Eagle River Youth Coalition November spotlight: Eagle Valley grad Gerry Lopez | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Youth Coalition November spotlight: Eagle Valley grad Gerry Lopez

Mikayla Curtis
Special to the Daily

Gerry Lopez

"It's my first race and a big one — pre-state cross-country. The clock is ticking, the stakes are high, my lungs are gasping, and I can feel the finish line. One more mile to go, and bam, I trip and fall into the creek. I think to myself, this is where it ends; I'm not going to run anymore. I didn't even think I could qualify for this until coach put me in. But then I think of my name on the board, and the thought of seeing DNF (did not finish) next to it makes me get up, keep going and finish the race."

When recent Eagle Valley High School graduate and current Colorado Mountain College student Gerardo "Gerry" Lopez told me this story, we were talking about tenacity, resiliency and the difference he wants to make in this community.

Gerry told me that this story is an example of the message he wants to instill in young people in our community — keep pushing yourself to make the best outcome possible; keep going because once you reach that destination, you can't emulate that feeling. Gerry went on to be a Western Slope All Conference runner, a state qualifier and a regional runner for the Eagle Valley cross-country team.

The Eagle River Youth Coalition is excited to share that Gerry has joined our team as the new youth advisor and office assistant. In this role, Gerry will to continue his efforts in helping youth gain new perspectives and build connections; he will offer insights on various programs and projects, help identify protective and risk factors for local youth and families and support conversations that help improve the lives of youth in our community.

Gerry is also excited to share his perspectives from the Latino community and help find ways to create stronger integration between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities. He is encouraged to break down stereotypes of the Latino community and help his community recognize how to take advantage of opportunities, seek leadership roles, become role models and commit to working for a larger cause.

Growing up here, Gerry has been involved with track, cross-country, COPA Soccer, AVID and served as an AVID tutor at Eagle Valley. Gerry has been a natural leader and motivator since he was 11, when he started a bike club in his neighborhood. Gerry believes it's important to make everyone feel wanted.

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After graduating from CMC, he has aspirations to transfer to another degree program and live in a fast-paced, large city. While he is here, though, he implores all of us to dig for opportunities.

"Don't settle where you are now. To make a difference in this community, you have to have the resiliency and the tenacity to pick yourself back up and move forward. You may not be making a difference now but the progress toward the goal is making a difference," he said.

Mikayla Curtis is the manager of strategic impact at the Eagle River Youth Coalition. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit eagleyouth.org.