Choose Your Team
Event Planning

Captured Event

October 25, 2008 - 15th Annual Western Fantasy Thunders In

What: Fundraiser for Volunteers of America

Where: National Western Events Center

When: Saturday, October 25, 2008

Time: 5:45 p.m.

Ticket Prices: Individual tickets: $300; young professional: $150; sponsorships: $3,000-$50,000

Beneficiary: homeless, elderly, needy children and families

Honoree(s): Humanitarian Award: Dick Saunders

Corporate Chairperson(s): Chair: Ed Haselden; Committee: Steve Barlow, Chris Castilian, Karin Catton, Keith Champeau, Steve Demby, Tom Flanigan, John Fitzpatrick, Barry Hirschfeld, Debbie Jessup, C. David Kikumoto, Ralph Klomp, Aaron LePedis, Martin Litt, Sharon Magness Blake, Kalleen and Bob Malone, Jim Maetzold, Marjorie Maudlin, Bill McCallum, Kate Paul, Dean Prina, Joe Pepper, Patricia Robinson, David Rye, Dan Scherer, Lynn Taussig, Lary Weintraub, Scott Wiley

Founders: VOA Founders: Maud & Ballington Booth; Western Fantasy Founders: Sharon Magness Blake, Jean Galloway

Co-Chair(s): Gail Johnson and Dick Saunders

Committee Members: Auction Committee: Carolynn Bond, Steve Edmonds, Kathy Hatch, Carol McTavish, Lyn Schaffer, Susan Stiff;
Young Professionals Committee: Katie Behnke, Donna Crafton, Jill Hixon, Greg Karl, Jennifer Olinger, Monica Owens, Brandis Becky Pelletier, Kristin Strohm Reid.

President(s): & CEO: Dianna L. Kunz

Invocation: Dianna Kunz

Libations: Beringer Chardonnay and Fetzer Merlot

Catering: Epicurean Catering

Entertainment: Hottest risiing country star Dierks Bentley

Music: special opening with Lee Greenwood singing his signature song, "God Bless the USA"

Sponsors: New Millennium Partners: Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake; Phyllis Coors, Paragon Ranch; Diamond Stars: Anadarko Petroleum, CW2, Denver Newspaper Agency, First Data Corp., Yvonne and Bill McCallum, Hyde Park Jewelers, Saunders Construction, Starz Entertainment, Wells Fargo Bank, Delta Dental; Gold Nuggets: Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, CSW Logistics, Comcast, Kristina and Jay Davidson and Georgia and Walt Imhoff, The Deevy Family, Epicurean Catering, First Western Trust Bank, Great West Life Assurance, Barbara and Ed Greene, Haselden Construction, Jones International, Matrix Business Consulting, MillerCoors, National Hirschfeld, Newmont Mining Corp., Saunders Construction, Scribbles, Anna & John J. Sie Family Foundation, Trice Jewelers, Whiting Petroleum Corp.; Silver Sponsors: ARC, Ball Corp., The Barton Family, The Brett Family Foundation, CBS Outdoor, Cherry Creek Mortgage, Citywide Banks, Colorado Business Bank, Colorado Rockies and Aramark, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Denver Broncos Football Club, Denver Management Advisors, Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman PC, FirstBank, Forest Oil Corp., Galloway Group, Graebel Companies, Greiner Electric, Barbara Grogan, Holme Roberts & Owen, IMA of Colorado Inc., The Integer Group, Carol land Brad James, Gail and George Johnson, Jones Realty Group, Kamlet Sheperd & Reichert, Kentwood Companies, KPMG, Dixie and Harold Kunz, LIberty Global, Lockton Companies, MDC/Richmond American Homes, Meadow Homes, MediaNewsGroup, Merrill Lynch, Mutual of America, National Western Stock Show Assn., Hutchison Westen, Neiman Marcus, OfficeScapes, Karen and Jim Possehl, Bryan Pulte, RK Mechanical, Robinson Dairy, UMB Bank, University of Colorado Hospital, University of Denver, Westin Tabor Center

Menu: Crisp wedge of Romaine served with a tricolor Tortellini salad with tomato, cucumbers, olives, artichokes & Mozzarella pearls tossed in basil vinaigrette; beef tenderloin in wild mushroom sauce; creamy mashed sweet potatoes; creamed spinach; buttermilk onion rings; dark chocolate cake with a warm molten lava center; Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream; chocolate dipped espresso beans, raspberries and a white chocolate star.

