Locals pitch in for Valdez benefit
FRISCO – Rob Valdez apparently made a lot of friends during his three-year stay in Summit County.
And if the recent outpouring of support for the late 29-year-old is any indication, Valdez’s many acquaintances and former coworkers plan to do whatever they can to help Valdez’s family and honor his memory.
Valdez, former manager at Ti Amo and cook at the Blue Spruce Inn, died last week in Costa Rica under still unexplained circumstances.
“Big” Steve Huntley, a fellow cook at the Blue Spruce and one of Valdez’s best friends, has worked to organize a combination silent auction and memorial party oday at 7 p.m. at the Spruce.
Huntley has invited local musicians and everyone who knew Valdez for a big evening with an important objective – collecting donations through a silent auction to help to raise the $7,000 necessary to help Valdez’s family return his body to the United States.
“Rob was a great guy – probably one of the best souls you’d meet out here,” Huntley says. “I lived with him last year before he headed off to Costa Rica … and he actually got me the job here, too. So when I got word from his family three days ago, we started working hard to organize something.”
Over the course of the weekend, Huntley and friend David Gesser collected an impressive array of materials to be auctioned off, including a pair of Volant Gravity skis, a kayak, raft trips, a Vortex backpack, a round of golf for four at Copper Creek and many others.
“We’ve also got a stack of gift certificates from almost every part of the county, plus lots of stuff from the ski shops and National Distribution, the liquor company,” Huntley says.
Tonight’s benefit will feature performances by Blue Spruce regular Leon Joseph Littlebird and a cast of Summit County musicians, plus food provided by the Spruce and Fiesta Jalisco.
Huntley says he and fellow organizers will also be collecting direct contributions for Valdez’s family and their funeral expenses.
“We had initially planned on putting money collection jars around town, but we found out that his family needs money to come in as soon as it can, so we organized this benefit. And the community response has been totally great. And we’re hoping we can get as close to $7,000 as we can.”
Valdez’ sister, Silverthorne resident Dee Garcia, is currently in the family’s home town – Texas City, Texas, a community near Galveston – where a funeral will be held on Tuesday. Garcia says she and her family have been overwhelmed by the support for her late brother in Summit County.
“It’s just amazing that he has all those friends up there,” Garcia said. “And it’s been all his friends who’ve helped arrange this benefit.”
Garcia says the family has received no additional information from authorities about the circumstances surrounding Valdez’s death, which reportedly occurred at a San Jose, Costa Rica hotel July 14.
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