Written by CC Cunningham, CKF Program Manager.
It was incredibly special to have the Chris Klug Foundation’s top donors, key stakeholders, and supporters all together in one room at our fifth annual Founders’ Circle dinner this past Thursday night to celebrate and recognize their contributions. Over 80 friends of the foundation joined us for this honorary tradition at the Klug residence in Aspen, Colorado and it turned out to be a truly wonderful night: with clear skies, beautiful music provided by the talented Dan Sheridan, delicious food served up by local favorite, Slow Groovin’ BBQ, and a bright full moon that hung low over the mountains and helped illuminate our intimate evening.
Chris Klug kicked off the night by recognizing our top contributors of 2019—generous supporters like long-time sponsor Astellas Pharma, the Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, the Aspen Square Hotel, the Aspen Sojourner (who graciously donated all of the wine and spirits for the night as well!), Russell and Helen Hoffberger, and our brand-new Summit for Life title sponsor, Nicole Jockisch Carlos. This year, seven new donors were added to the Founders’ Circle and we can’t wait to see how the Circle continues to grow in the years to come!
Chris also acknowledged the hard work and support of the dedicated members of our three charity teams this year: the Leadville Trail 100 MTB team, the TCS New York City Marathon team, and the (inaugural!) Leadville Trail 100 Run team. Many of these team members joined us for the dinner, which made it all the more meaningful for us to have the chance to thank them personally for their training and fundraising efforts.
One of the more touching moments of the night was introducing the dinner’s guest of honor, Heidi Hughes, a two-time kidney transplant recipient who volunteered with CKF during the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race in August. Heidi was born with a rare, genetic disease called cystinosis, which affects the entire body by creating a buildup of cystine crystals in every cell, muscle, and organ. She is one of 500 people in the United States who currently have cystinosis. There are many complications of the disease, including visual blindness, muscle wasting, and multi-organ failure. Heidi shared her story with dinner attendees and highlighted her two kidney transplant experiences. She received her first kidney transplant from her own father, Gary Hughes, a firefighter of 35 years who traveled all the way from Florida to attend Thursday night’s dinner with his daughter. Unfortunately, this first kidney succumbed to end-stage renal failure after seven years and Heidi received another kidney from a living donor—this time, from a total stranger who had discovered her story on social media. Her story was incredibly inspiring to hear and it was so special to have her and her father there with all of us. Heidi is a perfect example of what the miracle of organ donation can do and how this room of supporters makes a gigantic difference for others like her.
All in all, it was a wonderful night filled with friends, food, and lots of fun. We are so grateful for the opportunity to highlight the people who make our foundation’s work and mission possible each year. Thank you to those who joined us for this special night and an even bigger thank you to everyone who contributed to the Chris Klug Foundation in 2019 and our lifesaving mission of organ donation.
CKF would also like to express special thanks to Roaring Fork Beer Company for providing the ice-cold beer for Thursday’s event as well as Nancy Mayer from the Aspen Sojourner for documenting the night with her wonderful photos.
Photo credit goes to Nancy Mayer from the Aspen Sojourner.