Vail Daily column: Size of a valley’s heart | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Size of a valley’s heart

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

It felt like the whole community showed up last Friday night at the Eagle Ranch Pavilion.

Upvalley, downvalley, teens, millennials, elders, newcomers, folks here since before the ski hills. People I hadn’t seen in years, people I’d seen yesterday, plenty I’d never met, at least not that I remember. They crossed ethnic and demographic lines, though this was a decidedly local rather than second-home affair.

They stood in line to get in, and the crowd spilled out to the grounds. As many people as I’ve seen around here in the same place at the same time for the same reason.

We do a good job of rallying behind locals in need. Especially for kids. But this one stood out even from what I don’t want to call “usual,” which suggests a jadedness I don’t think exists. But it did stand out among these special events for me.

I don’t think this was just because I got to hand out drink tickets at the door, either. Everyone smiles at you then.

Nor that it was well planned, advertised and executed. Nor the music floating in the air on a perfect late summer evening. None of that hurt, of course.

People clearly enjoyed seeing each other and getting together. There was a reunion quality to the gathering, eclectic as it was.

The one thing in common to everyone lay in their hearts for the Forsberg family, and Kailyn, 15, fighting back from horrendous injuries during a national free-skiing competition last spring. The worst was to the spinal cord, and paralysis below the chest. Even with insurance, their costs will run through the roof, into seven figures, I understand.

Her dad, Mitch, is a longtime educator, and as principal of Gypsum Elementary since I think my kids were still in school, he’s well known and highly enough regarded to have earned Colorado Principal of the Year honors, too.

No surprise, then, that the staff at Gypsum Elementary took on planning this event, along with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. I know the latter to be expert at fundraisers, with the practice they get and from being on their board to see their work up close.

Mitch taught my son math in middle school way back when. My son’s wife’s mom is a counselor on his staff. My wife knows him from having his school among her group as a district nurse downvalley for a decade.

Chances are you know him, Kailyn, or her mother in one way or another through this web of connections that adds up to community, which then comes together when one of its own encounters need like this.

It’s very cool when circumstances work out like they did last Friday and Kailyn, who told reporter Randy Wyrick “I thought we’d have a couple of people from Eagle and Gypsum, not the whole town,” could be surprised by the turnout.

But even the “usual” never fails to touch everyone concerned. Don’t let anyone tell you this resort playground isn’t also a community. One with a pretty big heart, too.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.