Gallagher Jr: My first annual BOLD awards |

Gallagher Jr: My first annual BOLD awards

R.J. Gallagher Jr.

“Fortuna audaces iuvat.” — Latin proverb, translated as “Fortune favors the bold.”

The end is near on another year. Another year where the heroes amongst us have risen, once again, to answer the call of service by giving back and making that difference for so many.

My feeling is that those who engage and embrace service as a part of their daily lives are in fact the heroes next door. They each make bold statements by their actions and commitments. Without what they do and how they do it, our little slice of paradise would not be the magical place it is to call home. Or visit, for that matter. Because, even here in wonderland, we experience all the challenges that the everyday throws our way. Everyday.

I think it is fitting to wrap up my column this year by giving a shout-out to some of the wonderful people that I have had the profound opportunity to spend time with as part of my circle of friends. Every single one of these special people deserve to be recognized for what they do and how they do it. There are dozens more that deserve a “hell yeah,” and I know I am overlooking many, so please, everyone, keep on keeping on.

Here we go. I want to start with The Aspen Times. This might feel kind of like a homer thing, but please bear with me, I think it has merit. Over five years ago, I reached out to Rick Carroll with an idea for a column. A column about philanthropy and community involvement. Without hesitation, Rick said he liked the idea and agreed to give it a try. And here we are, five years later and still typing. Thanks, Rick. I also want to recognize the professional young guns of The Aspen Times, Publisher Samantha Johnston and Editor Lauren Glendenning. When I started this column I became acutely aware of the coverage and awareness, or lack thereof, that our local media provided for the good of the cause. Under the watch of Samantha and Lauren, I have seen the ink explode at The Aspen Times with its exposure and promotional support of important causes in our valley. Quite possibly, many overlook such a commitment by a media outlet. I haven’t. Thanks to every one of the professionals that represent the new generation at The Aspen Times.

To Michael Fox, owner and CEO of the Aspen Club. Basically, the Aspen Club acts as a crossroads for both residents and visitors of Aspen. Their support of the community is a decadeslong friendship. Can’t wait until the new Aspen Club opens. Live well. Beyond.

Action in Africa. What can I say about Sarah Nininger? Check her out and her cause. As I wrote in my column a year ago, she makes me feel like I have never made a difference in my life. Keep it up, Sarah.

Christina King and her thing, Aspen Strong. She is tackling mental health issues through awareness and education, all with a uniquely Christina approach and style. One of her main supporters and advisors is Lawrence Altman. I was fortunate to be on the Aspen Community Foundation Board with Lawrence. He is the real deal.

If you have been in Aspen or the valley for a while, you most likely have heard of Allison Daily. Her cause, Pathfinders, provides support for cancer and chronically ill patients and those connected with their lives. I’ve experienced the results of her work, and it’s magical. And then there is Art Daily. If I could only be half the man Art is.

Klug Foundation founder Chris Klug. His cause is personal. And he likes it that way. His foundation reaps the rewards it sows in so many ways. Climb on, Chris.

John Sarpa. Our family always wonders if there is more than one “Sarpa.” If there is a way to volunteer and be involved, there is John. And there he is again. You also can put Bennett Bramson in this category. Because … there he is.

To the owners and members at Aspen Glen. For the past couple of years, Detha Mika, a long-time member of the Aspen Glen family and the proud mom of Jonathan Mika, the head coach of the Aspen Valley Ski Club Adaptive program, has organized a fundraising event at Aspen Glen. This past year, the event was a smashing success. A shout out to Bob and Jeri Shapiro and George and Suki Scott for their continued support of AVSC and providing the lift that allows over 2,300 mountain-crazy kids the opportunity to answer the call of the wild and get their much-desired mountain fix.

Skippy Leigh Upton Mesirow. I’m not sure that in my 37 years of calling this valley home that I have ever run into someone quite like Skippy. And I have run into a little bit of everything during my time. Skippy is a whirling derby. He is founder and chair of the Next Generation Advisory Commission; he sits on the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission and on and on. Our valley is in good hands if more younger generation folks turn out to be like Skippy.

Aspen Skiing Co. Give them the love they deserve. What they provide and offer daily, to and for our communities, is basically priceless. I had the fortunate opportunity to work directly with Mike Kaplan in his first role at Aspen Skiing Co. back in the day. I knew then that he was something special. Enough said.

Daniel Paul Jones is onto something with his start up, Bext 360. Stay tuned as he will soon release a platform where the underprivileged that provide commodities in Third World countries will get their ado. The circle will finally be unbroken.

Hollis Kelly kissed a pig for a good cause. I have no idea where to go with this one, but I know he gave his all, for all.

The Gallagher family. Nancy ran up every step, 1,576 to be exact, of the Empire State Building in 20 minutes to raise money and awareness for Multiple Myeloma. A disease that took her father from us. Reilly, who organized and capitalized on the young brilliant minds of her Denver University MBA program in this past year to provide an audit and recommendations for a brighter future for the Shining Stars Foundation. Her team of next-gen thinkers provided invaluable insights and thought process, as a gift. Their make-a-difference commitment already has paid major dividends for Shining Stars. Bo, whose Valley-based entrepreneurial start-up company, Zapazoo Inkworks, since its inception five years ago, has incorporated into their business model an ongoing give-back program. His contributions to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Music Education Program, just in the past couple of years, is in the tens of thousands of dollars. Now that’s music to everyone’s ears. Zapazoo on. Can you tell how proud I am of our family and their commitment to service? And it’s early.

So, there you have it. My first BOLD awards for making service above self a daily occurrence. No matter how you make a difference, always know that it does. Fortune, in every sense of the word, does favor the bold. Spread the fortune. Please.

R.J. Gallagher Jr. is a three-decade resident of the Roaring Fork Valley community. He has proudly served and continues to serve on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Aspen Community Foundation and Komen Aspen. His firm, Forte International, is a supporter of local philanthropy that makes a difference on a global level. “Philantopia,” is a monthly column of The Aspen Times focused on philanthropy and community involvement. R.J.’s always open for ideas. You can reach out to him at