Vail Valley’s Gather ’Round Week raises $28,000 to aid families of avalanche victims
The funds will be split equally between the families
Like so many things in life, Gather ‘Round Week started with a simple idea that became more complicated. It was also a big success.
The week started as a way to honor and help the families of the three Eagle residents — Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer — killed in an early-February avalanche near Silverton. As of early this week, with donations still trickling in, the effort had raised about $28,000.
Jessen was the founder of Bonfire Brewing in Eagle, which over the course of several years had become a downvalley institution and a familiar label in coolers and on taps throughout the valley.
In the wake of the news about the avalanche, Cameron Douglas, owner of Montauk and El Segundo in Vail, had an idea: Local bars and restaurants should honor and help the families of the avalanche victims by donating proceeds from beer sales, using Bonfire’s motto of “Gather ‘Round.”
It took a couple of weeks to organize the effort — from ensuring there’d be enough beer to nailing down just who was doing what in terms of donations.
Different ways to donate
Some restaurants donated the full proceeds of their Bonfire sales, while others provided cash donations. Other businesses donated an amount from every beer sold.
At the Northside Kitchen and Benderz restaurants in Avon, owner Jim Pavelich decided to donate $1 from every beer sold, no matter what brand.
“If you wanted a tasteless big-city beer, you could still donate,” Pavelich said.
“It’s a good cause; I was happy to do it,” he added.
Douglas said Gather ‘Round week has been stretched out at some businesses, with a “couple” of places extending their donation period through this month.
No matter who did what, “everyone was overly generous,” Douglas said. “There was just an outpouring of the restaurant community … And what better way than drinking beer to support this?”
Los Amigos and Russell’s in Vail stretched their Gather ‘Round Week to two weeks. Those restaurants sold a lot of beer — and raised a lot of money.
Beer — and cash
Drew Riley, who runs Los Amigos and Russell’s, said the outdoor bar at Los Amigos was a big contributor to the effort. That outdoor bar some weeks accounts for a large portion of the sales from both restaurants.
Russell’s doesn’t stock Bonfire. But, Riley said, that restaurant put up signs about the effort, and servers told customers about it. That resulted in more than $1,200 in cash donations.
Riley said a number of cash donations came at Los Amigos, even as people were sipping on their Bonfire brews.
Riley said he didn’t know any of the men caught in the slide near Silverton. But he grew up in Vail, and has had friends and acquaintances die in the backcountry. He was impressed with the level of community support for Bossung, Jessen and Palmer.
“I was super excited to participate,” Riley said, adding that he wants the family businesses to give back to the community as much as possible.
“No one’s really done this before,” Riley said of the Gather ‘Round effort, adding that the organizers, particularly Douglas, did remarkable work.
“Hats off to (Douglas) for putting everything together,” Riley said. “For someone to do that who’s running two restaurants … I’m just so moved by this.”
Pavelich said Gather ‘Round Week is “Just a nice gesture of people coming together after an awful event… It’s a big enough small town that everybody can make a little difference.”
Douglas said Gather ‘Round Week was “absolutely” a big success.
“It did exactly what I wanted it to do — show support for those guys,” he said.