Summit community comes together to support Flight For Life Nurse Dave Repsher (video)
Twenty months ago, Dave Repsher was burned across 90 percent of his body after a Flight For Life helicopter crash. On Saturday night, he spoke at Copper Station during an event hosted in his honor, thanking the community for their support.
Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation, a Littleton-based nonprofit, hosted a pond-hockey benefit for Repsher at Copper Mountain Resort this weekend and Repsher commented that being back at the resort meant a lot to him. He grew up here as a ski racer, and eventually became a ski patroller at Copper as well.s
The July 3, 2015 crash killed veteran pilot Patrick Mahany, and injured flight nurse Matthew Bowe. Although Bowe suffered internal injuries, he was able to return to work with Flight For Life.
But Repsher’s injuries were more severe. He received inpatient care from the University of Colorado Hospital for more than a year. He was released on Aug. 2 last year. He and his wife, Amanda, have been living in Denver in order for her husband to receive physical therapy. The road to recovery for Repsher is not over. Amanda said that Dave will be going in for surgery on his hand on Monday, and that he will eventually need a kidney transplant.
Martin Richardson, the president of Dawg Nation, organized a similar event for Repsher in January last year. After raising $85,000, Amanda was able to take a year off from her job as a nurse at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center to help take care of her husband. Richardson said that he is hoping to raise around $50,000 at the event this weekend.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that we wouldn’t be here without the support of the community,” said Dave.
He added that the donation from Dawg Nation not only came to his aid, but Amanda’s as well. Having her with him during the last 20 months of his recovery has been a big help.
“She was definitely my biggest advocate,” he said.
Richardson and Dawg Nation have been working with Repsher through much of his recovery process. He recently helped organize an event with the Colorado Avalanche, making Repsher the Hometown Hero of the Game in January. Richardson said that he had hockey legends, like retired player and current Avalanche announcer Peter McNab, come to visit Repsher in the hospital. He also brought in retired player Derek Armstrong. Both Armstrong and McNab visited Repsher several times after that. Richardson said that Armstrong in particular had a “soft spot” for Repsher.
“He flew out to be here on his own dime,” Richardson said.
Repsher said that the hockey community all the way from the “beer leagues to the big leagues” has been there to support him, especially at Dawg Nation.
“They’re friends for life now,” said Amanda. “We’ve been humbled. This is still a very emotional process for us.”
The benefit started Friday night with a handful of hockey games at the Center Village. Former NHL players Milan Hejduk, Armstrong and Jan Hejda played in the tournament. People could bid on the players to join their teams, with the proceeds going to Repsher. A team of kids also had the opportunity to play against the pros on Friday.
Registration for the tournament sold out with 26 teams playing across three rinks. St. Anthony Summit Medical Center fielded a team in Repsher’s honor, and raised $1,250 to have Hejda play for them. The Vakota Capitals raised $1,300 to have Hejduk on their team. Armstrong played with the D-Reps, who named themselves after Repsher. They raised $1,100. Hockey games continued at 7 a.m. Saturday, before winding down at 4 p.m. Admission for the event was free.
At 7:30 p.m., the foundation played a video about Repsher’s recovery journey at Copper Station. After the video ended, Repsher spoke to attendees before a live auction.
Armstrong said that he enjoys being able to support people through Dawg Nation. After visiting the hospital, he saw how important Repsher is to the community. He added that Repsher has come a long way since the crash.
“He’s one of those stories that’s pretty special,” Armstrong said. “It’s truly amazing where he’s at.”
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