June 24, 2011

Star-Gazing at TAPS Songwriters & Artists Dinner
Story by M. Darcy

The star-filled TAPS Celebrity Golf Classic offers a lot of bang for your charity buck, and Friday, June 24th, it wasn’t losing value with its “Songwriters & Artists” Show and Dinner at the Red Lion Hotel Denver Southeast. Friday’s show featured a fantastic line-up of Nashville’s newest talent, and, of course, The Gatlin Brothers were a huge draw as the event hosts again. In the lobby, Steve Gatlin quietly rolled up to the registration table to get his name tag. Brother Larry was a little more obvious when singer, musician and constant comedian Gary Mule Deer “accidently” bumped into him. The two appeared to have a serious parley before bear-hugging and hamming it up for the camera.

Also spotted among the 300+ guests who crowded the auction and sales tables – generally unaware that celebs were right next to them – were entertainers Tony David, Brett Jones, Charla Corn, Clay Shelburn, Leslie Satcher, Pam Hughes, and Jeff Dayton; TV/radio personalities Dr. Dave Hnida, Mike Rosen, Natalie Vickers, Jake Jabs and Peter Boyles; House Representatives Nancy Todd and David Balmer; plus military leaders Col. Greg “Matt” Dillon, Col. Bruce Dikeman, and Lt Gen Michael Gould.

But the reason people throng to this event isn’t to star-gaze, take in a great dinner show or play a few rounds of golf. That’s just a bonus. People have been flocking to this event for six years strong because they recognize the value of TAPS, which “cares for the families of the fallen.” TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, exists to support anyone who has lost a military loved one, regardless of their relationship to the deceased or the circumstance of the death.

“When the flag is folded and the service is over,” explains event director Lynne Cottrell, “[the surviving family members] have to go away from the military base, children have to change schools; it’s very traumatic. We forget about these families who have also made a sacrifice. TAPS helps kids deal with their grief, honor their fathers [or mothers], who have given so much for the freedom of this country.”

For those past six years, Lynne Cottrell and her husband Bo have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the tournament. This year’s funds go toward TAPS’ regional Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors at Fort Carson in Colorado and will also help underwrite the costs of camps at other bases across the country. Good Grief Camps provide children with a safe and supportive peer atmosphere to learn coping skills, create support systems, and understand that they are not alone in their grief.

If you’d like more information, or would like to attend next year’s event, go to their website at http://www.taps.org/friends/. Future events can also be found under “fundraising events”. Their toll-free number is 800-959-TAPS (8277)

Pictured with Tony from top to bottom: (1) Bonnie Carroll, TAPS Founder and CEO; (2) Dani David, Lynne Cottrell, Michael Martin Murphy and Bo Cottrell; (3) Dr. Dave Hnida; (4) Natalie Vickers, Pete Coors, and Eddie Johnson; (5 & 6) Michael Martin Murphey; (7) Gatlin Brothers – Steve, Larry & Rudy