Mickey’s Fund toy drive underway in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Mickey’s Fund toy drive underway in Steamboat

It’s time to collect for Snow Pile at Children’s Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical Center in Aurora where Christmas is brought to sick children and their siblings. The holiday drive was started more than 30 years ago by hometown hero and Olympian Jim “Moose” Barrows when his son was being treated at the hospital. Pictured above, from left, are Child Life Director Carla Oliver, Anne Mayberry of Sotheby’s Steamboat Realty, Barrows and Harry Thompson, also of Sotheby’s. (Courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — What started as a Steamboat Springs toddler’s concern for other kids stuck in a hospital on Christmas has turned into one of the biggest gift drives in Denver every year.

It was in 1983 just before Christmas, and Olympian Jim “Moose” Barrows was driving his son Mickey back from Children’s Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical Center in Aurora where the 2 ½-year-old was being treated for a heart condition.

“He met a whole bunch of kids, and he felt bad that those kids were gonna have to stay there and ‘would Santa know they were there?’ That’s pretty perceptive for a 2 ½ year old,”  Barrows said.

Young Mickey didn’t live much longer, and Barrows used that sweet memory to establish Mickey’s Fund, which paid for toys and gifts to be given out at Christmas to young patients. By 1987, Barrows and other Steamboat residents were collecting toys and donations and hauling them to Denver for delivery themselves.

Get involved

The Mickey’s Fund Christmas Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital Colorado runs through Dec. 18. Drop-off locations include: Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty at Wildhorse Meadows, Wells Fargo downtown, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at Howelsen Hill and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

The small gesture has grown over the years with the Children’s Hospital in Denver taking it to a whole new level in the form of the Snow Pile program.

“This idea was expanded in the early ’90s by our Child Life Program and has turned into a two-day gift extravaganza for in- and outpatient families who are struggling,” said Anne Hanson, philanthropy director at Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. “These families are selected by our social workers. Not only do parents get to pick out age-appropriate gifts for their sick and injured children, but they also get to pick out gifts for their other children, as well.”

Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty has helped take over the local toy drive, especially since Barrows has been battling brain tumors and seeking treatment in Denver the past couple of years. Despite health problems, Barrows took the time to speak about the incredible growth of his small fund in memory of his son.

“The Denver Harley toy riders are incredible, and the companies down there that open up their pocketbooks …”  Barrows said. “I’m just glad it’s perpetuating. To go down there and volunteer, it’s a tough thing to describe. You’ll be amazed.”

Barrows has only missed a few days volunteering out of the last 30 years of the toy drive, but he’s not letting his medical treatments interfere with getting the word out.

“It’s great that Steamboat supports me so much. They’re by far, the best,” Barrows said.

Hanson agreed.

“Moose is a very important part of our culture and a good friend,” Hanson said. “We appreciate the efforts your (Steamboat) community has put into this.”

The annual toy drive is underway, and toys are being collected at Sotheby’s in Wildhorse Market, Wells Fargo, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center until Dec. 18, with Steamboat volunteers driving the donations to the Children’s Hospital on Dec. 20.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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