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May 12, 2009 - I Have A Dream Foundation toasts Rob Cohen

What: A Toast to Rob Cohen: A Toast is Not a Roast

Where: Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center

When: Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time: 5:30-9 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $300

Beneficiary: Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation

Honoree(s): Rob Cohen

EMCEE: Reggie Rivers and Bill Hanzlik

Honorary Chairperson(s): Stever Farber, Former Mayor Wellington Webb, Mayor John Hickenlooper, Maria Garcia Berry, Bruce Benson, Joe Blake

Executive Director: Mary Hanewall

Speaker: Anthony Carter (Denver Nuggets point guard), Mayor John Hickenlooper, Scott Binder (Sr. VP, Comcast), Joe Blake (CEO and President, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce)

Catering: Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center

Of note: Summit Award-winners: Omolayo Dada, Jose Octavios Dias-Fernandez

Sponsors: Platinum Sponsor: The IMA Financial Group, Inc. and Gold Sponsors: MegaStar Financial Corp., Barefoot Wine and Bubbly

Auctioneer: Reggie Rivers

Quote of the evening: Reggie Rivers handing a Champ Bailey-autographed football to Bill Hanzlik: "I don't want to drop it. That's what ended my career as a Bronco."

Menu: Family-style salads: gourmet greens and traditional Caesar...entree: buffalo meatloaf w/wild mushroom sauce, crispy fried chicken w/tomato chutney, sweet corn spoon bread, green beans and baby carrots...dessert: trio of strawberry shortcake, mini donut w/coffee mousse and coconut cream tart plus chocolate chocolate cake w/raspberry sauce

Attendance: 600-plus

Attire: Business to festive


Event Coordinator: Amy Farnan, Director of Advancement

Planning Committee: Ticket Committee: Justin Ball, Pat Cortez, George Flanders, Robert Hochstadt, Tracy Huggins, Brad Jeffress, David Kenney, Gregory Kolomitz, Joan McDermott, Stuart Pattison, Richard Scharf

Board of Directors: Jacqueline Berardini (Pres), Phillip Anthony Washington (VP), Rusty Wehner (Sec), David A. Simon (Treas), Rich Rainaldi (Past Pres)

Steering Committee: Carrie Besnette, Joe Blake, Noel & Leslie Ginsburg, Steve Kaplan, Rich Rainaldi, Carolyn S. Wollard

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake won a basketball autographed by Denver Nugget Chauncey Billups
Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake won a basketball autographed by Denver Nugget Chauncey Billups

For 20 years, the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation’s signature event was the “roast” of a prominent Denverite and organization supporter. This year the celebration shifted to “toast” mode and while everyone got the memo, most were compelled to add a large serving of roast on the side. The result was an entertaining verbal banquet of heartfelt sentiment and comic anecdotes about honoree Rob Cohen. While serving as Chairman and CEO of The IMA Financial Group, Cohen’s civic contributions continue to span the city's most visible organizations: CIHAD, the DPS Foundation and Metropolitan State College, the Denver Metro Sports Commission, Chamber of Commerce and Craig Hospital. With those heavy hitters as only a partial list of Cohen’s activities, the recurring theme of the night was: How does he find the time to do it all? One person concluded that Cohen no doubt tells each board he’s going to another group’s meeting—then goes home to watch “Andy Griffith” reruns.

CBS4 personality Reggie Rivers and Denver Nuggets TV analyst Bill Hanzlik emceed the evening’s program, with Hanzlik serving as the voice of reason alongside Rivers’ witty zingers. Denver Nuggets point guard Anthony Carter, an alumnus of the IHAD program in Atlanta (and in the midst of NBA playoff success), had inspiring words for young “Dreamers” in the audience. Mayor John Hickenlooper presented Summit Awards to two college-bound Dreamers: Omolayo Dada and Jose Octavios Dias-Fernandez.

Comcast Sr. VP Scott Binder and Joe Blake, Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce CEO and President, introduced Cohen with personal anecdotes and praise. Members of Rob and Molly Cohen’s class of Dreamers spoke of personal growth achieved due to their mentorship, and with the entire group onstage Rob took time to hug each one before addressing a rapt audience. He talked about establishing priorities in a changing economy as he heaped praise on his wife, family and Dreamers, along with his numerous friends and associates.

An impromptu live auction at program’s end garnered more funds for CIHAD with auctioneer Reggie Rivers cajoling bidders to aim high for items that included coveted NBA playoff tickets plus one-to-one time with Anthony Carter that Carter added on the spot. If it's possible that 600 attendees of all ages and backgrounds could feel like they were at family dinner instead of a corporate function, the event succeeded.

CIHAD helps some of Denver’s most disadvantaged youth achieve academic success by adopting classes of students and providing comprehensive assistance through their completion of high school. Director of Advancement Amy Farnan said, “The money we raise impacts kids who really deserve it, kids changing expectations. While they might have seen a 12-percent high school graduation projection, we help them achieve a 90-percent rate. If we put time and energy in them they will succeed. Overall, we do good work!” For more information, visit

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