & Edie Marks, General (Ret) Gene & Jill Renuart, Pat Robinson, Eric Schierburg, Tom & Jill Tarver, Randall Taylor, Rick Wright, and Michele Austin, Treasurer.
Finally, last, but most important, are our 60+ volunteers. Committees were led by a dedicated group: Micah Marmaro, Mandy Martin, Michele Austin, Jane Ames, Jill Tarver, Carol Waller, Tom Tarver, Rick Wright, Jill Cullis, Sally Stanley, Al Duran, Connie D'Giallonardo, Tom & Janet Rountree, Nolan Hargrave, Dave and Anne Gill, Jennifer and David Lee, Karen D'Amboise, Danny Holz, and Rob O'Regan.
Gold Star Volunteers
Kelsey Alexander ~ Holly Aragon ~ Chris Cooper ~ Shannon Cooper ~ Mary Ann Crawford ~ Denise Drager ~ Jane Eaton ~ Corey Feldman ~ Reggie Garner ~ Jane Hall ~ Erynne Hargrave ~ Jewell Hargrave ~ Sandy Heth ~ Anthony Holquin ~ Efrain Holquin ~ Elyse Holz ~ Mary Hudson ~ David Hudson ~ Le-Len Lang ~ Anthony Lee ~ Olivia Lee ~ Craig McNeil ~ Kailey Morones ~ Madison Morones ~ John Morton ~ Sydney Musich ~ Steve Newell ~ Becky Novotne ~ Meghann Pullman ~ Kellie O'Regan ~ Mark O'Regan ~ Kathy Peterson ~ Emile Raugust ~ Hollie Sainz ~ Rebecca Schaefer ~ Julie Schrock ~ Nan Smith ~ Merry Snyder ~ Al Stanley ~ Lora Thomas ~ BSA Troop 1876 ~ Cody Elder ~ Alex Zabalaga ~ Chris Zabalaga