Aspen Chapel to host interactive, game-show like fundraiser Monday

The poster for Monday's "Kundalini Raising" fundraiser for the Aspen Chapel.
Aspen Chapel/courtesy photo


The Aspen Chapel’s “Kundalini Raising” virtual fundraiser will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday on the chapel’s website and Facebook page. The event is free but participants are required to register. There is also an online silent auction with gift cards to various Aspen area businesses locals can bid on through the Aspen Chapel website. For more information, visit

What do you get when you cross a telethon with a game show?

On Monday, Aspen-area locals will be able to find out by tuning into the Aspen Chapel’s virtual “Kundalini Raising” event, a telethon-game show fusion and reimagined annual chapel fundraiser.

“As things have developed with COVID, all of us nonprofits have had to really rethink our game as to how we’re going to go forward because we really can’t have galas anymore or anything like that,” said Nicholas Vesey, Aspen Chapel minister and host of the upcoming event.

“We’re all challenged with how best to do it, and when you think of raising money, this whole idea of a game show just seemed like a nice way of doing it where people could join in.”

In a phone interview with The Aspen Times on Wednesday, Vesey said he never thought he’d end up being a televangelist nor a game show host, but that he felt a unique and interactive virtual fundraiser would be a good way to hold people’s attention and talk about things that on their own might sound boring.

“I just kept thinking, ‘If I was an audience, what would I want to watch?’” Vesey said. “It seemed to me that me dressed up in a bright red velvet jacket with sparkly things down the sides and the whole atmosphere of music and fun was like ‘yeah, that’s something I’d want to watch.’ … We want to entertain people as well as invite them to give money, so it’s going to be a show more than anything else.”

How the fundraiser will work is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday via Zoom, locals will be asked to bid live on which popular local musician they’d like to hear from most: Mack Bailey, Scott MacCracken, Susan Nicholson, Dan Sheridan, Ellen Stapenhorst and Jessica Vesey. They’ll also be able to enter in a bidding war on whether they’d like to hear Vesey sing or not.

This year’s fundraising goal is $50,000, and the progress toward that goal will be visible live during the event using a special Kundalini “chakra-meter,” Vesey said.

On top of bidding on their favorite musicians, “Kundalini Raising” participants will be able to see live art created by Amy Beidleman and Michael Bonds, which they will be able to bid on. There will also be a small in-person audience at the event, interactive chats with the chapel’s various program directors and a special guest appearance, Vesey said.

But beyond the new flair and format of the annual chapel fundraiser, Vesey also said this year’s event isn’t just dedicated to benefiting the chapel and its programming; it’s also a show of community support and boost to the local economy.

Vesey explained that with the chapel’s silent auction, instead of asking local businesses to donate products and services as in years past, the Aspen Chapel instead asked community members to purchase gift cards from area merchants and then donate them as bid items for the silent auction. The community donation effort was dubbed the “Pay It Forward” campaign and has been running all summer.

Through the campaign, locals donated more than 80 gift cards to the silent auction, amounting to nearly $13,000 and supporting businesses from Mezzaluna and Mawa’s Kitchen to the Aspen Animal Shelter and Midland Clothing Company.

“When we were thinking towards this we thought, ‘In what way can we support ourselves as well as the town?’” Vesey said. “Through this year’s silent auction, we’ll get the money from what’s being bid for, but the shops and the restaurants get money too because their gift cards have been bought.”

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Vesey said the Aspen Chapel would typically have about 100 people show up in-person to Sunday services and maybe 100 people tune in to the online livestream. But since the pandemic started, Vesey said there have been around 300 people consistently tuning into the Sunday virtual services, an increase he feels is due to people’s increased interest in finding comfort, a sense of meaning and perspective during the global crisis.

“I think people are craving wisdom and understanding to live their lives within a difficult situation in a productive way,” Vesey said.

Despite the success of the chapel’s online services, Vesey feels that there is also a desire for people to come together and be around each other, too. So as part of the “Kundalini Raising” event, Vesey also will share the results of a community survey asking locals whether they’re comfortable with returning to in-person, socially distanced services at the Aspen Chapel — which staff are dedicated to bringing back as carefully as possible when they do.

Overall, Vesey said the Monday virtual fundraiser aims to offer a lot of fun, creativity and entertainment to the Aspen-area community, and hopes locals will take the time to join in.

“Everybody is welcome to watch,” Vesey said. “It will be fun so we just encourage people to come enjoy themselves.”


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