This past week’s eighth annual fundraiser for Challenge Aspen was the most successful in its history, according to the nonprofit’s executive director.
Challenge Aspen CEO and co-founder Houston Cowan said while it’s unknown exactly how much the Vince Gill & Amy Grant Golf Classic raised this past Monday and Tuesday, it’s by far more than in previous years. Last’s year take was about $250,000, he said.
“It’s the most successful event Challenge Aspen has had in its 15 years,” he said, adding the money raised will enable 800 disabled veterans and others with disabilities to participate in the Snowmass Village-based organization’s summer and winter programs.
Challenge Aspen offers 23 week-long recreational and cultural opportunities to wounded warriors through its C.A.M.O. (Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities) program, as well as providing 4,300 participant days throughout the year for people with disabilities.
Houston credits part of this year’s success to the St. Regis Aspen for hosting Monday night’s gala, which was attended by 500 people. It’s a larger venue than in previous years, and with its renovated facilities, was able to accommodate that many people without any glitches.
“The St. Regis really allowed us to breathe,” he said. “St. Regis went over the top.”
Sponsorships, a silent auction and the cost of tickets to the gala and golf tournament, held at the Aspen Golf Club, account for this year’s total take.
Houston also credits Aspen residents Tom and Wendy DiVenere, who are big supporters of the organization, for helping attract a new cross-section of attendees.
The two-day event, along with year-round fundraisers and programming, is a far cry from where the organization was when it started. In 1995, Houston and co-founder Amanda Boxtell worked out of an office that used to be a room where Aspen Skiing Co. stored its toilet paper.
As Grant noted at the gala — performing with her husband, Gill, and musicians Patti Austin, Edwin McCain and John Oates — Aspen is a community that is dedicated to making possibilities for people with disabilities. She told the crowd she’d never seen so much love in one room and for the right reasons, Houston recalled.
“I’ve never seen a community with such an outpouring, not just financially but with volunteerism and sponsorships,” he added.