East High Angels are flying high in Denver
On Sunday, I helped kick off the Parr-Widener 5K Walk-Run, an annual event that benefits the A+ Angels, a mentoring program at East High School, and is named for John Parr, Chase Parr and Sandy Widener, who died in a car crash at Christmas 2007. (Katy Parr, then a student at East, was the only member of the family to survive.) John was a political strategist who'd worked with Governor Dick Lamm, then went on to help municipalities across the country -- while also serving as an A+ mentor. Chase was a recent grad of East High. And Sandy was not just an enthusiastic East High booster, but a co-founder of Westword, who'd met John when she interviewed him for a story in the late '70s.
But they were all so much more, which was reflected in the extended community that turned out Sunday.
The East High drum group and the school's Angelaires choral group (Chase had been a member) performed. So did Jonny 5, the rapping Flobot who, as Jamie Laurie, graduated East and then worked there before, as he told the crowd, his parents told him it was time to grow up -- and so he became a full-time rapper.
After the speeches and the songs, the crowd -- which included dogs, babies in strollers, students and many of this town's movers and shakers -- headed out on the 5K course through the city that this family helped to shape.
In fact, John Parr was instrumental in Federico Peña's campaign for mayor in 1983 -- and it was Sandy who came up with Peñas slogan: "Imagine a Great City." The city they all went on to define.
Yesterday, I was in the office thinking about A+ Angels mentoring program and East High's importance in the greater community of Denver when I got a package. Inside was a photograph that used to hang in the Avenue Grill, a photo I'd requested when the owners had updated the wall that was beginning to look like a shrine to the '80s.
It was a photograph from that era, snapped at the restaurant, with Federico Peña, John Parr and Sandy Widener. It's now hanging on my wall.
Angels are everywhere.