Colorado Grand helps fund Flight For Life crash site memorial park | SummitDaily.com

Colorado Grand helps fund Flight For Life crash site memorial park

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

The Colorado Grand pledged donations to several Summit County nonprofits this year, giving out a total of $443,000 in proceeds across western Colorado communities.

This year, in addition to several annual grants, the program is also pledging $15,000 to help fund a memorial park at the crash site of the Lifeguard Two Flight For Life helicopter. The July 3 crash took the life of pilot and decorated Vietnam veteran Patrick Mahany, and seriously injured flight nurses David Repsher and Matt Bowe.

"We have been giving Flight For Life grants since the very beginning," Colorado Grand spokesman Eddie O'Brien said. "This is a celebration of life. What a terrific loss we had when we lost Patrick."

Plans for the pocket park are being drafted, with Norris Design selected as the landscape architects for the project. O'Brien noted that in addition to the bidders, several locals have offered their time and services to help realize the memorial.

"We took the single bid, and the other bidders have said they still want to be involved in this," O'Brien said. "The landscape designers are donating time… This is a wonderful group."

Julie Kelble, who is chairing the park committee, said they planned to put the memorial park off of the recpath by the hospital, overlooking the crash site. The committee has been meeting since September, and hopes to open the park to the public on July 3, 2016.

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A STORIED HISTORY

The Colorado Grand, created in 1989 by automotive enthusiast Bob Sutherland, has raised more than $4 million to date. Funds are raised through entry fees and donations for the annual car tour, which features five days of vintage (pre-1960s) sports and racecars driving through Colorado's mountain towns.

Inspired by the Mille Miglia in Italy, the event took a turn of its own in bringing the cars through scenic mountain towns, and looking for ways to give back in turn.

Every year, the event gives funds to the Robert D. Sutherland Memorial Foundation to support bipolar-disorder therapy through a University of Colorado clinic, granting $40,000 this year.

The event also pledged a $150,000 donation to the Colorado State Patrol foundation, to help subsidize the Fallen Officers Fund, the Hardship Fund and the Tuition Scholarship Fund.

"We have this tremendous relationship with (Colorado State Patrol)," flight nurse Peter Werlin said. "They've been with us through our tragedy, and we've been with them through their tragedies."

Flight For Life and Colorado State Patrol receive grants from the Colorado Grand annually. In past years, the Grand has helped fund the Flight For Life Hangar at St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center, named after Sandy Signman and Gary McCall who died in a Lifeguard Two crash landing on Huron Peak in 1994.

"The board members continue to support Flight For Life and take pride in building the hangar," O'Brien said. "It was a community effort that built the hangar; the community 'owns' the hangar."

Colorado Grand also gave several grants to local nonprofits on Thursday, including the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Colorado Mountain College, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and the League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS).

The FIRC received $7,500 for parenting and fatherhood classes, and CMC will have an additional $4,000 to support GED and ESL programs in Summit County. CASA was granted $12,000 to fund child advocacy operations and volunteer training. In addition, LAPS was granted $4,000 to support a medical fund for low-income Summit County pet owners.

"These guys just come and pour money into our communities," Werlin said.