Colorado dealer thanks the troops
Ask Colorado and Texas dealer Mike Shaw why he devotes so much time and passion to honoring the military personnel in his region, and he enthusiastically describes the dangerous and demanding job that the U.S. armed forces face every day.
He will detail the dangers and stress of modern combat. He will tell stories about the wounded warriors he has met and the patriotism and sacrifice of people in uniform.
He might even mention his own service.
A Texas A&M student in the 1960s, Shaw worked his way through college serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. He went to Vietnam, where, among other duties, he helped open a drug treatment center for soldiers.
"When I came home in 1971, I was stationed in Seattle," he recounts. "The protesters outside the gates there threw tomatoes on our uniforms."
A lifetime of auto retailing later, Shaw, 66, now has the time and resources to devote to community projects and services. But it is his annual military service-appreciation event in Colorado Springs that of late has become his trademark.
The elegant yearly luncheon at the five-star Broadmoor luxury hotel began when he was approached as a possible sponsor. Shaw instead said he wanted to foot the entire bill.
"Sign me up for life," he told planners. "I'll take care of the whole thing."
In the early days, that translated to organizing lunch for 800 people, including active military, retired personnel, wounded veterans and many of the decorated senior officers who live in the area. "We have a large number of three- and four-star generals living around here," he explains. "And we also have officers come in from Washington to attend."
But Shaw has fanned the luncheon to reach out to more. It now hosts 1,600 people a year from all branches. The event identifies military people who are giving their own time to community services, Shaw explains.
"We spotlight what they're doing with their total life," he says, "not just their military service."
You can reach Lindsay Chappell at email@example.com.