Over 550 guests were transported back to the Roaring Twenties at this year’s Big Shots Gala. The Art Deco inspired ballroom at the Sheraton Denver Downtown was filled with flappers and Great Gatsby adorned attendees all coming out to support the proven power of one-to-one mentoring. This particular gala was iconic as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado (BBBSC) celebrated their Centennial Anniversary. It was also a celebration of all of Bigs and Littles who were matched over the past century and their incredible journeys. The event raised nearly $400,000 surpassing what the organization had projected. Premier sponsors for the evening included Great-West Financial & Empower Retirement; KeyBank; and Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie.
The evening was kicked off with opening remarks from Governor John Hickenlooper who spoke about how he could have used a mentor in his life after his father passed away when he was a young boy. The 2018 BBBSC Match of the Year – Remington and Kadir – were recognized for their dedication to the program and brought to the stage to share their story. Remington’s mother was also in attendance to speak about her experience with the organization, highlighting how it “takes a village to raise a child” and what a big role BBBSC has played in her son’s development. Remington will be attending Colorado University next fall.
Then it was on to celebrating 100 years of history. In 1918, when BBBSC was founded, Colorado had sent nearly 43,000 soldiers, sailors and marines off to fight in WWI. The state (as well as the rest of the country) was battling an influenza epidemic that killed more than 7,000 Coloradans, and tuberculosis was on the rise. Denver Attorney and Juvenile Court Officer Claude Blake was seeing a rise in fatherless boys in Denver who were getting into trouble and showing up in the court system. And so, on September 17th, Claude got some friends together and founded "The Big Brother Movement of Denver."
Claude was matched with 12-year-old Jack Herbert, whose mother had moved here from rural New Mexico after his father had died when he was four. After Jack, working as a mucker in Moffat Tunnel, was hurt in an accident in the tunnel, Claude encouraged Jack to give up the tunnel work and instead focus on his education. Several years later, an article showed up in the Rocky Mountain News, announcing that Jack had graduated from Manual High School, winning the public speaking prize, and that Claude was putting him on a train to college at Union Station. The headline read: "Denver's Original Little Brother Going to Harvard."
In those first few years, the Denver Big Brother Movement was able to serve about 75 kids a year. Over the 100 years since then, the movement has grown in strength, breadth and impact. “We estimate that over the past century, this organization has matched and supported more than 75,000 of Colorado's boys and girls, utilizing over 3.8 million volunteer hours,” said Dave Ryan, CEO and President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. “That’s just incredible to me – think of the impact! Organizations don't get to be 100 years old just by surviving. They endure because they don't lose their relevance. They endure because they continue to show proven results. They endure because they adapt and innovate. They endure because people in the community commit their lives to supporting the mission.”
To learn more about the events planned for the Centennial Year here: http://www.biglittlecolorado.org/100