Celebrating — and supporting — movement
Bridging Bionics Foundation’s RISE UP GALA raised at least half of its annual operating budget Sunday
Bridging Bionics Foundation’s RISE UP GALA Sunday night at the Hotel Jerome was heartwarming, energizing and completely memorable.
I attended the gala solo, not knowing anyone in the room, because my companion couldn’t make it. Normally, this would be daunting, but as soon as I walked into the lounge, a table of attendees from Oregon befriended me; Anna, Marci and Bill Gaynor play in Aspen Meadow Band, which performs at fundraisers for organizations like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Special Olympics and Relay for Life. I chalk up the overall open heartedness at the gala to why we all came: Because we strongly believe in, and have a soft spot, for BBF’s mission to provide affordable and ongoing physical therapy and advanced technology to individuals with neurological mobility challenges, no matter their ability to pay or not. I risked becoming a wallflower (but was pleasantly met with lively conversation and inclusive groovin’ on the dancefloor) because I cherish movement; as someone who has a master’s degree in dance therapy and somatic psychology, I’ve both witnessed and experienced its healing power.
Sunday’s gala was BBF’s way of visibly demonstrating its impact to the larger community, as well as raising more than half of its annual operating budget.
“It was our most successful event since the inception of our organization six and a half years ago. For that, we are immensely grateful,” said BBF executive director Amanda Boxtel. “With these funds, we will continue giving the gift of mobility to serve our community with our life-changing programming.”
Final numbers aren’t in yet, but three donors committed to paying $50,000 each, another donated $25,000, and several patrons gave amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000. In addition, the live auction earned $70,000 for two separate private dinners with Jimmy Yeager and Tiziano Gortan, and other auction items went for generous amounts.
“While our physical therapy interventions and growing inventory of advanced technologies are helping our athletes regain mobility and wellness, one challenge remains the same: keeping our program accessible and affordable for all,” Boxtel said. “With increased client demand for our program — we have a waitlist — now more than ever, we needed to rally our supporters and publicly share our mission to continue serving our community with our quality programming. I am truly humbled by the genuine outpouring of love and generosity from the attendees at our 2022 RISE UP GALA.”
Despite a few cancellations from key supporters, including its presenting sponsor who tested positive for COVID the day prior to the gala, BBF’s first signature, in-person event since 2019 was successful on all fronts. Patrons and sponsors — 192 total — enjoyed a cocktail hour sponsored by Dona Vega Mezcal and Woody Creek Distillers; a scrumptious dinner including potato gnocchi, honey and sage brined Guinea hen and dessert; two performances by “Let’s Dance” professional dancer Jasmine Takács and Paralympian Aron Anderson; and incredibly danceable music by Tunisia.
As emcee John Sarpa said, “It’s real magic tonight.”
Indeed, it was an evening of celebrating and supporting the body in motion.
“With my new mobility limitations since undergoing four spinal surgeries in 10 weeks, I sat and wept in awe watching Jasmine and Aron move effortlessly,” Boxtel said. “I witnessed the power of their bodies spin gracefully in space, uninhibited and in such unison, as if they were entwined in harmony from the same mould. My heart was full. I became ‘them,’ and, for a moment, I forgot about my own physical limitations. The spirit has no limitations, and that’s what I hold true.”
Six and half years ago, Amanda Boxtel launched Bridging Bionics Foundation. Since then, it has:
- Gifted more than 12,000 physical therapy sessions to clients, ages 3-90, with neurological conditions.
- Served an average of up to 50 clients per week, each with 2-3 weekly mobility sessions.
- Increased its clinical staff operating out of two facilities in Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs, five days a week, year-round.
- Increased its advanced technologies and equipment inventory.
- Documented that 80% of clients reported improved physical health, and 90% of clients reported improved emotional health.
The annual Sardy House Christmas tree lighting was held on a snowy Sunday, Dec. 3. Locals and visitors alike drank hot chocolate and ate cookies as they awaited the holiday tradition.