The Hot Mamas of the Telluride Aids Benefit

February 29, 2012
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Last week my husband was sitting next to me on the couch with his laptop.  I glanced over and noticed that the entire computer screen was covered first with a picture of Kelly Ripa, and then Goldie Hawn.  I am not normally a paranoid person, but REALLY? I finally had to ask the inevitable question, “What ARE you looking at?”  He was reading an article on the Unofficial Networks website.  This website follows resort towns all over the world and it always interesting.   He scrolled up and the title of the article was “Who has Hotter Cougars-Telluride or a little place called Asspen?” I did giggle! My first thought was to automatically say Telluride, but I decided to read the entire article before announcing that I was right. And after reading the article, of course I was totally right!!!  I feel like I have justification to make this call- I grew up in Aspen in the 80’s and have been in Telluride for the last 5 years. As celebrity life is so far removed from my own life,  I quickly swept that out of my mind and starting thinking about the real people in Aspen and Telluride.

What better time to think about gorgeous people than during Telluride Aids Benefit week? Being that this is a small town I do have a few friends in the show, and they are MOMS!  To be exact, there are four moms in the show and I happen to know three of them.  I also came across another Mom who tried out for the show, but did not make the cut. Instead of running away and licking her wounds in the privacy of her own home, she decided to step up and volunteer in a different capacity.

These moms generously agreed to be interviewed for San Juan Parent. Each of these moms is as gorgeous on the inside as they are on the outside. Read on, and see for yourself.

Tamara Strang, Robin Jones, Molly Wickwire Sante

From left to right: Tamara Strang, Robin Jones, Molly Wickwire Sante

Tamara Strang

Tamara Strang has been in Telluride for two years now, and is mom to Emme and Ian, and wife to Max Strang.  They moved here from South Florida to be part of the great life that Telluride has to offer.  Her background is contemporary dance and choreography in a professional dance company.  She might be one of the funniest people you will ever meet- her energy and magnetic laughter is contagious.

SJP- Why did you try out for the fashion show?
TS  Because I am a performer, that is what I do- or did.

SJP- How were the auditions?
TS  Fun. Awesome. I have not auditioned for 15 years-it brought back many memories.

SJP-This is your first year being part of the show, and what do you think so far?
TS It is so much fun! I met Candy and Anne Marie, the women that started the show and we bonded immediately.  They are so much fun.

SJP- How has your home life been throughout this process? I hear that you guys practice all the time?
TS I have not kissed my kids goodnight in three weeks and my husband is doing it for me. It has been difficult not being there all of the time for my family but in the end I think they are going to be proud of me.  When I tried out for the show it was more of an “ego” thing. It was something  just for me. That part is still there, but it’s so much more than that.  I am helping to raise money for people who really need it, and these are people in Colorado and Africa.  It brings back so many memories. I was a dancer in Miami in the 80’s and there were many times I slept in a hospital bed next to a friend that was dying of AIDS, almost everyone died that contracted the disease back then.  I had placed those memories pretty far back in my mind for a long time and now I am doing something that I couldn’t do then, which is to help raise money and awareness.

SJP- This is pretty powerful, you are starting to tear up.  Did you expect that you would be this emotional when you tried out?
TS -Uhh no! It’s been hard because I have not spent much time with my kids or husband lately. However, I feel so connected to the people I am in the show with and the people I am helping.  I have a pen pal through CHIP (Children’s Hospital HIV Program), and we are corresponding through letters. My penpal is a 41 year old women who is HIV positive. It is really an amazing experience, and I feel blessed to be part of this project and show where I am making a difference.

SJP- Thank you for sharing! One last question, would you do it again?
TS Yes! As hard as it is in some respects, I feel really good about making a difference in so many lives.

Robin Jones

Robin Jones

Robin Jones

My next interview was with Robin Jones.  Robin has been part of the show for 4 years. She is not only mother to Luke and Chloe and wife to Kevin, but she works full time as the accounts manager for Luxwest Interior Designs, and she also works for Telluride Gymnastics and Crossfit.  As if that wasn’t enough, she also is the owner of Luxwest Home Management. WHEWWWW.

SJP-You have been doing this show for 4 years. What got you started and what keeps you coming back every year?
RJ Initially, it looked fun and it is! But I also got to know the organization and I believe in it.  Even though I am not a performer, there is not another volunteer opportunity around where you can have a ton of fun and make such a difference.

SJP- How is your home life during TAB?
RJ- My husband is a saint! He really supports me and what I am doing, and I could not do it without him or my friends.  This is a true community event, regardless of what anyone thinks.  I call my friends who are not in the show and ask if they can help with my kids for a few hours. The local waitress that is in the show is getting help from other servers that aren’t in the show to cover shifts.  Employers are helping out their employees by being patient, and the whole community is supportive.