Attendance: sold out crowd of 1,125

Florist: Bouquets

Board of Directors: Chair: Dave Rye; Immediate Past Chair: Bryan J. Pulte; President and CEO: Dianna L. Kunz; Vice Chair: Kalleen Malone; Secretary: Myrna Mourning; Treasurer: Robert F. Bardwell Jr.; Patrick Beirne, Dean Boosalis, Steve Brett, Rick Bruno, Mark Carleton, Karin Catton, Mark Cordova, Peggy Driscoll, Dianne Eddolls, Sam Freeman, Stacia Freimuth, Barbara Grogan, Joe Hodas, Carol James, C. David Kikumoto, Kathy Klugman, Martin Litt, Jim Maetzold, Sharon Magness Blake, Larry Martinez, Marjory Mauldin, Ed McBrien, Bill McCallum, Vivian Mount, Kathryn Paul, Glenn Rippey, Patricia Robinson, Larry Romrell, Dan Scherer, Don Shek, Mike Sweeney, Heather Tooker, Herminia Vigil, Lary Weintraub

Steering Committee: Debra Abbott Pain, David Alexander, Carolynn Bond, Cindi Burge, Donna Crafton, Kristina Davidson, Christel Dikeman, Steve Edmonds, Laura Fitch, Adrienne Ruston Fitzgibbons, Kelly Ford, Sharon Whiton Gelt, Barbara Greene, Lynne Hamstra, Kathy Hatch, Carol James, Gregg Karl, Nancy Lamb Thompson, Sandee LaPedis, Beverly Martinez, Yvonne and Bill McCallum, Carol McTavish, Diana Murdy, Gayle Novak, Jennifer Olinger, Frances Owens, Monica Owens, Brandis Pelletier, Michael Pollak, Louise Richardson, Steve Rosdal, Dave Rye, Lyn Schaffer, Sara Sena, Jaylene Smith, Susan Stiff, Tracy Ulmer, Faye Washington

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress and Nancy Koontz

 Committee members L to R: Steve Edmonds, Jaylene Smith, George & Gail Johnson (event chair), Cindi & Keith Burge, Louise & Scott Richardson, Adrienne & Jack Fitzgibbons
Committee members L to R: Steve Edmonds, Jaylene Smith, George & Gail Johnson (event chair), Cindi & Keith Burge, Louise & Scott Richardson, Adrienne & Jack Fitzgibbons


Hi, my name is Thunder. If I do say so myself, I get some pretty good gigs--riding around INVESCO field when the Denver Broncos make a touchdown, hanging out with Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, but I gotta tell ya, my time at this year's Western Fantasy was over the top. I'm a pretty handsome devil, but you should have seen all the dapper jackets the men had on and the really pretty western chic the gals were wearing--it was one of the best years ever.

Add to that the fact that I got to once again parade around the National Western Events Center with Sharon and my handler Ann and Ernie while my old friend Lee Greenwood sang his signature song, "God Bless the USA," which he wrote 25 years ago, that was pretty cool. I got to listen to some great auction packages this year, although the auctioning of the Harley they rode around the complex didn't leave my breathing air so fragrant at one point. But seeing event co-chair Gail Johnson riding around on the back of it with Jay Davidson--that made it worth it. And watching our old friend Dick Saunders receive this year's Humanitarian award, well who is more giving and generous, but also humble, than Dick?

I know I'm not supposed to tell anyone this, but someone snuck me a carrot from the luscious meal that Epicurean whipped up this year. I also got to smell the scrumptious flavor of the beef tenderloin in wild mushroom sauce, the creamy mashed sweet potatoes, the creamed spinach and the buttermilk onion rings.

And you know what I liked most of all? When they showed the video, and played this really cool song, that went something like this: "There is a candle in every soul...carry your candle, run toward the darkness, seek out the helpless...take your candle and go light the world." Seeing all the people that this great event highlights from Volunteers of America, well, that makes me proud. Volunteers have given over $3.5 million worth of volunteer time. That doesn't count my volunteer time in parading around the complex, however; we all know that adds quite a bit. (excuse the pun.) And those kids from the Colorado Children's Chorale!1 They can come to my corral anytime.

I don't mind telling you that rising country star Dierks Bentley and his band are pretty easy on the eyes, and I was able to listen to some great music he brought with him to entertain the sold-out crowd of 1,125. Well, time to head home and get ready for my next gig. See ya next year.

Since it’s inception in 1994, Western Fantasy has raised $16 million to support Volunteers of America helping children and families and our elderly neighbors in need across Colorado. Over 30 distinct human service programs run by Volunteers of America help low-income families and children, homebound seniors, women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence and homelessness and more.

Over one hundred years ago, a handful of inspired individuals began a journey that continues today through Volunteers of America. This journey brought them to the extremes of poverty, into the world of the abused, the destitute, the hungry, in to a world that lacked both material and spiritual comfort. These dedicated individuals, known as the Volunteers of America,  rolled up their sleeves and created shelter for homeless women and children and served meals throughout the year so that no one would hunger.

For more information, log on to


See More Past Events