Déjà Vu Rendezvous

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Successful Fundraiser Shows the Generosity of the Colorado Construction Industry.

Déjà Vu Rendezvous. Clever name. Clever event. Work hard, play hard wasn’t lost on the crowd at the 11th Annual Night of Celebration for the Construction Industry. The industry that also gives back!

Revelers began arriving before 5:30 p.m. and continued to arrive throughout the evening until the midnight close of Mile High Station. Some stayed the entire time. Some arrived via their own transportation while others selected Uber. The planning committee thought of every detail including a taxi cab table for a safe ride home. That’s because the bars were fully stocked and the varied cuisine was abundant – all night long. It was refreshing to see the numbers of young people choosing construction as their profession.

The beauty of this event is that it is like no other fundraiser in town. And, there are thousands of other events. There is no assigned seating such as a table for 10. There is no silent auction. No live auction. No appeals with “paddle raising.” There is no program. No video. No speeches. There is not even music! It’s pure party. Pure and simple. The fun is that the fundraising is done during the lead up promotion time with various companies in the construction industry sponsoring at various levels with various benefits and some individual admission prices ALL IN ADVANCE OF THE EVENT. Each year, a committee is established to solicit these sponsors. So, when guests arrive, it’s serious party time. Eat. Drink. Celebrate. To benefit Assistive Technology Partners (ATP) – CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Cathy Bodine, PhD, teaches and does research. She has been with ATP since 1996 when CU first hired her and there was one grant available. “It’s about the passion,” she said. “The construction industry really cares about the community. It’s a close-knit industry of good people and good friends. We have a great team and great students.” She mentioned that members of the construction “family” even tour the clinics.

Déjà vu Steering Committee Chairman Marc Able says, “Thanks to the generosity of many of the leading members of the design and construction community, the Déjà vu Rendezvous steering committee raised nearly one-quarter million dollars this year. The 11-year total now stands at $2 and one-half million. Our partner from the beginning has been Assistive Technology Partners and the funds have established the only graduate degree programs in the country in the field of Assistive Technology at the University of Colorado’s Bio-Engineering Department and funded the operation of ATP’s clinic serving clients with significant disabilities. We are thrilled that the Déjà vu event has become “The Party of the Year” for our industry and we hope to continue it and our partnership with ATP for years to come.”

Where does the money go? The clinics are for complex disabilities. Most of the funds go to families who have no other way to pay for the patient services. There is also a scholarship fund for post-doctoral students in bioengineering to design for the next generation. The nonprofit ATP is under the umbrella of the University of Colorado. “Our program is unique in the world,” said Dr. Bodine. “No where else is medicine and engineering doing the work we do and all we do is in collaboration.”

The concept began as small gathering at Denver Country Club when Bill Caile invited 100 friends and 85 showed up. The original group of planners wanted to give back and chose a charity. This year 800 showed up for ATP. The venue – Mile High Station is now established and has been signed for four more years.

And, Colorado continues to add construction jobs. Imagine the amount of giving to add to the already $2.2 million in scholarships and funding for CU engineering students to help with products to aid people with disabilities…

Michael Gifford is president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Colorado and has been involved since the celebration’s inception. When he arrived in Denver 10 years ago from Idaho, there were 171,000 construction employees. By 2011, the number was down to 104,000 – a 40% drop. In seven years, by 2018, the number is up to 175,000. The outlook for the next few years is to continue that growth. The demands are strong. Despite all the cranes, we are 25,000 homes behind what is needed for the demand. Commercial is still strong and there is lots of public investment. “The industry is extremely generous and the people in the industry appreciate,” said Gifford. “We found a need, wanted to fill it and help raise money.”

“Our greatest challenge going forward is filling the workforce. We attract doers, risk takers and entrepreneurs. Those who like to build with their hands and see a finished product. We are open and welcoming especially to young people to whom the technology-driven opportunities are appealing and invite a visit to our website: buildcolorado.com.”

For additional photos from the event please see page 62 in Parting Shots of the Spring-Summer edition of Colorado Construction & Design.
Article written by Scottie Taylor Iverson