SJP- Is there anything that you want people to know about TAB?
RJ- Fundraisers are not always clear on the beneficiaries, and sometimes you’re not sure how the money is spent. With TAB, it is clear and personal.  People assume that HIV and AIDS are not a problem anymore and they couldn’t be more wrong.  Did you know it takes $105  per day to keep an HIV positive person just status quo?  It is staggering, please please go to the website, go to the Trunk Shows, be more willing to give. This is more than just a night out.

Lisa Rutledge

Lisa Rutledge

Lisa Rutledge

When I first got the idea to interview some of the moms that were in the TAB show Lisa (mom to Logan & Dalton) was in the front of my mind, as she was in the show last year.  We happened to run into each other at a Fat Tuesday celebration in T-ride and I stuck my foot in my mouth when I asked, “Hey, are you in the show this year?” She smiled and politely said no, but that instead, she was volunteering.  I figured the “mom” thing had taken over and she was just unable to put forth the commitment.  I overheard her speaking to another friend and she said she did try out, but she did not make the cut.  It took me a while to process that piece of information, that she didn’t make the cut, but she was still volunteering. A few days later I got in touch with Lisa and asked if she would be willing to talk to me about her experience. She graciously said yes and  you are about to see what an amazing and inspiring person she is.

SJP- So, you tried out for the TAB Show, and you did not make it?
LR- No, I did not and I’m not sure why!  I have been in the show at least 5 or 6 times over the last 15 or so years.

SJP-Uhhh really??
LR- Yes, it has been hard but at the same time I feel very close to the cause and the show.  I am not sure what they were looking for this year, but I guess it was not me.

SJP- But you are volunteering?
LR- When I found out I did not make it, I wanted to run away and lick my wounds and I did for a couple of days.  I was pretty bummed that I did not make the show and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know why-it is a blow to your ego.  But at the same time, I can’t imagine not being part of TAB.  What TAB stands for and the education it brings to the community are very important to me. Did you see the student show? Amazing! I taught many of those kids and they were just awesome. I was so proud.  I decided I had to make a call to the volunteer coordinator and ask if I could help, in any way. Turns out that there was a job for me and I feel great about my job. It is not the job I thought I’d have in the show, but I am glad that I am able to help.

SJP- Wow- that is amazing, I am not sure if I could do what you are doing.  I mean, I think that is why I have never tried out- I would be afraid for someone to tell me no, not to mention for you to come back and say, can I help-give me a job. You are obviously very connected to the show and the cause!

LR-  Yes, I am!  TAB does an amazing job of keeping the public educated, they help so many people in Colorado and Africa.  It is really one of the best ways to volunteer, and you know you are making a difference.

SJP- You are inspiring!

Molly Wickwire Sante

Molly Wickwire Sante

Molly Wickwire Sante

Molly is the mom to twins Emmit and Amelie.

SJP- Wow, you have been doing the show for 10 years? That is amazing! How does it feel?
MWS- Good. It is so much fun! And it is really, really hard.  There is a crazy amount of pressure, but that is good-it makes you work harder.

SJP- Pressure? You mean to dedicate the time to the show?
MWS- Yes, that too. TAB Fashion Show is one of the biggest nights in Telluride.  People pay a lot of money to attend and you want to give them a good show, you want every year to be fresh, fun, amazing for everyone – for the audience and for the other people in the show.

SJP- Why do you think this is such a successful fundraiser?
MWS- I have been asked that many times.  I think if you could put your finger on 10 things that make a great fundraiser TAB has each of those, but it also has an 11th.  There is something magical about this number 11. The energy that the director, choreographers, models and the cause all together bring is unique and special.

SJP- What is it like being on stage at the end of a show?
MWS- Loud! This is different than performing in a play. The crowd gets really involved and they are so appreciative and it makes you feel great  that the audience truly loves the show, and that all the hard work has paid off. Definitely it is a great feeling.

SJP- Is there anything that you want people to know about TAB?
MWS- Being part of TAB is fun, it is a lot of fun. This most important part is that TAB helps people that are affected by this horrible, horrible disease. This disease is still affecting many people in the U.S. and Africa.  The money that is raised during the fashion shows and the Trunk Shows go directly to our beneficiaries.  They rely on this money and we are able to provide the immediate relief.

Thank you to these inspiring moms as well as each of the volunteers for TAB for all that you do!  Please visit www.aidsbenefit.org and see how you can help.

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Musicmama: One of musicmamas’s passions is music in all its forms. Based in Telluride and surrounded by excellent music, she is falling in love with new sounds every day.  When not immersed in the the music scene, she loves to hang out with her two kids and hubby.  Constantly surprised with what life brings to the table, the adventure continues with good music, food and family.

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musicmama

musicmama

Musicmama: One of musicmamas’s passions is music in all its forms. Based in Telluride and surrounded by excellent music, she is falling in love with new sounds every day. When not immersed in the the music scene, she loves to hang out with her two kids and hubby. Constantly surprised with what life brings to the table, the adventure continues with good music, food and family.

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