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One of my favorite quotes is the one by Fred Rogers, who said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’”

This was widely circulated during the Boston bombings, but I’ve found also entirely appropriate for the Black Forest Fire. I’ve always known I have some pretty amazing friends and a great support system, but experiencing the massive tidal wave of affection and concern as my family and I fret over the fate of my home has been a deeply humbling experience.  Our community truly has some fantastic human beings that spring into action when the cards are down. For this, I am eternally grateful to several folks who have and continue to help my family through this exhausting ordeal.

We owe thanks to all of our friends and family who have been praying and offering wide ranges of assistance from new beer koozies (to replace the crappy Ohio States ones that my husband owns), animal care, and actual rooms in their homes.  We also thank Trinity Brewing, Pikes Peak Brewery and Great Harvest Bread Company for donating beer and bread to our cause, and to my ex-husband, Greg Warren, for briefly taking in two of my dogs to ease the acute stress of sudden displacement. Many thanks as well to Central Bark for later taking in my three biggest dogs at no charge. There is also my employer, Odyssey Systems, and my supervisor, John Kaufman, who donated 32 hours of his own personal leave to give me the greatly needed time off to care for my family and all the nuances of prolonged evacuation. These people are the heroes, right alongside the firefighters, first responders and volunteers who continue to fight tirelessly to preserve others dreams and hopes.

We received enormous support from the many volunteers at the Citizen Service Center and several organizations to include The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Care & Share, CenturyLink, United Policy Holders Advocacy and even Silver Key (yes, I know we’re not senior citizens, but they provided convenient bags to hold all of the documents and paraphernalia associated with the center).

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we also received critical help from my Triple Crown Running teammate, Jon Teisher and his wife, Katie, who took my family in at an odd hour on a moment’s notice - selflessly sharing their home, as well as water and power for our yard-consuming RV. 

Most recently, I received support from one of our Pikes Peak Sports Triple Crown Running sponsors, Cary Vogrin, owner of Westside Papa Murphy’s at 3105 W Colorado Ave. Cary was generous enough to provide pizzas and a salad for my ravenous crew who remains confined to a new RV location directly across from her store. As if providing food and team sponsorship wasn’t enough, she also drove us back to the park with our food when the God sent rain came pouring down before we left the store. Her business is truly filled with good people and good food and we are especially grateful for her kindness and generosity.

So when it comes down to the basics, I have determined that the world, is, in fact, filled with the helpers that Mrs. Rogers saw years ago. They’re still out there working now as the fire hasn’t been extinguished yet.  However, I’m guessing they’ll still be there when it’s over, but likely more discreet and easily overlooked.  My hope is that we will continue to remember the incredible good and enormous help we’ve seen in times like these.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate my 41st birthday with friends from all across the city.  I assure you it’s more than just a birthday party.  It will be a celebration of all the wonderful things that I’ve seen this week and that I want to remember always.  I hope you will as well.  I’m going to start the day by running the Sailin’ Shoes 10K with my kids and then I’m going to kick back, relax and enjoy the day.  If you get your run in, too, and get hungry later, I know a great pizza place you can go…

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Comment by Melvin Watson on June 18, 2013 at 8:12am

Totally Awesome Vanessa!!!

Comment by CJ Hitz on June 17, 2013 at 2:47pm

Good stuff Vanessa...what a fantastic attitude and outlook. Your example in this difficult time is powerful.  It's in dark times when God shines brightest.  It's also an opportunity for heroes to shine.  Btw, I celebrated my 40th yesterday

Comment by Tim Bergsten on June 14, 2013 at 11:42pm

This is awesome ... just frickin' awesome.

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