Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (April 7, 2019)

Aspen Words of appreciation

On behalf of the Aspen Words staff and advisory board, I am proud to announce Aspen Words has just concluded one of its most successful Winter Words seasons. I’d like to thank the avid readers and writers of the Roaring Fork Valley for filling the seats at Paepcke Auditorium to capacity.

Our 2019 lineup included renowned rock climber and memoirist Tommy Caldwell, novelist Emily Jeanne Miller, Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, religious scholars and acclaimed authors Elaine Pagels and Kate Bowler, and one of America’s leading investigative journalists, Jane Mayer. We hope these writers expanded the literary conversation in our valley.

We are incredibly grateful to our generous Winter Words sponsors: Beth and Josh Mondry, Helen and Wally Obermeyer, Aspen Thrift Shop, the city of Aspen, Les Dames d’Aspen, The Aspen Times, Aspen Sojourner, Aspen Public Radio, Aspen 82, The Gant, Frias Properties, Four Mountain Sports, Aspen Skiing Co. and Isberian Rug Co. And thank you to our outstanding event moderators: Julie Comins, Carolyne Heldman, Gina Murdock and Penn Newhard. Additional thanks to Explore Booksellers and Opera Gallery.

The active engagement of our community drives programming at Aspen Words. This year, we provided 80 free tickets for Winter Words events to students and teachers throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. We hope to see students, teachers and all of our loyal community members at our upcoming events. Join us on April 11 for a free, livestream viewing party for the Aspen Words Literary Prize at the Pitkin County Library. Make plans to attend a workshop or public program at the Summer Words Writers Conference & Literary Festival (June 16 to 21). Or stop by one of our free writers-in-residence author talks at Hooch throughout the summer and fall.

With thanks and continued appreciation

Suzanne Bober

President, advisory board, Aspen Words

Raising awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis

“Thank you” hardly seems adequate for the very gracious coverage (The Aspen Times) provided to Red Sneakers for Oakley in your paper. We had a fun and educational day on Ajax, making new friends and raising awareness about the dangers of food allergies to so many.

Our nonprofit organization was founded in memory of our son, Oakley Debbs, who suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction from nut allergies and passed away on Thanksgiving weekend 2016 in Maine. Eleven-year-old Oakley was a gentleman, scholar and athlete. He was kind, polite, and the type of person that we all aspire to be.

More than 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, including those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. In response to our unspeakable loss, our family mobilized and created Red Sneakers for Oakley to emphasize the need for widespread education and awareness. We immediately saw red sneakers — Oakley’s prized possessions — as a way to both honor and advance his legacy, while fulfilling the need for more education, advocacy and awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis.

With your support, Red Sneakers for Oakley is rising to meet the challenge of raising awareness, spreading knowledge, and saving lives. This year, among other things:

(1) We expanded our Red Sneakers for Oakley Food Allergy Awareness Days, and coordinated over 150 day programs in schools, workplaces and community centers across the United States. Over 50,000 people have participated in these days.

(2) We launched the International Red Sneakers Day scheduled on May 20 every year. The number “20” was Oakley’s soccer jersey number. The inaugural 2018 campaign was featured in online and offline media nationwide and overseas, with an estimated reach of more than 2.5 million people.

(3) Our online support community and social media footprint continued to grow, with people engaging over half a million times, and more than 11 million impressions in 2018.

(4) Since January, we have 75 families who have written us claiming that we have saved their child’s life with our awareness efforts. They went to the hospital and started carrying their epinephrine auto-injectors, when before they wouldn’t have. We have over 250 additional testimonials from families around the world stating that they credit us for changing their allergy plan and taking action that they otherwise would not have taken.

Please visit to stay connected with Red Sneakers for Oakley and to learn more about how you can continue to make a difference. To post your “red sneakers” photos, visit our Facebook page, and follow us on the following social media sites: Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Thank you again for embracing our mission.

Robert J. Debbs and Merrill Debbs

Palm Beach, Florida

More grants from Aspen Thrift Shop

Every month, volunteers of the Aspen Thrift Shop meet to continue to accomplish our mission: to make grants to nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are grateful to community members who continue to support our efforts by donating and purchasing gently used clothing and household items. For the month of March, we are pleased to announce the following recipients: Aspen Chapel Gallery, Aspen Strong, Casa of the Ninth, Pitkin County Senior Services, Pathfinders, Stepping Stones, Theatre Aspen, Voices and Your Friends for Life.

The ladies of the Aspen Thrift Shop