The million dollar man of Roundup River Ranch |

The million dollar man of Roundup River Ranch

About Roundup River Ranch

Roundup River Ranch is a member of SeriousFun Children’s Network, a global community of camps and programs that provide life-changing support to children with serious illnesses and their families. The network was founded by Paul Newman.

Roundup River Ranch is located north of Dotsero along the Colorado River.

For more information about Roundup River Ranch, visit or call 970-748-9983.

EAGLE COUNTY — T. Denny Sanford is Roundup River Ranch’s million dollar man.

The South Dakota philanthropist is donating another $1 million to Roundup River Ranch, a camp for kids with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Sanford has a long history of support for the camp. He served as the organization’s lead donor in its initial $20 million capital campaign to construct camp facilities. He gave a $7 million gift to Roundup River Ranch that helped get the camp off the ground — $4 million as a direct donation and $3 million as a matching grant.

“With this gift, I intend to help secure the organization’s future, providing funds to support Roundup River Ranch’s efforts to increase the number of campers and families served,” Sanford said.

He said Roundup River Ranch changes the campers’ lives and called it an “oasis.”

“When they leave, they’re stronger and happier,” Sanford said. “When I heard that a camper said his time at Roundup River Ranch was ‘the best week of his life,’ that it was the place he longed to be when he sat through hours of treatment and hospital stays, I knew that I needed to help.”

Sanford’s new $1 million gift will help Roundup River Ranch grow. The gift will be received in $100,000 payments over the next 10 years, said Ruth B. Johnson, president and CEO of Roundup River Ranch.

Sanford’s lifetime charitable giving now exceeds $1 billion — $700 million in the past four years.

“Denny’s belief in the impact of camp in the lives of children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses is remarkable,” Johnson said. “In the capital campaign, he helped us build our foundation. With his most recent gift, he is providing for our future.”

Sanford said his gift was inspired by the children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses who attend the camp.

His primary giving is aimed at helping sick, disadvantaged, abused and/or neglected children.

About T. Denny Sanford

Sanford is a self-made man. He was born in St. Paul, Minn., on Dec. 23, 1935, and developed an early work ethic during his summers working in his father’s clothing distribution company. His mother died of breast cancer when he was 4; and his father died of heart disease at a young age.

He attended St. Paul Central High School and graduated the University of Minnesota in 1958 with a degree in psychology. He was recruited by Armstrong Cork Co. as a sales and marketing manager. In 1960, he left Armstrong and formed a manufacturer’s representative company, promoting technical construction products.

He formed a distribution company and, in 1971, acquired Contech, a 50-year-old chemical company from Sears, Roebuck. In 1972, he took Contech public at $5 a share. Ten years later, he sold Contech for $35 a share.

He formed Threshold Ventures, a venture capital company, and in 1986, he purchased United National Bank in Sioux Falls, S.D., now First Premier Bank. He built it and a newly formed credit card company, Premier Bankcard, from 80 employees to more than 3,000 employees.

In 2002, Sanford co-founded First Premier Capital in Minneapolis, engaged in the business of commercial equipment leasing. He remains active in Threshold Ventures and the financial institutions today.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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