Bush look-alike might meet the real McCoy | SummitDaily.com

Bush look-alike might meet the real McCoy

BRECKENRIDGE – Brad Groll might get his 15 seconds of fame when the George W. Bush look-alike meets the man he emulates most at a fund raiser in Denver next week.

The Blue River man has worked in the food service industry most of his life, but broke into show business after employees at Copper Mountain Resort noticed the resemblance between Groll and Bush. They notified a Denver television station; later, Groll received a call from a writer from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

It looked like a new career might be in the making, politely poking fun of the leader of the free world.

But when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September, the environment changed. Officials at “The Tonight Show” didn’t want someone poking fun at Bush, and Groll wasn’t sure he wanted to, either.

“To me, it was almost a good thing that was cancelled, because what I’m doing now, I feel really good about.”

His first gig was at a Denver West Chamber of Commerce mixer this spring, followed by a Lincoln Days Republican luncheon and fund raiser at the Easter Seals Camp in Empire with Gov. Bill Owens.

That’s where Groll met Juan Botero, director of strategic communications for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. Botero soon became a liaison between Groll and Republican candidates running for various offices.

“He thought it would be a hoot to start using me at some of the campaign things,” Groll said.

Earlier this summer, Groll headed to a ranch near Castle Rock to entertain guests at a fund raiser for Republican state Rep. Tom Wiens. A month ago, he was introduced as “an honored guest” at a dinner for Allard in Denver. Groll was surrounded by “Secret Service” men.

“It was one of those things where it was almost fun,” Groll said. “I got a standing ovation – until I opened my mouth.”

Groll has Bush’s looks: the squinted eyes, the slightly downturned mouth, the jawline, the gestures and hair. But his accent is far north of Texas.

“As I walk in, the whole place stands up,” Groll said. “They say, “I voted for you,’ or, “I’m a Democrat; I’m sorry,’ But as I walk through, they realize I’m not Bush. The main thing people get a charge out of is to get pictures. The look is definitely there. They’ll say, “My mother loves George Bush; she’s not going to believe it when they see these pictures.'”

People also request signatures – he only signs his real name or “George Bush Look-alike.”

Three weeks ago, Groll attended debates in Grand Junction between Allard and his opponent, Democrat Tom Strickland and between Owens and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rollie Heath. And Sunday night at Copper Mountain, Groll was hired to give a speech about the economy to a group of air conditioning and heating officials at a conference there.

The reactions he gets are typically of shock and amazement.

Groll was standing in the tack room at the Wiens fund raiser awaiting his introduction when a woman peeked through the door.

“She asked somebody, “Is that who I think it is?'” Groll recalled. “”Can I speak to him?’ So she comes in, we shake hands, she’s trembling, saying what an honor it was to meet me, how she and her husband served under me, how they pray for me. … At first, I thought she was putting me on. She was as sincere as a heart attack. Later, she asked Wiens, “How did you get the president at your fund raiser?'”

Friday, Groll will attend a luncheon fund raiser for Republican Bob Beauprez, a U.S. Congress candidate. Representatives with Allard have asked White House staff if Groll could have a few seconds with Bush.

“It’s a crapshoot,” Groll said, adding that he’s pretty sure Bush knows of Groll and the pair’s similarity. “I’m always asked if I’ve met the president. You’d think he’d be trying to meet me. He looks like me.”

Bush is scheduled to be in Denver for a mere 60 minutes, so Groll knows he might only see him for 10 or 15 seconds. He also might get to be in photos with some of those attending the $1,000-a-plate luncheon.

“Most politicians have a picture of themselves with the president. But how many politicians have a picture of themselves with two presidents?”

Groll, who admits he’s “learned a lot about politics” in the last several months, is now excited to meet Bush.

“The one thing that I hoped would happen when this all started was that I would have the opportunity to meet him,” Groll said. “I feel he’s done a great job. Whether he’s a Republican or Democrat isn’t the issue; he’s a human being. He’s faced with a lot of diversity, and he’s done a wonderful job of handling it. And maybe I can do a little bit of good in America instead of poking fun of everybody. I’m not taking it too seriously. I’m having fun with it.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

New foundation to help those with rare disorder

BLUE RIVER – Brad Groll plans to keep his day job as a banquet manager at Copper Mountain Resort. But he also hopes to maintain his growing presence as a George W. Bush look-alike, both for fun and to benefit his son, David.

David has Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder, caused by an irregularity on the 15th chromosome, which affects his development. David is 15, but has the mental skills of a 2- to 4-year-old. He is one of between 1,500 and 2,000 people in the world with the syndrome.

Groll and his wife, Julie, set up a living trust to take care of David when the couple no longer can. But through contacts Groll has made with regional, state and federal politicians by doing Bush impersonations, he’s learned that trust might not be the best way to help his son.

Groll is now working to establish the David Nathan Groll Foundation to raise funds to take care of David. Later, funds will be diverted to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation to conduct research.

Angelman’s isn’t all bad, Groll said. David is a happy teen, always smiling and laughing.

“The initial reactions I get are either, “God, I’m really sorry,’ – that’s not the one I’m looking for – or, “God, you’re really blessed,'” Groll said. “It’s work, but it’s not. This is all we know. And we’d do anything for him.”

David, the couple’s only child, skis and whitewater rafts. His favorite ride at Elitch Gardens in Denver is Mind Eraser – the big kids’ ride, Groll said. “He has no fear. Every day is Disneyland.”

Groll said he’s noticed some improvement in David’s comprehension skills in the past year. When Groll suggested he and David get the family’s two dogs a bone – something he doesn’t say on a regular basis – David went to the closet, retrieved two bones and gave them to the dogs outside.

“My jaw dropped,” Groll said. “It’s little things like that. He’s understanding cause and effect by working on the computer. If he grabs the mouse and starts moving it, something’s going to start moving on the screen. When it snowed last week, he went in his room and came out with his ski goggles.”

Groll puts in up to 70 hours a week as a banquet manager, and his gig as Bush has become a campaign to help David.

“Now what I’m doing is personal,” he said. “I’m trying to make a better life for our family.”

Some would already say he has done that.

“When I get home,” Groll said, “I get a hug and kiss each night.”

Not many fathers of 15-year-olds can say that.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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