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February 08, 2006 - Urban Peak Climbs the Peak

What: 9th Annual Climb the Peak Event

Where: Tivoli Student Union - Auraria Campus

When: February 8, 2006

Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Ticket Prices: $75 adults, $20.00 youth 18 and under

Beneficiary: Urban Peak Programs

Honoree(s): Youth: Cassidy Allen, Courtnei LeDay, James Lewis, Ken Blankenship, Shalon Messey; Top Docs: Dr. Christine Gilroy, HealthOne Alliance; Dr. Ann-Christine Nyquist, MSPH, Children's Hospital; Dr. Joe Craig, Rocky Mountain Youth; Dr. Jenny Burns, Rocky Mountain Youth; Dr. Damien Mulvany, ACACIA Dental Group

Welcome: Craig Archibald, CEO Urban Peak

Speaker: Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth

Catering: Biscuits & Berries

Sponsors: ADCO General, Wagner Investment Management, Inc., The Children's Hospital, Gary-Williams Energy Corporation, The Colorado Trust

Attendance: 400

Information: www.urbanpeak.org

Board of Directors: Craig Archibald, - CEO, Alex Ritchie, Charles Knight, Dave Ryan, Dave Younggren - Chair, David Banks, David Goldberg, Diane Leede, Disk Thomas, Helen Upton, Janet Meyers-Colley, Jim Grenfell, Joanne Reilly, Kathy Cranmer, Paige Lankster, Rich Rainaldi, Rob Alvarado, Ron Barber, Susan Noble, Suzanne Discenza, Terry Brown, Todd Fredrickson, Thomas R. Schilling, Tony Mayer, Trinidad Rodriguez, Valeri Gimple

Blacktie Photos by: Stacy Ohlsson


 The Spot's Brian keeps
The Spot's Brian keeps "Casper" and John in line

Stacy Ohlsson

“Climbing a peak is not a one-person journey. It is a communal journey,” said youth honoree, James Lewis, as he reflected on the impact that Urban Peak and its programs has had on his life.

James and four other youth who have been successful in making the long journey from the streets to productive independence were honored at Urban Peak’s Ninth Annual “Climb the Peak” celebration on Wednesday, February 8, 2005, along with five “Top Docs” who have been instrumental in providing a wide array of medical treatment for homeless youth.

Turn Halle in the Tivoli Student Union was the perfect venue with its old distressed walls, high ceilings and curtained stage. Biscuits and Berries provided sumptuous heavy hors D’Oeuvres, fruit and desserts along two very long, wide tables. Urban Peak and The Spot youth, dressed in doctor’s scrubs, passed appetizers to guests.

Many teens end up at Urban Peak as a last resort, hopeless and helpless, after having hit a bottom so low that any kind of future seems impossible. The Peak provides a safe, respectful, caring and stable environment for youth to gather their wits, evaluate their lives and start making changes.

Without medical care and health education, however, the youth at Urban Peak programs would not have a fighting chance. Many years ago, Larry Wolk, MD brought together several doctors and dentists through Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, to work with Urban Peak youth. Urban Peak’s medical clinic started out as a sinkless “dungeon” in the original Urban Peak house, but now, through fundraising efforts, renovation, and dedication, a “real” clinic! Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics have three freestanding sites, as well as two mobile units.

Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, last years’ recipient of the “Tom Knorr Community Leadership Award,” presented the 2006 award to five “Top Docs” on Wednesday night. Honorees were Dr. Joe Craig and Dr. Jenni Burns from Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, Dr. Ann-Christine Nyquist of Children’s Hospital, Dr Christine Gilroy with HealthOne Alliance, and dentist Damien Mulvaney.

Anne Harris, Urban Peak’s Director of Development introduced the five youth honorees, reminding patrons to “value the integrity and honor the person” of homeless youth.

James Lewis, who turned his life around after only four months, thanked Urban Peak for “keeping me from losing my hair, or having it turn purple or blue.” James has found a job, gotten his own apartment, and is enrolled for classes at Metro State College. “My success is your success,” he told the staff at Urban Peak.

Shalon Massey was raised “in the system.” Foster homes, group homes, jail. Suicidal. He found his way to The Spot, where he participated enthusiastically in the music program and completed his GED. He’s currently self-sufficient and even has a video on MTV2. In addition to Brian and JC at The Spot, Shalon credits his success to his faith in God.

Cassidy Allen, at age 16, found herself on the streets, addicted to meth, and facing jail time. She ran away from residential treatment and somehow ended up at Urban Peak. Their STAR program (Starting Transitions and Recovery) provided stability and daily treatment for her addiction, and she will graduate on February 14, 2006 after being sober for 7 months. Cassidy has earned her GED, is has attended classes at CCD, will soon start the cosmetology program at Emily Griffith, and has reconnected with her family. Urban Peak and STAR provided Cassidy with “the strength, courage and tools to achieve my dreams.”

Courtnei LeDay grew up in the Denver Public School system, but was somehow “left behind” and didn’t graduate from East High. Instead, she graduated from The Spot’s GED program and enrolled in classes at CCD. The caring community at The Spot provided “a safe, positive environment” for Courtnei to realize her potential.

Ken Blankenship was saved from an abusive, alcoholic family by his aunt when he was ten years old, but the trauma ran deep and he ended up homeless and on drugs. He obtained his GED and joined the Army, and was honorably discharged. On the streets again, doing drugs, and suicidal, Ken found Urban Peak when he was only a “shell of a human being.” There, he received “an amazing continuum of care, from court advocacy to treatment.” He told the audience on Wednesday night, “They didn’t give up on me even when I gave up on myself.” Ken has been clean for nearly two years, is the assistant to the director at the Phoenix Treatment program, and will soon be a certified addictions counselor. “They have truly saved my life!”

Through the commitment of the case managers, outreach workers, volunteers, donors, and the youth, Urban Peak has made a better life for countless youth on the streets. Add to that the support of so many community leaders and collaborating agencies, and the dream of having no more homeless youth will become a reality.

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