The employees who work at the Motherloaded Tavern in Breckenridge are close - close enough to be friends, close enough to get married and close enough to rally around each other when it's really needed.
This year, the tavern's annual end-of-the-season bash has a new purpose behind it - to raise money for longtime employee Brandon Doza, who recently suffered a medical emergency and is struggling to pay off hospital bills.
At the age of 19, Doza was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a serious type of inflammatory bowel disease that can strike anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth on down. While Doza has learned to live with his disease, just several weeks ago his situation suddenly worsened.
"I was at work and went home because I wasn't feeling well," he said.
It wasn't long before he realized something was seriously wrong.
"I actually drove myself to the emergency room," he said. "I made a split-second decision, all right, I'm gonna go."
With his concerned dog riding beside him, Doza got himself to the hospital just in time. He was transported to Denver, where he then underwent a surgery that removed two feet of his small intestine.
Because Crohn's disease is considered a pre-existing condition, it is not covered by most insurance, leaving Doza with a hefty bill to cover the procedure.
Chmurny Cain, owner of the Mother Loaded Tavern and Doza's boss, said that it just felt natural for herself and the other employees to turn the end-of-season bash into a benefit for Doza.
"This is a good way to do an awareness of the disease and give him some money," she said. "Motherloaded closes on Sunday and we're closed until the weekend before Memorial Day, so this is a great way for us, instead of throwing away our food, to have people eat and enjoy it."
Cain said that the benefit's focus is to raise both money for Doza and awareness of the disease.
"This is something that nobody really knows a whole lot about, this is something very new for all of us," she said.
Doza, originally from Grand Rapids, Mich., started work at the Motherloaded Tavern in January of 2007, first as a server and then moving up to bar tender and manager. It was there that he met Michelle, the woman who would eventually become his wife. The two married in August 2011.
"I moved out, the classic story of, 'hey I'm going to move to the mountains after college, ended up staying and finding a girl and the rest is history," he said with a laugh. "Now I'm stuck," he jokes, "(but) I wouldn't change it."
In addition to meeting the girl of his dreams, Doza has made many good friends both at the Motherloaded Tavern and at his other job at Avalanche Sports. Cain also mentioned the way that the local community has rallied around Doza and his cause, donating items to the raffle and food and drink to the party.
"We just love the way that the town gathers around people who are down on their luck," she said. "That's what keeps us here in Summit County, everyone is such a close-knit family."
Doza, also, said he is both surprised and touched by the support he's received.
"There's a lot of us that have worked there for a long time, so it's definitely a tight-knit family. I call it my Colorado family," he said. "It's amazing, like I get choked up just thinking about it. I mean, our friends and family have just been amazing. My mom and dad flew out, I had friends that came out, tons of people that came down and visited in the hospital in Denver. Everything they're doing is amazing."
The benefit will be held Sunday starting at 5 p.m. There will be an all-you-can-eat buffet, raffle, live music and dancing, all for a $25 cover at the door. Those who can't attend the event but are still interested in donating money can contact Chmurny Cain at (970) 453-2572.