Frontline Heroes: Duncan Draper, Mike Swinsick, Rebecca Cordero Ramirez, Katie Brown, Sophia Waters
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — To mark the one-year milestone of the COVID-19 pandemic in Routt County, Steamboat Pilot & Today asked people to nominate local individuals who they believed went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duncan Draper is a longtime Steamboat ski patroller and supervisor on the mountain. Most days he can be found cruising the runs on his tele-skis, checking for safety hazards and assisting skiers and riders. His heart is as big as his smile. This season, he has taken on an additional role, that of public address announcer on the stage at Gondola Square. He is very visible and audible, extolling guests to pull up their masks, maintain social distance, and above all, enjoy the day. His Alabama twang and constant good humor bring laughs from anyone nearby. Duncan is typically seen with his keg-toting companion, Powder, a St. Bernard that shares Duncan’s home and sometimes his stage. Duncan brings out the best of everyone around him, all while ensuring that precious ski days are fun and safe during the pandemic. He has persevered this winter season through personal losses and still hasn’t missed a busy day of welcoming all who come to enjoy the mountain.
While North Routt Fire has not had many COVID-19 cases to transport and deal with, it was more than prepared, and North Routt Fire Chief Mike Swinsick sat in on every county and state preparedness meeting available to make that happen. He not only made sure the volunteers under his charge had the protection they needed, but he continued looking out for the welfare of the community. With law enforcement, Search and Rescue, tow trucks and all other forms of help more than an hour away from parts of his district, Mike has always felt a responsibility to fill the gaps for the community as a whole. He goes above and beyond his duties as fire chief to help neighbors in any kind of need and in all kinds of weather. He also is a devoted caregiver for his wife.
Rebecca Cordero Ramirez
Rebecca Cordero Ramirez works on the frontlines at City Market in Steamboat Springs. She moved her family from Puerto Rico to provide a better life for her son. Her smile is noticeable under her mask through her beautiful eyes. Rebecca is an example to the community of the value of service, hard work, respect for others and simple kindness.
Katie Brown, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., has been tirelessly supporting and encouraging the sales and marketing staff to be the best, take care of themselves and do whatever is needed to take care of Steamboat Resort guests. Katie is a respected leader who regularly sends her staff notes of encouragement, small gifts of thanks and other thoughtful touches, which in turn fuels them to nurture guests and provide for them with the highest level of customer service. It is a behind-the-scenes role, but it is also an engine to affect change for the good and reverberates in a positive way for visiting guests and the community as a whole.
Sophia Waters is a self-motivated 17-year-old student, who, on her own volition, attends a mixture of eight online Colorado Mountain College classes, Steamboat High School AP classes and regular high school classes. She earned six As and one B last semester while working two jobs. She also participates and choreographs for Steamboat Dance Showcase and takes aerial silks and lyra lessons at Excel Gymnastics. While doing all of these things, she lives in her own apartment with her own cat and cooks and cleans for herself. She doesn’t drink or smoke, is very mindful of being safe during COVID-19 and responsibly limits socialization. She has the discipline to do all of this on her own, and though she has missed out on so much of the high school experience, she still manages to keep a positive attitude and a smile on her face.
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