Benefit honors two Thomasville brothers, firefighters |

Benefit honors two Thomasville brothers, firefighters

THOMASVILLE, Colo. ” An annual fundraiser in the memory of slain Thomasville firefighter Vince Thomas will take on extra, unfortunate significance Sunday.

This year’s event also will honor Vince’s brother, Alan, who died in August from a heart attack. The Thomas brothers were both members of the Basalt fire district’s Thomasville satellite at the times of their deaths. Vince died at the age of 40, and Alan at 47.

A poker run and chili dinner began in 1999 to raise funds for the Thomasville firehouse. Half the funds have been donated to the Vincent Paul Thomas EMT Memorial Fund since 2002.

Vince was murdered on Oct. 25, 2001, at his residence in the upper Fryingpan Valley. He was hit by three shotgun blasts fired by a man who was enraged that his girlfriend was seeking refuge at Thomas’ house. Andrew Kachik was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting.

Alan Thomas joined the fire department a few years after his brother’s death. He volunteered to help organize the annual poker run that honors his brother.

Alan died unexpectedly Aug. 12, despite no history of heart problems. He is survived by his wife, Rachel, and their daughters Amber, 22; and Sidney, 18.

As part of dealing with the tragedy, Rachel was inspired to join the fire department about two months ago. The firehouse is the core of the small community of about 100 people, she explained. It’s not only the headquarters for emergency responders, it also hosts many community events. Thomasville is east of Basalt, above Ruedi Reservoir in the Fryingpan Valley.

Many of the fire department volunteers, who also are Thomas’ neighbors, have gone out of their way to help her family since Alan’s death, Rachel said. She feels a connection with them.

“I’m giving back to the community,” she said.

As part of her duties with the fire department, Thomas is helping organize the poker run and chili dinner this year. She’s taking over for her husband by running the event that honors her brother-in-law. Sidney said she looks forward to helping run the event that meant a lot to her dad.

The poker run features five stations where snowmobile riders draw one card each. One of those stations, in Lime Park, will be named in Alan’s memory. “That was his spot,” Rachel said. “This is a little part for him.”

The Thomas brothers didn’t grow up in the Fryingpan Valley, but they fell in love with the area at an early age. Their grandparents owned a cabin there, so the boys spent a good deal of their childhood in the area.

The poker run will continue to honor Vince Thomas. Rachel said her brother-in-law “put all his spare time into the fire department.” The EMT Memorial Fund in Vince’s name provides scholarships for emergency medical technician training. It’s open to any person in any department.

Registration for participating snowmobiles is at Elk Wallow Campground from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. The checkpoints close at 12:30 p.m. and poker hands must be turned in at the fire station by 3:30 p.m.

The cost is $20 per adult and $15 per child between ages 10 and 14. The fee includes the chili dinner as well as one poker hand. More than one hand can be purchased.

Participants don’t have to ride in the event to purchase a poker hand. The chili dinner, organized by wives of Thomasville firefighters, will be from 2-4 p.m. at the Thomasville Fire Station.

For more information, call John Vasten at 927-1246.

The event is getting larger every year, Thomas said. About 100 people bought poker hands last year and 77 sleds made the run.

Rachel said she looks forward to helping organize the event. “This is something good to keep my mind focused,” she said.

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