David Haakenson | VailDaily.com

David Haakenson

Caramie Schnell

David Haakenson isn’t your typical dream-heeder. He’ll be the first to tell you that he usually doesn’t even remember his dreams, let alone give them any consideration.There’s only been one exception.A few years ago David dreamt about gold and, even after night had turned to day, the vivid dream stayed with him.”First of all for (David) to even remember that he had this dream was amazing,” says David’s wife, Pat Hamilton, “and then for him to actually start sharing it with people and acting on it, because he’s not a person to put himself out there, you can tell that it’s something that’s really important to him and close to his heart.”Years before, a friend of David’s, Stewart Eves, had approached a group of friends (David included) about a search for gold treasure supposedly hidden in the Philippine Islands by the Japanese occupiers during World War II. He was planning on investing and asked if any one else was interested. The idea of a treasure cache of hidden gold captured many of the friends’ imaginations and most of them invested at least a small amount of money.”We all made our share of jokes about the ‘treasure,’ but underneath all the laughs, there was always that hopeful little ‘what if?'” David says.David’s dream was about that same treasure he’d invested in along with friends. In the dream, the gold finally came in, but because it had been stolen by the Japanese years before, it was also tainted. As a result, he and his friends (and other investors) in the treasure hunt were instructed to contribute a portion of their share to a charitable foundation. The foundation was to be called, “Swift Eagle,” and its purpose would be to swiftly help those in need in Eagle County.”The dream said the money came in and here’s what we were supposed to do,” David says. “I got up that morning and went, wow, because I never even remember my dreams.”The other part of the story is that David’s long time friend, Phil Jackson (head coach of the LA Lakers), spent some of his summers on a Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota giving basketball clinics during the ’70s. The tribe gave Phil the name, you guessed it, of Swift Eagle.David told no one about his dream until about a year-and-a-half ago, when after being haunted by it, he decided to tell his group of friends and fellow investors about it, as well as Phil Jackson.”I told everyone the story and Kathy Dockery, she said, ‘let’s do it anyway. We buy each other all these stupid presents all the time, why don’t we just put the money in a foundation?'”The group agreed and decided that rather than buy birthday presents for each other in the future, they’d contribute money to the foundation. Jackson, a believer in the karma of dreams, agreed to be the figurehead and honorary chairman of the foundation.A dreamin’ manDavid grew up in North Dakota in a small town on the Montana border. He attended college at the University of North Dakota, graduating with a degree in education before heading to Vietnam, where he worked in the artillery unit.”I ended up in Vietnam and when I came home I had no intention of being a school teacher at that time, I just needed to spend a couple of years blowing off steam.”And so, David ended up in Vail. It was 1970, he was 24-years-old, and he originally came intending to spend just one winter in the mountains.He’s been here ever since.For the first few years David did what most newcomers to Vail do, at least the younger ones: he worked at the Vail Golf Course, bartended at the Bully III Ranch, “before it was the Bully III Ranch,” he says, and taught skiing.”After two or three years of that, I decided if I wanted to stay, I needed to do something a little more productive,” David says. “There were only about two teachers needed in this valley and so, no chance of getting a teaching job at that time.”Years before, David had worked for his uncle doing floor covering. He began doing installations and, because of the boom in the construction business, David always had work.In 1975 David met his future wife-to-be, Pat Hamilton. At the time she was working as a reporter for the Vail Trail.”We started being a little more serious and going out,” he remembers. “I kept seeing this guitar in her place, but she never mentioned anything. One night I asked her to sing me something. She sang me this song she had written and just blew me away.”David convinced Pat to begin singing at local restaurants and bars and she has been doing it ever since. Eventually Pat was hired to sing at the Cascade Club.In 1979 David and Pat decided that, with a baby on the way, their one-bedroom condo in West Vail was getting a little small. The two took a risk and bought some property that was considered far away in Lake Creek.”We couldn’t stay in a one-bedroom so we bought this property and thought, ‘how in the hell are we ever going to pay for this?’ We ended up building in ’83 and have been there ever since.”David started his own business, Hawkeye Services, in 1989. He worked mainly doing floor coverings but now does strictly window coverings.”I don’t do floor coverings anymore because it’s too hard of work, I’ve moved over into window coverings only. When Home Depot came in they contacted me about doing all of their window covering installations. I thought rather than fight them, I might as well join them.”The other big thing in David’s life now is his brainchild, Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation. For the past year the group has focused on setting up the foundation as a non-profit organization, appointing a board of six directors, and working on a web site (www.swifteagle.org). They are just now beginning to make small donations to local individuals and groups who have demonstrated need, including a young girl requiring emergency dental work, a 19-year-old who recently became a paraplegic while doing missionary work and a family suffering the loss of two children.The group sent out a mailing right before Thanksgiving and according to Pat, the response from the community has been phenomenal.”We’ve just gotten such an incredible response especially from a lot of people that David has known and from people in the valley it’s just touched a chord with everybody,” Pat says. “I think the part that particularly appeals to people is the part in the dream where we’re to act swiftly. The people that are donating the money feel a real direct connection that way.”For now, David is optimistic about the future of the foundation and its ability to make tangible differences in the lives of those in need.”I think we’re going to grow, I know we will,” Dave says. “It’s just kind of a slow process.” VTCaramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vailtrail.com.

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