Copper Mountain Resort hosts event to honor crash survivor Dave Respher
In honor of Dave Repsher, the seriously injured Flight For Life paramedic, the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation is hosting a pond hockey tournament and evening fundraiser at Copper Mountain Resort, Friday, Jan. 8 through Sunday, Jan. 10.
Repsher was hurt when the Flight For Life helicopter crashed in Frisco on July 3 and remains in critical condition at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora after suffering burns to more than 90 percent of his body. Before his injury, he was also a member of Copper Mountain’s Ski Patrol after competing on the University of New Mexico ski club while in college, as well as a local adult recreational hockey player.
To help offset some of the substantial medical bills, Littleton, Colorado-based nonprofit Dawg Nation partnered with Copper Mountain to dedicate one of its four annual events to Dave and his wife Amanda, who is a nurse at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
“To me, there’s no better feeling than to help someone in need. That’s what it’s all about,” said Martin Richardson, president of the charitable organization, noting Copper Mountain was a natural fit for location because of Repsher’s ties to the area. “When you see someone in distress, you do something to help them out and it’s a pretty powerful feeling.”
When Richardson founded Dawg Nation in January 2011 after several years playing on a rec team called The Dawgs, it was in remembrance of a teammate who died in April 2010 of an autoimmune disease. Three other teammates were fighting cancer at that time, and another broke his leg so seriously that it nearly had to be amputated.
Five short years later, Dawg Nation has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars and helped 39 members of the adult hockey community across the state with various illnesses. With the event this weekend, where those three cancer survivors will also play, Repsher will make No. 40.
“When this happened, I saw it on the news,” said Richardson of the tragic crash. “I didn’t know Dave before this. I didn’t know he was a hockey player.”
After a conversation with former Colorado Avalanche player Pierre Turgeon, Richardson visited the Repshers at the hospital and provided a $5,000 check from Dawg Nation, in addition to $500 in gift cards to buy odds and ends, like groceries. Still, they wanted to do more.
Over coffee with an event employee at Copper, a plan was finalized for the tournament, which features retired NHL players Milan Hejduk (Avalanche) and Derek Armstrong (Los Angles Kings) and former University of Denver standout Aaron MacKenzie, with the resort donating use of its facilities. Through team entry fees, sponsorships, in addition to a silent auction, Dawg Nation is hoping to present a check to Dave’s mother Marilyn for approximately $40,000, perhaps even more.
“It’s not out of the question at all,” said Richardson.
Attending the 4-on-4, pond hockey-style tournament as a spectator on any of the three days is free of charge, as is joining in on the festivities at the Copper Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 9, starting at 7:30 p.m. There, guests will enjoy free appetizers and a cash bar, as well as have the chance to bid on one of 12 auction items. Among them, there’s suite tickets to an Avalanche game with Hejduk, a 6-foot-tall sculpture valued at $10,000 donated by Repsher’s artist friend Delos Van Earl and a package consisting of Copper lift tickets and Lib Tech skis.
“People will get cool stuff,” said Richardson, “but just know that that entire check is going to Dave and Amanda. It’s not about (hockey); it’s about helping Dave and Amanda.”
Also planned for the evening is the singing of the national anthem by a special guest and music by Denver-based rock band Jake-Leg Shakers, all emceed by former Colorado Rockies radio host Jeff Kingery. The evening will conclude with the check presentation and a tribute video to Dave.
“We make tough guys cry,” Richardson said of Dawg Nation’s unofficial tagline. “And that happens every time. ‘Play Hard. Play Fair. Give Back.’”
Aside from the weekend event, Dawg Nation’s first pond hockey tournament, the charity hosts a yearly March comedy club night in Denver, the largest adult hockey tournament in the Rocky Mountain region, called the Dawg Bowl, in Littleton in June, and a September golf tournament at Red Rocks Country Club. The organization has also in the past organized a January bubble hockey tournament, but Repsher fundraiser will take its place this year.
To learn more about this weekend’s event at Copper Mountain, or to make a general donation to Dawg Nation or directly to the Repsher family, visit the charitable nonprofit’s website: http://www.dawgnationhockey.org.