The Story Behind Déjà Vu Rendezvous

The Story Behind Déjà Vu Rendezvous – By Mike Branigan, Publisher CCD Magazine

How it ALL Started
Back in the olden days, folks in the construction industry had some amazing parties. Al Cohen of what later became Weitz-Cohen Construction used to have a party. Dean Nelson and Mike Harms of Mortenson Construction had a legendary Christmas Party at the Brown Palace Hotel (yes, I’m old enough to remember this one). These were well attended events and loads of fun!

Later when some of the “old timers,” namely Bill Caile who retired from Trautman & Shreve, and got bored sitting around the Denver Country Club, an idea came to him, that some of the guys still wanted to get together with their business associates and buddies on a social basis. And boy was he right!

According to Marc Able, P.E. of Able Consulting Group and Chairman of the Déjà vu Rendezvous committee, “A handful of friends decided to invite their friends to a get-together; each assigned to invite 10 guests. 90 invitations went out and 82 people showed up.” Not a bad showing for the first “Déjà vu Rendezvous.” As the idea of a “Rendezvous” took shape, friends including Marc Able, Peggy Coleman, Jim Weber, Bill Caile, Tom Traxler, Dean Nelson, Mike Harms, Ron Norby and others merged the idea of an industry-wide get together to benefit a good cause.

At one time, Caile served on the Board for the Coleman Foundation for Cognitive Disabilities. He later became an advisor and counsel chair to Assistive Technology Partners (ATP), and the idea of a networking event to support a good cause took shape. ATP, the beneficiary from Déjà vu Rendezvous, is the largest industry-wide annual construction event in Colorado.

Thanks to help from the construction and design industry, our beneficiary, Assistive Technology Partners, has become the world leader in elevating the lives of people with severe disabilities. When invited to support this good cause, the AEC industry really stepped up. The total donated now stands at well over $2 million.

Who Does it Help?
Assistive Technology Partners at the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing on the Auraria Campus has become a world-wide leader in assisting people with severe disabilities. Through their outreach, research and search for solutions to real-world problems, hundreds of clients have benefitted from help that this program offers. According to Déjà vu Rendezvous Committee Chairman Marc Able,

“Supporting ATP has been a great thing. The best result in the past few years, was creating an endowed professorship for Cathy Bodine, Ph.D., who has now developed degree programs at the undergraduate, masters and Ph.D levels.”

ATP is sharing world wide technologies with a network of people dedicated to working with people with disabilities.

A great example of ATP evaluating a problem and coming up with a solution came about for people including Rashel Felton (pictured below), who in her early 20s was suffering with cerebral palsy. Felton had a power wheel chair, but wasn’t driving it because she felt as though she had to constantly look at her hand on the joy stick to steer it. ATP staff Occupational Therapist Brian Burns acknowledged and assessed the situation. Burns realized that Felton did enjoy therapeutic horseback riding with the use of a piece of PCV pipe giving direction to her horse. Using this success as a starting point, Brian worked with ATP engineers to created a joy stick and modeled on the same concept. ATP printed several 3-D prototypes and set it up in the position where Felton could operate her wheel chair in a manner that was comfortable for her. They made her power wheel chair operable. She is now very happy and able to use her power chair. This is just
one example of how ATP improves quality of life for their clients. According to Cathy Bodine,

“Assistive Technology Partners envisions a world whereall persons with disabilities are fully engaged in life, without barriers and without boundaries.”

Cathy Bodine expresses gratitude toward all of the contractors who built out the ATP offices on the Auraria Campus, to the architects Shears Adkins and Rockmore for designing the interior office space, and to Bob Wade, Saunders Construction for building out the current space on the Auraria Campus.