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Motorists give generously

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Cheryl Oeltjenbruns and Mark Burgard are pictured next to two of the flashy sports cars taking part in the Peak to Peak Rallye.

Individually and as a group, motorists in the Peak to Peak Rallye opened their checkbooks and their hearts to the homeless in Delta County on Monday.

The group was en route from Redstone to Telluride when they stopped at the Abraham Connection homeless shelter. The last time the route took the drivers through Delta, they left a donation of $10,000.

At Monday's gathering, Cheryl Oeltjenbruns, director of the Abraham Connection, explained how that contribution was used as seed money to build the homeless shelter that opened last December. The $750,000 facility is completely paid for, thanks to $300,000 from the state, grants and individual donations. The drivers of the Lamborghinis, Porsches and Jaguars listened attentively as Oeltjenbruns explained how the number of bed nights more than doubled after the shelter at 5th and Silver was opened. With the exception of an intake person, the shelter is primarily volunteer-driven. A total of 31 different groups provide dinner to shelter occupants, which can hit 28 on busy nights. Other volunteers provide breakfast in the morning.

The facility provides more than a nourishing meal and a warm place to sleep, however -- Oeltjenbruns explained how counselors are helping people get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.

At the conclusion of her short presentation, Mark Burgard and his father-in-law Harry Mathews of Mathews Auto Collection, event organizer, handed over not one, but four, checks totaling $19,200. One check was from the Peak to Peak Rallye, another was from Porsche of Colorado Springs, and two were from anonymous donors. As the presentation wound down, several drivers got out their checkbooks and wrote $1,000 checks.

Board members said they were amazed by the group's generosity. Several wiped tears from their eyes.

The Peak to Peak Rallye is an annual charity sports car rallye touring the Rocky Mountain region, primarily in Colorado as the fall colors change.

While motorists enjoy the scenery, the winding roads and the camaraderie of the event, "It's what we do now that makes the difference," said Burgard. "It's a gift for us to be able to make this donation."

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