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AROUND TOWN: Pikes Peak Club gives to students and the community
For 64 years, dating back to its 1946 charter, it was an active service club, Pikes Peak Sertoma, raising several hundred thousand dollars and giving hundreds of volunteer hours to the community.
Two years ago, 35 local men broke away and formed the Pikes Peak Club to raise scholarship money for local students and to support local nonprofits. “We make money and give it away,” said Rod Wells, explaining the group’s philanthropic model. PPC works collaboratively with groups in El Paso and Teller counties, often mixing “money and manpower.”
Among the club’s recipients have been Silver Key Senior Services, The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
And therein lies a club story. Sam Rush-Walton, of Ronald McDonald House Charities, was a guest speaker at a group luncheon where members raised several hundred dollars for RMHC through a humorous auction. Then, they decided, since the speaker’s name was Sam, she was probably a perfect fit for the group. They voted and the Pikes Peak Club became “35 guys and one woman.”
For Sam it was a perfect fit because of community involvement and the goofiness that follows these guys — like the “Kulture” tradition, when a battered metal bed pan adorned with a bicycle bell signals the telling of awful jokes. The worse the joke, the more coins the jokester must toss into the bed pan.
“These men obviously love life, choose to live it well and serve our community,” said Sam.
They’re also interested in local history and visited the Pioneers Museum recently to learn about Colorado’s women’s suffrage from archivist Leah Davis-Witherow. The luncheon was set up by Dick Wilhelm, a PPC member and local resident who also is a member emeritus of the Friends of the Pioneers Museum.
Suffrage was a bit of a battle, they learned, because opponents thought women voting would tear down the family, that women were “too emotional” to vote and that women had no need to vote because their husbands took care of that. One cartoon declared that voting women were just “battalions of old maids unlucky in love.”
When the time came to vote on suffrage in the late 1800s, women stood outside the polls and looked eye-to-eye at each male going inside to cast ballots. No surprise, this time suffrage won, Davis-Witherow said to laughter.
The Pikes Peak Club meets at noon Thursdays at MacKenzies Chop House, 28 S. Tejon St., thepikespeakclub.com.