Sheriff’s upcoming golf tourney to benefit vets
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo wants to raise enough money at his annual golf tournament this year to help 150 veterans heal from the trauma of war in the Colorado wilderness.
“We’ve got to do something to help these men and women with (post-traumatic stress disorder),” DiSalvo said. “There’s not enough help for these people.”
To that end, DiSalvo chose the local nonprofit Huts for Vets as the recipient of the funds raised for the annual Sheriff’s Cup Golf Tournament, which will be held June 23 at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club. The organization uses the 10th Mountain Division Hut system to take veterans into the backcountry and use wilderness therapy to help them adjust to a healthy civilian life.
Veterans are not charged anything for participating in the program, which costs about $1,000 per person, DiSalvo said. So far, the sheriff has already raised about $100,000 after soliciting donations from Aspen luminaries and hopes to take in another $50,000 through the tournament.
Huts for Vets was established in 2013 and takes veterans on gender-specific hut trips every summer, said Paul Andersen, the nonprofit’s founder. This summer, the organization will take 70 to 80 veterans on seven different hut trips, which provide a soothing, nurturing environment for those who suffered combat trauma, he said.
“It’s a return home, if you will, for human beings to be in wild places,” Andersen said. “A connection to nature is missing in our lives.”
The proceeds raised this year and last year by DiSalvo’s golf tournament will help Huts for Vets expand and make a more meaningful contribution to healing the veteran population, he said.
“It’s helping us enormously,” Andersen said. “It’s giving us a financial buffer to grow our program.”
So far, Huts for Vets has helped 137 veterans, according to its website. If DiSalvo is successful, the money raised could more than double that number, Andersen said.
DiSalvo cited the veteran suicide rate — generally thought to be around 20 per day — and said the numbers are rising.
“Emotional wounds are 10 times worse than physical wounds,” he said.
This year’s tournament will skip last year’s 5K run and yoga class in favor of two golf-based activities, DiSalvo said.
The first is a par-3, nine-hole tournament for families, children and golfers of all levels, which starts at 9 a.m. The 18-hole tournament starts at 12:30 p.m., where each foursome will cost $1,000. Prizes will be available on various holes, and each golfer who registers for the 18-hole tournament will receive a free putter courtesy of PXG Golf Clubs, the event’s sponsor.
PXG owner Bob Parsons, who contributed more than $60,000 in addition to the putters, is a Vietnam veteran, DiSalvo said.
“He’s a great guy,” the sheriff said. “It’s amazing to get some real energy behind this.”
To register for the tournament or to donate to Huts for Vets, go to sheriffscup.com or hutsforvets.org.