Rick Lester, R.I.P.: Arts exec dies during Courage Classic ride to honor grandchild

Categories: News

Photos, video below.
The Courage Classic concludes today. But the Children's Hospital cycling fundraiser, now in its 24th year, has already been marked by a first-of-its-kind tragedy: the death of a participant.

Rick Lester, 61, a major figure in the Colorado Springs arts community, and a four-time Courage Classic rider, passed away on Saturday after suffering a thus-far-unspecified medical crisis. Lester was riding in honor of his grandchild. Learn more about him and see photos and video below.

The portrait of Lester on the TRG Arts website.
Lester was the chief executive officer of TRG Arts, a consulting firm devoted to nonprofit arts organizations. Here's the memorial posted on the organization's website:
Over the weekend, TRG lost a leader, mentor, colleague, and friend. Today, we are taking time to remember all that Rick has meant to us individually, to our company, and to our work in the arts and entertainment field. We will resume TRG business as usual, but not just yet.

We ask your understanding as we mourn alongside Rick's family whose privacy we request that you join us in respecting. Memorial details still are forthcoming and will be posted on this site as they become available.

TRG also shares a lengthy profile of Lester, which we've included below in its entirety. But another side of Lester can be seen on the Courage Classic page dedicated to his team; it was published before his death.

Under the heading "Why I Ride," Lester wrote:

I am riding the 2013 Courage Classic in memory of my late grandson, Noah Wilkerson, whose only fault in life was his unfortunate choice of grandfathers. Early testing is critical for kids like Noah. Thankfully, inherited metabolic diseases are treatable today because of the professionals at Children's Hospital.

The Courage Classic is a huge personal challenge each year. It is also a wonderful opportunity to provide healthy outcomes for the kids and families who need Children's Colorado.

Thank you for your support. It means a great deal to me and my entire family.

Also included on the page are several photos, including this shot of signs presumably worn by members of Lester's crew, known as The Gene Team....

rick.lester.noah.sign.jpg a pic of the full team....
...and a shot of Lester and a friend geared up and ready to ride:

In response to Lester's death, Children's Hospital CEO Jim Shmerling released the following statement: "We are truly saddened beyond what words can express. Children's Hospital Colorado, Children's Colorado Foundation and the entire Courage Classic team extends our deepest condolences to the Lester family and everyone affected by this tragedy."

We second that emotion.

By the way, The Gene Team set out to raise $10,000 for Children's Hospital and surpassed that goal, collecting $11,175. This legacy does Lester proud.

Continue for more information about Rick Lester, plus a video about his passing.

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