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Through their eyes: CBCS second-graders’ Sled-A-Thon will help Lyons Elementary flood students

Although the waters of last year’s disastrous floods on the Front Range have long receded, the enormity of the destruction remains in many places. There are still people without homes, and some still trying to rebuild their lives from the mid-September devastation.
The town of Lyons, a stone’s throw up the road from Boulder, was nearly wiped off the map by the raging waters. Lyons is a lot like Crested Butte—a small, close community about the same in size, with people who love their kids, dogs, mountain bikes, outdoors, parties, music and brews.
Although the Lyons Elementary School, which is on a hill, fared better than most, the roads to the town were obliterated and the kids were displaced to Longmont schools for over two months. Some of those kids and their families had no homes to return to.
Buttians famously come together in times of need and the Crested Butte kids are jumping on the bandwagon, or more precisely, their sleds.
The second grade classes of Stevie Kremer and Amelia Poppe at the Crested Butte Community School (CBCS) are pitching in to help out their fellow elementary students in Lyons by having a Sled-A-Thon, from noon-ish until about 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, to raise money for a project—a book of writings and drawings done by the Lyons elementary student body.
The book will be titled “Through Our Eyes: Lyons Elementary School’s Flood Experience,” and will feature artwork from the students as well as dictation about their experiences during the flood. Every student will have the opportunity to have their work and their story included in the book. The parents are volunteering their InDesign expertise and layout, as well as conducting the interviews, all of which are open to every one of the 340 kids from kindergarten through fifth grades.
The books will be hardback, in color and printed on quality paper with the publishing costs running about $4,000.
By expressing their fears, sorrow and experiences, the children can begin to heal. Some of the entries that will be included feature drawings like the one by a young girl that says on it, “I was hurrying to save my cat” and its heartbreaking depiction of her running to her house with stormy flood waters racing towards her as she reaches out for her cat.
Another drawing explained, “My dad climbed the mountain to safety,” and there’s artwork of some who actually had to get helicoptered out.
There will probably be two pages reserved in the book for the CBCS second graders to put their stories, drawings, well wishes and experiences of raising the money for their Lyons friends.
Second grade CBCS teacher Stevie Kremer thinks involving Crested Butte students in this project is a good idea. “The concept we want our kids to get is a feel and understanding of what these kids their own age went through and what they lost, from a first-hand experience,” Kremer says.
“I think our kids are very passionate kids,” says Kremer, “and when they see that one of their classmates is hurt or when someone is crying or sad, they run to them. They care about each other and want to help. They have that empathy and I’m hoping that they find even more compassion and realize that these Lyons kids lost a lot and will want to help these kids as much as they can.”
The schools are setting up two Skype sessions so the second graders from both schools can meet, talk and share their feelings with each other online.
Kremer says the kids will try to raise money by sledding for about two and a half hours. They’re hoping to get pledges per lap or per hour as they trudge up and speed down the Nordic Center Hill.
Approximately 44 sledders will participate. The kids are also being encouraging to shovel driveways, help in shops, and do chores around the house for monetary compensation.
“We want the kids to be involved and show ownership in this,” Kremer says. “We want our kids to appreciate all they have and realize how everything can change in a moment, and how hard it would be to lose things that are so close to you.”
Continuing their help in donations and benefits for all the flood victims, Oskar Blues Brewery, based in Lyons, will match every dollar raised by the CBCS kids through their CAN’d Aid program. The CAN’d Aid Foundation is doing work in a variety of areas such as “Tunes” (all music related endeavors), “Towns” (flood relief/recovery), “Treads & Trails” (biking, trail work, health and wellness), “Love Yer Mama” (sustainability, recycling, enviro), and “Total CANarchy” (worthy projects in any realm).
Crested Butte local Diana Ralston, the executive director of Oskar Blues CAN’d Aid Foundation, is excited to be part of this event, saying, “I’m really inspired to be part of funding their project, which would allow each Lyons family and faculty member to have a free copy of the book, as well as a few for CBCS and other Lyons community members.
“CAN’d Aid Foundation will cover whatever isn’t raised by the kids,” continues Ralston, “so it’s really more about the story, making sure our kids grasp what these Lyons kids have gone through and creating a connection between our schools. I think the kids will take pride in trying to reach their individual goals and an overall collective goal. I saw some of the artwork while I was in Lyons, and it’s really powerful and heart wrenching.”
The CBCS second graders will be out seeking donations for their Sled-A-Thon. Contact the CBCS school for more information or Stevie Kremer at skremer@gunnisonschools.net. To contribute to the Oskar Blues CAN’d Aid Foundation Colorado Flood Relief Fund or inquire about partnership opportunities, visit foundation.oskarblues.com or contact Diana Ralston at Diana@oskarblues.com.

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