Sheriff’s Cup golf tournament returns, this time in benefit of Huts for Vets | AspenTimes.com

Sheriff’s Cup golf tournament returns, this time in benefit of Huts for Vets

Joe DiSalvo

What started off as "really a stupid tournament" for a group of local golfers has turned into one of the largest charity events on the links. In its third year, the Sheriff's Cup returns Sunday, June 24, at Aspen Golf Club, this year in benefit of Huts for Vets.

"I've always had a fondness for veterans because they do what I wouldn't or couldn't do," Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said. "I'm not exactly cut out to be a soldier, so I admire what they've done for all of us."

The now annual fundraiser includes a drop-in yoga class with Amanda Dykann and a 5K run/walk around the golf course. The tournament has benefited the Aspen Hope Center the past few years, but DiSalvo decided to shake it up and get Huts for Vets involved this summer. Ideally, he'd find a new nonprofit to raise money for each year.

"It was super generous of him, and considerate and revealing of his concern for veterans," said Paul Andersen, the executive director and founder of Huts for Vets. "It's not only raising funds for our program, but it's recognizing veterans as a community that's really important."

The Aspen-based nonprofit was founded in 2013 to provide therapeutic healing for U.S. veterans and active-duty service members through wilderness experiences involving the 10th Mountain Division huts. Around the time of its launch, Pitkin County donated one of its recently-retired sheriff's vehicles to the organization to help transport veterans into the backcountry, and since then DiSalvo has become increasingly more involved in what they do.

"It's more than a walk in the woods. We have intellectual and philosophical content and context to the program," Andersen said. "It's about $1,000 a veteran average to bring them here. We pay all their expenses, including travel, and they can come from anywhere in the country. We believe veterans have already paid with their service and shouldn't have to pay for a healing opportunity that can be offered on our beautiful public lands here."

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DiSalvo's goal is to raise $100,000 for Huts for Vets, which would pay for about 1,000 veterans to take part in its programming. As of last week, they had already raised about $80,000 through the Sheriff’s Cup.

"We are really grateful to the community because a lot of veterans feel isolated from their communities. That's one of the highest causes of the 20 to 22 suicides per day among U.S. veterans," Andersen said. "If we can show veterans that Aspen is a community that cares, then we have bridged a gap that needs to be bridged everywhere in this country where there is a veteran population."

The drop-in yoga class begins at 8:15 a.m. Sunday on the 18th hole, while the 5K gets going at 9:15 a.m. Veterans and law enforcement can run for free, otherwise it's a $25 donation to take part. Yoga also is $25, and includes a free gift. The golf tournament starts at noon and costs $1,000 per four-person team. DiSalvo asks everyone taking part to wear red, white and blue in support of the veterans.

"We have a lot of very generous people who are donating their time and product and money to us," DiSalvo said. "These vets do more for us than any of us really realize. When you see these men and women come back, some are not whole. What is missing is what they gave to us. They gave a part of themselves."

For more information on the program and to register for the 5K or the golf tournament, go to hutsforvets.org.

acolbert@aspentimes.com