Sheriff’s Cup tournament and fundraiser is back in support of mental health relief |

Sheriff’s Cup tournament and fundraiser is back in support of mental health relief

The tournament is Sunday, June 27, at Aspen Golf Club

From left, former cyclist George Hincapie, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and former cyclist Lance Armstrong pose for a photo during a past Sheriff's Cup event at Aspen Golf Club. The tournament and fundraiser is back for the fifth time, which this year is raising money for COVID-19 mental health relief.
Courtesy photo

As a town so dependent on the restaurant industry, the coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly difficult on those workers with few, if any, steady paychecks to be had. So with the Sheriff’s Cup set to return this summer and looking for a new group to raise funds for, Joe DiSalvo saw an opportunity with Aspen’s working class.

“Whether you lived in New Castle or New Delhi, you were affected by COVID,” DiSalvo said. “The financial pressure put on people, the worry about getting sick, when is the vaccination coming, all that stuff I think put a lot of mental strain on people. So a lot of this money is going to go to mental health relief for a lot of locals and restaurant workers and people who need it.”

DiSalvo, the longtime Pitkin County sheriff, started the Sheriff’s Cup in 2016, and it has evolved into one of the larger charity events of the summer in the Roaring Fork Valley. The first two years the event raised money for the Aspen Hope Center and suicide prevention, bringing in more than $200,000.

In 2018 and 2019, the Sheriff’s Cup raised more than $300,000 for Huts for Vets, which offered to let another entity benefit in the fifth tournament this year, after the 2020 event was canceled because of the pandemic.

“They said, ‘You know, we are pretty well sustained if you have something else,’ and that was awfully gracious of them,” DiSalvo said of Huts for Vets. “I understand people need money to pay their bills, but there is also … a lot of stress from COVID. A lot of brains that are aching. So a lot of this money is going to go to … we should start calling it not mental health, but mental fitness.”

DiSalvo and the Sheriff’s Cup are working with the Aspen Community Foundation, which connects donors with those in need of the funds, for this coming weekend’s event. ACF will take whatever money is raised and through its own vetting process get financial help to those who most need it, with an emphasis on the money paying for mental health counseling, or related, sessions.

“We are really focusing on the mental health fund for COVID relief, which is in real need,” DiSalvo said. “This will probably be a one-year thing, and then next year we will be ready to take on a new challenge.”

The Sheriff’s Cup kicks off Saturday with a party hosted by The Little Nell and LIFT Vodka at the home of former cyclist Lance Armstrong, a part-time Aspen resident and close friend of DiSalvo’s. The event often brings in other A-list names, such as seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, another part-time Aspenite and DiSalvo confidant.

The golf tournament, generously hosted for free by Aspen Golf Club, is Sunday. DiSalvo said the tournament is already at capacity with 24 teams, but hopes people will still donate. They are already halfway to DiSalvo’s goal of raising $100,000 for the area’s restaurant workers.

“Every year it’s a good time,” DiSalvo said. “I just encourage everyone to donate. These people work hard for us every year, every day, serving us food and keeping us happy and keeping our visitors happy. I really think it’s time to recognize them and their financial and mental fitness needs.”

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