Five years ago, when Åsa Armstrong came on as the development officer of the Bristlecone Foundation, she brought with her an idea that would both raise money for Bristlecone Health Services in Summit County and provide a lasting legacy for people and their loved ones.
LEGACY FOREST CAMPAIGN
Every May, the Bristlecone Foundation sells aspen, bristlecone pine, Ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce and Engelmann spruce seedlings for $20. These future trees can stand as memorials to loved ones, celebrations of life events or as gifts to friends and family near or far as part of the Legacy Forest campaign.
Purchasers may also plant the seedlings themselves, and many do, Armstrong said.
“A lot of them plant seedlings in memory or in honor of loved ones,” she said, “so it’s that bonding, and families are connecting, and talking to their kids about great memories that they have of their loved ones. It’s really a beautiful event in every aspect.”
The Bristlecone Foundation relies on volunteers to plant the remaining seedlings. Volunteers aren’t required to purchase a seedling to participate. All ages are welcome, including families with young children.
Planting day is Saturday, May 31, and will start off at 8:30 a.m. with a volunteer breakfast, including coffee and burritos donated by the Log Cabin Café. Participants should be prepared for the outdoors, Armstrong said, with hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, sturdy footwear, work gloves and water bottles. Any other tools necessary will be provided at the planting sites.
Last year was the first time for planter and volunteer Cheryl Harris. She bought a seedling to honor her grandmother, Florence, “the most positive person I ever met.”
Harris planted the seedling at the Dillon site.
“It’s bigger than just the planting because everybody is bonding, without any agendas, just in nature,” she said. “Some (volunteers) had planted a tree in previous years honoring a loved one and they had come back to check on it. It’s pretty sacred right there. Other people were just planting the first time, like me, and excited to go back and see it this year.
“It just makes you feel like you’re a part of all this beauty that we’re so lucky to live in.”
So far, the Legacy Forest campaign has overseen the planting of 8,085 seedlings, which represents around 500 patient care visits by Bristlecone Health Services nurses to the under- and non-insured.
EVENING OF LAUGHTER
Traditionally, the Friday before planting day features a comedy-centric event. This year’s guest star is Clinton Jackson, who has recently appeared on Comedy Central and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” The event will also feature the musical talents of Randall McKinnon and Nancy Cook.
“Both the tree planting day and the comedy show is family friendly,” said Armstrong.
A silent auction, starting at 6 p.m., features a variety of donated items, including restaurant gift certificates; rounds of golf at the Breckenridge Golf Course, The Keystone Ranch Golf Course, The Keystone River Course and Copper Creek Golf Course; spa, massage and acupuncture packages; original artwork; and water activities like rafting, sailing and pontoon boating.
“If you can’t make the tree planting day, come and support us and have a good belly laugh,” Armstrong said. “We have a great auction with amazing auction items.”
BRISTLECONE HEALTH SERVICES
All the money raised from the planting day, comedy event and silent auction goes to support Bristlecone Health Services, the only fully licensed homecare health provider in Summit County. The organization offers in-home care to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors, including hospice care. The funds from the Legacy Planting campaign will help pay for assistance for under- and non-insured patients.
In 2007, Lori O’Bryan’s husband suffered a compound ankle fracture from a snowmobile accident. A following infection required installation of a port — a medical device that goes under the skin. The O’Bryans, who live about 13 miles outside of Silverthorne, relied on Bristlecone nurses for help. Lori remembers one night around midnight she called a nurse, worried.
“She said, ‘It’s OK, that’s what I’m here for,’” Lori recalled.
Since then, O’Bryan has become active on the Bristlecone Foundation board, and acts as the Legacy Forest event chairwoman. One of her goals is to inform as many people as possible about the services Bristlecone provides.
“You don’t realize it’s there until you need it,” she said. “You don’t realize how many people need something like this until you’re active with it and you find how many people it touches.”
A LEGACY TO LOOK AT
Recently, Armstrong biked around Lake Dillon with her husband. During their trip, she looked around at all the trees as they passed.
“It was so cool for me because we biked by the Frisco planting site and I said, ‘Look at the trees here!’ because they’re this tall now,” she said, holding her hand about 3 feet off the ground. “The kids from Frisco Elementary School planted those seedlings and they’re doing great. Then we came up on to Dillon and the nature preserve and we biked by all those planting areas. … It just feels so good when you see those trees and you know that you’ve impacted this community in a good way.
“It’s almost like every seedling represents a patient that’s somehow gotten help because of that seeding. It’s such a tribute.”