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October 20, 2012 - Western Fantasy 2012: "Stars Over the Rockies, Legends of the West"

What: The 19th annual signature fundraiser for Volunteers of America programs, an elegant Western-themed gala featuring concert by ACM award-winner Rodney Atkins, plus reception, dinner and live auction

Where: National Western Events Center

When: Saturday, October 20, 2012

Time: 5:45 pm reception; 7 pm dinner

Ticket Prices: Young professional: $150; individual: $300; patron: $500

Beneficiary: Volunteers of America Colorado Branch

Honoree(s): Kalleen Malone, recipient of The Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award

EMCEE: Ed Greene and Lauren Whitten, CBS4

Gala Chairperson(s): Carol and Bryce McTavish

Corporate Chairperson(s): Sharon Magness Blake and Lee Kunz

Founders: Sharon Magness-Blake and Jean Galloway

Executive Director: President & CEO Dianna L. Kunz

Staff: VOA executive management: Dianna Kunz, Mary Beth Heller, Amanda Gregg, John Drengacz, Sarada Leavenworth, Michael James, Dale Elliott, Torey Dixon, Virdell Miller, Lindi Sinton, Diane Stobnicke, Jim White

Catering: Epicurean Catering

Entertainment: Academy of Country Music award-winner Rodney Atkins

Sponsors: Major sponsors include: New Millenium Partners: Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, Phyllis M. Coors Foundation, Paragon Ranch; Diamond Stars: CBS4, Hyde Park Jewelers, Yvonne and Bill McCallum, The Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, Starz, Wells Fargo Bank; Gold Nuggets: 5280 Magazine, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Ball Corporation, Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, The Denver Broncos Football Club, Libby Anschutz Brown Foundation, Kay and Jim Burke, The Denver Post, Epicurean Catering, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Barbara and Ed Greene, Mary and Jerry Kern, Edie and Mort Marks, MillerCoors, Pinnacol Assurance, SunMeadow, United Launch Alliance

Menu: Salad: baby iceberg wedge, mixed greens, panko-crusted Jumping Good goat cheese, ruby red beets, roasted butternut squash, candied pumpkin seeds and red-wine vinaigrette; bread: buttermilk cornbread with bacon and cheddar cheese and hatch green chilies served with orange-honey butter; entree: grilled Black Angus tenderloin medallion with ranch-style potato with caramelized onions, sweet corn-truffle relish, green bean-and-carrot bundle and brandy-peppercorn sauce; Carol's Cobbler: individual apple-cherry cobbler, shortbread cookie tart, Robinson Dairy's vanilla ice cream, cinnamon oatmeal streusel, chocolate-zinfandel sauce and almond-brittle shard

Attendance: Sold out: 1,100

Attire: Legend of the West costume, or elegant Western attire

Special Thanks: Rodney Atkins; donors: Laura Barton and the Barton Family Foundation, Claudia and Bob Beauprez, Anita and Eugene Padilla Fitzgerald, Margot and M. Alan Gilbert Frank, Carol Haycock, Cathey Herron, Arlene and Barry Hirschfeld, Bill Milam, Dana and Bill Myers, Jane and Skip Netzorg, Jennifer and Brian O'Neill, Marilyn and Pete Coors, Jordan Perlmutter, Jeanne and Dick Saunders, Judy and Joe Wagner, Gayle and Rick Wheeler; patron partners: Kristina and Jay Davidson, Dave Guevara, Walt Imhoff, Gail and George Johnson, Geoff Lewis, Morie and Tim Smile; VOA volunteers


Event Coordinator: Michael James

Board of Directors: Bob Bardwell, Jr., chairman of the board; Kalleen Malone, immediate past chairman; Dianna L. Kunz, president & CEO; Kevin MacCary, vice-chairman; Faye Washington, secretary; Rick Bruno, treasurer. For a complete list of officers and members, please visit:

Steering Committee: David Alexander, Kay Burke, Jennifer Daurio, Christel Dikeman, Stephen Edmonds, Adrienne Ruston Fitzgibbons, Layne Fleishman, Kelly Ford, Sharon Whiton Gelt, Barbara Greene, Dianne Honig, Carol James, Gail Johnson, Maria Kunz, Edie Marks, Frances Owens, Gary Pettit, Michael Pollak, Lyn Schaffer, Sarah Sena, Remy Spreeuw, Susan Stiff, Tracy Ulmer, Faye Washington

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 Kalleen Malone, recipient of The Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award, with VOA's board president, Bob Bardwell, Jr.
Kalleen Malone, recipient of The Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award, with VOA's board president, Bob Bardwell, Jr.

With style and flair, Western Fantasy continually serves as an icon of Denver’s heritage, personality and philanthropic mindset…and always provides a doggone-good country-music concert for guests as well. Denver’s fall social calendar just wouldn’t be complete without it. In 2012, its 19th year, organizers added a touch of Hollywood glitz to the festivities with a “Stars Over the Rockies, Legends of the West” theme. What did it mean for those who attended? A dress code that allowed them to embrace the “fantasy” mindset and live out the personas of their favorite Old West movie and TV icons. On Saturday, Oct. 20, the pre-dinner reception at the National Western Events Center was full of spirit and images such as The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Marshal Dillion and Miss Kitty, plus Tom Mix and even Mae West.

This year, last-minute ticket-buyers learned the hard lesson that popular events sell out early, and made a "note to self" to be first in line in 2013. Meanwhile, around 1,100 ticketholders were treated to an evening beginning with a cocktail reception that featured crowd favorite Hyde Park Saloon, where each $100 shot glass carried a number corresponding to a specific, glittering jewelry piece. Instead of a dinner bell, a time-honored Western Fantasy tradition signaled the beginning of the evening’s program: the dramatic horse-and-rider stroll about the arena with Sharon Magness Blake atop her magnificent Denver Broncos mascot Thunder, with Ernie Blake walking by her side.

The sit-down dinner was made up of down-home favorites enhanced with elegance, creativity and flavor, the prelude to a live auction featuring sumptuous getaways as well as one-of-a-kind items. Event emcees Ed Greene and Lauren Whitney, of CBS4, kept the audience laughing with costume changes and repartee throughout the evening. Even Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock got in on the act at one point, sporting a Three Amigos sombrero and performing the hilarious salute to perfection.

Kalleen Malone was honored with this year’s Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award, in the form of an autographed Peyton Manning jersey for the Denver Broncos fan. Carol and Bryce McTavish received a similar reward for their hard work as co-chairs. A local actress portrayed the story of client Dixie with a soliliquay about her experiences as a Volunteers of America client, followed by the real Dixie appearing on stage to thank VOA and its supporters. Rick Rolph encouraged large bids during the lively live-auction segment that included trips to Super Bowl XLVII and the Emmy Awards. The crowd then gravitated close to the stage to get the best view of popular ACM award-winner Rodney Atkins, who rewarded them an energetic concert full of danceable, boot-scootin’ music.

Event co-founders Sharon Magness Blake and Jean Galloway designed the event so that a terrific country-western performance would cap an evening of elegant Western touches in a gala atmosphere. It has become the signature fundraiser for Volunteers of America Colorado Branch programs that include Head Start and The Brandon Center for homeless women and battered women and their children. One Western Fantasy tickets buys three months of hot, home-delivered food for VOA’s Meals on Wheels recipients.

VOA is a national nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, VOA has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including the frail, elderly, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, homeless individuals, and women and children escaping domestic violence. For more information, please visit:

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