COLORADO SPRINGS – The Colorado Springs community knows all too well the service of our military doesn’t stop with the men and women that don the uniform.
Their families, in a number of ways, serve too.
So on Memorial Day, when the nation pauses to honor those that have died serving our country, a slew of Colorado Springs breweries found a way to not just show their support but act on it too, raising money for a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit that helps military families.
Joe Lewis founded Angels of America’s Fallen — the nonprofit that provides support for children who have lost a military, police officer, firefighter or EMS parent.
He said the holiday is personal for him.
“I lost friends in every branch, and so the common threat that it was a very good guy that had a very young kid,” Lewis said.
Since his military retirement, Lewis has since made it his life’s work to care for those children, getting them into a positive activity of their choosing from the time of their parent’s death up through their 18th birthday.
That’s included sports, art, music, even cooking classes in the past.
“I thought, you know, they really need something positive to engage in the whole time. And that way, they’ve got something instead of becoming withdrawn and depressed or running with the wrong crowd,” Lewis said.
Right now, the nonprofit supports 300 children, including 42 in Colorado Springs. Lewis budgets $1,500 a year to provide activities for each kid, and there’s also a lengthy list of children waiting to receive that support.
But like any nonprofit, fulfilling those dreams for the Angels of America’s Fallen carries with it a hefty price tag.
That’s where the breweries, including Bristol Brewing, Red Leg Brewing and many others, came in.
“A dollar from every pint sold throughout Memorial Day goes to Angels of America’s Fallen,” said Todd Baldwin, founder and president of Red Leg Brewing Company.
At first, the fundraiser was small, until Bristol Brewing’s Kortney Reyes had a larger vision.
“We really wanted to help support that organization and then decided, ‘OK, can we take this to a bigger level? Can we get other breweries involved,'” Reyes said.
That’s exactly what happened this Memorial Day. The fundraiser featured 15 vendors, 11 of which were breweries.
Baldwin took it a step further himself. He’s been raising money for the charity all year long, including a charity run Monday morning, with the goal of raising $15,000. He hit that goal Monday.
“When you’re in the service, you need to take care of your brothers and sisters and it’s no different here,” Baldwin said. “You want to take care of those children who, you know, lost their parent. And it’s really our responsibility to step up now and to help them.”
So, on a day when the nation paused to remember our fallen service members, these breweries found a way to honor not just our troops but their families as well.
Baldwin said it’s a way to show their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“These kids didn’t have a choice… It’s a responsibility we take really seriously, and I think the community of Colorado Springs takes it really seriously too,” Baldwin said.