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Mission mired in snow

Everything's coming up roses for Vail Christian's Caylin Engle and Steve Reid.
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A group of local students and teachers went to Denver to help. They ended up needing help themselves.

The entire student body and most of the faculty from Vail Christian High School in Edwards last week headed to Denver for a “mission trip” to assist various urban food banks and shelters.

Instead, much of the trip was spent shoveling and killing time in a gym, inventing games and trying to guess when Interstate 70 would re-open.

Eagle resident Mike McGee accompanied the students to Denver as an adult chaperone. When the group arrived in Denver on Monday, March 17, the groups fanned out to previously-arranged assignments, including ministry work with homeless teenagers.

Then the snow came. “It snowed for 40 hours straight,” McGee noted. “Denver just wasn’t equipped to handle it.”

McGee added that “Snow was the great equalizer. We went down to help and then we couldn’t.”

Officials shut down I-70 the afternoon of March 18, which left the kids stranded at the Redeemer Lutheran School, not too far from downtown Denver.

“We were in a high school gym with no showers and just two bathrooms,” McGee recalled. “But we were warm, dry, and we had light, food and heat.”

To pass the time, the kids played volleyball and basketball, and invented sports involving pillows, blankets and other items they had available. Then the Iraqi war started, with the TV bringing images from dusty Baghdad to snowy Denver.

“The kids were awesome,” said VCHS teacher Dave Sharp. “They really made the trip (worthwhile) for us.”

McGee noted, “The kids were really open about their feelings. It was real interesting to watch.”

By the time Friday rolled around, though, everyone was ready to get home.

Sharp noted that the group was packing up to leave Denver before the highway was even officially open. “It was getting frustrating,” he said. “It was a long week.”


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