Sunday, September 16, 2012

Party at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL) benefits nonprofits

Though Windsor residents Jamison and Tammy Bohl didn't take their suitcases to the Suitcase Party, they should have -- for the free trip they won to Catalina Island.

"We went with the clothes we had on our backs," Jamison Bohl said about the trip they took at the end of August. "We didn't expect to win, so we didn't pack."

The Bohls and two other couples won the annual weekend trip through Northern Colorado Active 20/30, or NOCO 20/30.

The club of men in their 20s and 30s, which formed in 2007, wanted to hold a high-yield fundraiser and came up with the Suitcase Party to raise money for nonprofits in Northern Colorado.

The Suitcase Party takes place each summer in an airplane hangar at the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport. The hangar is converted from an industrial setting into a decorated event hall with bars and food stations and a live music and auction stage.

The raffle for an unknown destination highlights the party, this year on Aug. 24, with a drawing for a round-trip flight on a private jet. The winners of the trip have to leave 20 minutes after the drawing, hence the need for the suitcase. There were two flights and a third purchased through the silent auction, which the recipient donated back to the club.

More than 1,200 people attended the party, which grossed more than $260,000, compared with $80,000 the first year in 2007.

"It's just a really high-energy event," said Billy Campbell, president of NOC0 20/30. "It really is a party. There's a great band, a lot of beverage flowing and a lot of dancing."

The club holds two other large-scale fundraising and community events -- the Down and Derby Party at the end of April to coincide with the Kentucky Derby, and Christmas for Kids, where club members take 300 needy children and their families shopping for Christmas gifts.

Club members donate what they raise to 20 different Northern Colorado nonprofits.

"We serve as a fundraising conduit to raise money for any organization in Northern Colorado that serves disadvantaged youth," Campbell said.

The club started with five members who wanted to make a bigger impact beyond the nonprofits where they were volunteering, Campbell said. They liked the idea of the Denver 20/30 club and started a local club based on the international organization.

"When a lot of us looked around at the other service organizations, we saw a gap for young professionals to get engaged early on," said Nathan Klein, a member of the club. "It makes it a lot of fun when you can do it with people your own age."

The members are young business leaders and entrepreneurs interested in developing their leadership skills and sense of community, as stated on the organization's website,

Since its founding, the club has grown to 39 members and has donated $1 million to charity. Last year, the club donated $300,000 and this year wants to raise that amount to $500,000.

"I've been very impressed with the caliber of leadership the members of the group show and have," said Kathi Wright, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County, one of the funding recipients of NOCO 20/30. "Their fundraisers are awesome. Their connections are a cut above." 


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