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Theater springs into action for families

April E. Clark

John and Regina Buxman can barely discuss the benefit they are planning for two families devastated by fire without tears welling up in their eyes.The Springs Theatre owners are holding a fund-raising community celebration for the Durrett and Ortiz families from 5:30-11 p.m. Thursday. More than 40 restaurants have donated food, wine and beer for the event, which also features a screening of “The Godfather.””My wife and I started this as a very small get-together at the theater,” John said. “We have had an overwhelming response from the community. I’ve run out of adjectives to describe how heartwarming people have been.”Thursday’s celebration was originally planned to benefit Italian Underground restaurant owner Ashton Durrett and his family, who lost their 113-year-old home in a fire Dec. 23. After flames ravaged Alvoro and Carmen Ortiz’s trailer in late January, Durrett asked Buxman to expand the benefit to include the Glenwood Springs family of four.”This is my lesson in acceptance,” said Durrett, who is a former Glenwood Springs city councilman and mayor. “There are a lot of people who don’t get taken care of like I have. It’s hard for people not to fall through the cracks. They come to town and they don’t have the network I have. The Ortiz family is just trying to live the American dream like my grandparents did.”Over the last few weeks, the generosity of valley restaurants, vendors, distributors and shops has humbled the Buxmans. The party quickly outgrew the theater venue, spreading next door to a nearly 4,000-square-foot, fully heated and decorated tent complete with twinkling lights.”Everyone has gone out of their way to contribute. The Bank of Colorado’s donation of their parking lot for three days and donations from Peak Tent and Party Rental – who literally donated thousands of dollars in the tent, heaters and lights – we wouldn’t be where we are today,” John said. “It’s amazing how deep the admiration is for Ashton Durrett in this community. The city has completely blown us away.”Regina said many touching stories have surfaced illustrating how restaurant and business owners have been overly supportive. Even if they couldn’t donate food, she said, people were willing to give certificates for gift boxes for each family, an idea from Shirley Beres of the Riviera Supper Club.”So many local restaurants have offered so much more than we’ve asked for. Many of them will be restocking food throughout the night and are sending employees to work at the event,” she said. “Even employees at a chain store that normally can’t donate are willing to give all the money in their slush fund.”With such positive response from business owners, the Buxmans hope the event will be equally successful. To help the families recover from the tragedies, a $20 cash or check donation will be collected at the door. Any clothing or household donations for the families can be dropped off at the Hotel Colorado.”The spirit of the event is in the donations. We’ve been told, ‘You should charge more,’ but this is for everybody. The admission price should not dictate who should come,” John said. “This party is sort of an adult party, since we are showing an R-rated movie, we’ll be serving beer and wine, and checking IDs. But we don’t want to turn anyone away.”Food and libations aren’t the only highlights of Thursday’s celebration. As part of the event, the first 300 people interested in viewing the “The Godfather,” the film classic about the Mafia, can move from the tent to the theater at 7:30 p.m.”The theme of ‘The Godfather’ was kind of a funny idea that caught on since Ashton owns the Italian Underground,” John said. “We want people to know that even if they don’t see the movie, the party will still go until 11 p.m. We really encourage them to hang out in the tent, too.”Whether the draw is film, food or fund-raising, the Buxmans would like to see as many faces from the community Thursday night as possible.”Where else has been there a party like this for everyone?” Regina said. “Both families will be at the event. Ashton is even closing the restaurant for the night, and his employees will be working (at the fund-raiser). The outpouring of generosity and enthusiasm is unmatchable.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com


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