Celebrate the Crazy 8!

June 8, 2017     6:00-9:00pm    @RAFT: 3827 Steele Street

8 honorees…  In the 8 years since we opened our doors to teachers, their superpowers have made RAFT what it is today!

8 rafty materials… repurposed materials have transformative superpowers too!

8, drink, and be merry… with an open bar, live jazz, and fabulous food from a selection of Sage Hospitality restaurants.

2017 Honorees:

Outstanding Impact in Education Award

This award is given to Colorado leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to teachers and an ability to unite educators, philanthropists, business and political leaders to improve education for children in Colorado.

Carrie Morgridge:  X-Ray Visionary.  Being an X-Ray Visionary means not only can you see underneath the surface, you can see into the future! Carrie had the vision to foresee that RAFT had the power to be whatever a teacher needed it to be. A way to save time and money on materials, a source of ideas and inspiration, a resource for lifelong learning, or a place to recharge her batteries after a really tough day. The title of Carrie’s book is “Every Gift Matters.” We want everyone to know how much her gift of bringing RAFT to Colorado has mattered to thousands of teachers and kids!

Peter Van Veen:  Swiss-Army Man.  Everyone knows how important it is to have the right tool for the right job. As RAFT’s very first board member, Peter himself had to be the right tool for just about every job! Sometimes, he used actual tools:  mallets for laying hardwood floors and installing warehouse racking, rollers to paint the walls, and forklifts for moving pallets. Other times, his brain was the tool as he reviewed leases, analyzed financials, and mentored and advised RAFT through its inevitable challenges. And if you need someone to swing a golf club or open a beer – well, the Swiss-Army man has tools for that as well!

Sonia Danielsen:  Urban Outfitter.  If you’re going to run a RAFT, you need a great outfitter to provide you with the right equipment and know-how. We found that in Sonia, one of the co-founders of Danielsen Investments. When RAFT had no reputation, no members, and, let’s be honest, no bank account, she and her husband Barry took a chance and gave us the one piece of equipment that was essential: the key to our first warehouse on Blake Street. But she didn’t stop there. She joined the board and shared her business sense, too!

Zack Neumeyer:  Idea Man.  As the co-founder and Board Chair of Sage Hospitality and an ardent supporter of education in Colorado, Zack’s big smile is a familiar sight around Denver. No matter where he is, who he’s with, or what he’s doing, Zack’s mind is going a mile a minute, making connections and generating ideas. It’s always been that way, ever since he was a little kid taking apart … frogs! After being introduced to RAFT in 2011, Zack has used his superpowers to identify and nurture opportunities to help RAFT turn ordinary materials into extraordinary learning experiences.

Carlie Barnhart:  Mouse Magician.  Remember the fairy tale about the little boy who could draw pictures that came to life? That’s Carlie’s superpower. She listens to the words expressing the ideas, asks great questions, then – quick as a wink – creates artistic representations of the ideas that not only express the concrete information, they exude the energy and essence underneath. Her graphic design work, given so generously to RAFT starting back when things were pretty much smoke and mirrors, helped bring RAFT to life for others.

Mike Johnston:  Mighty Mic.  Some superheros can maneuver their own bodies into amazing acts of altruism. Well, we found a superhero whose mastery of the microphone moves the bodies of others to doing things to improve their community.  At RAFT, we’ve benefitted from his superpowers at every Upcycle.  Somehow, guests mysteriously find themselves raising their hands to provide financial support to RAFT! Why? Mike’s incomparable ability to tap into his educational experience and passion for empowering teachers and kids to illustrate the importance of our mission.

Libby Anschutz + Family:  Super Speedy Supporters.  Speed has its challenges. When people are moving fast, it can be tough to capture their attention! From Libby’s fast skiing to William’s running through the warehouse to find more tubes to cut into ramps for teachers, the Anschutz family is always in motion. Lucky for RAFT, the family makes the time to visit RAFT and provides us with generous financial support.  Their generosity has allowed us to strengthen and stretch our programming in ways that would have been impossible without them!

Carol McDermott:  Fairy Godmother.  A Fairy Godmother is a kind and magical creature.  She uses her powers to provide for others’ needs, empowering and uplifting them in the process. When Carol appeared at RAFT, she did just that. Sharing her gifts of intelligence and thoughtfulness, kindness and persistence, Carol has made the arduous look effortless, and has truly transformed our organizational sustainability. Tirelessly advocating for our mission and for teachers, she inspires and empowers the staff with her hard work, selfless support, and sage advice.



John and Carrie Morgridge Volunteer Award:  Amp the Cause

This award goes to a RAFT group that volunteers repeatedly over time; achieves exceptional results; and leverages its relationships to support RAFT beyond the scope of its scheduled service.


Mary Simon Award for Exceptional Teaching: Shannon Rizza

This award is presented to a RAFT member who exemplifies outstanding teaching of academics and 21st century skills using innovative materials and hands-on learning.

Zack Neumeyer Leading From Within Award: Chandra Jones

This award is presented to an administrator who works collaboratively with teachers and community leaders to implement an innovative educational vision designed to increase student engagement and performance.

Past Honorees

Zack Neumeyer | Pat Hamill | Libby Anschutz | Walter and Christie Isenberg | John and Bridget Grier Family | Steve and Wendy Cohen


Thank You To Our Sponsors!

Innovative Sponsors

Bridget & John Grier

Inspirational Sponsors



Kristin & Jim Bender

Sonia & Barry Danielsen

Lyndia & Cy Harvey

Jody and Bob Phelps

Inventive Sponsors

Nancy Benson
Lynn & Dennis Blum
Marsha & Gary Blum
Peter & Geej Forbes
Sarah & Tyler Harvey

Krista Landerholm & Michael Quinn
Liz Lynner & Jim Palenchar
Nancy & Lloyd Sweet
Stephanie Welsh
RAFT Colorado Board of Trustees

In-Kind Sponsors



Upcycle Committee 2017


Master of Ceremonies

Mike Johnston

Honorary Chairs

Steve and Wendy Cohen, 2016 Upcycle Honorees

Committee Members

Amy Tossava
Angie Willsea
Barry Kluger-Bell
Beth Crist
Betsy Post
Carol McDermott
Carrie Winter
Chris DeKay
Christine Holpuch

Cynthia Way
David Holland
Denise Fisher
Drew Litton
Jay Mills
Jenny Fochek
Jody Phelps
Joshua Hunt
Justine Sawyer

Kate McDonough
Kathy Zook
Krista Landerholm
Kristin Bender
Lisa Donovan
Madison Carter
Marc Gulley
Mark Arseneau
Marsha Blum

Maureen Creswell
Michelle Morgridge
Michelle Zellner
Monica Strass
Nate Angell
Rachel Heise
Rachael Rome
Sarah Harvey
Sharyl Kay Lawson

Stephanie Welsh
Tara Butler
Theresa Stets
Tom Graves
Tracey Wise-Calderon
Tracy Cress
Tyree Booker
Zach Pomeroy

Upcycle is RAFT’s primary fundraising event.  When you attend, you will enjoy an unexpectedly festive, interactive environment where you, along with business leaders, philanthropists, and top-notch educators, will experience the power and fun of hands-on learning. Last year, our RAFT community raised a quarter of a million dollars to support teachers and students in Colorado!