Photo by John F. Russell
Steamboat Springs resident Essam Welch is shown in 2008 riding his bike. Welch was involved in an accident in 2009 that put him in the hospital for a week. A fundraiser to help send Welch to the 2010 SingleSpeed World Championships in New Zealand is at 7 p.m. today.
If you go
What: Inaugural Gear Mashers Ball
When: 7 p.m. to midnight today
Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.
Cost: $10 suggested donation
To contribute: Donations to help send local cyclist Essam Welch to the SingleSpeed World Championships can be sent to Gear Mashers Ball, 3725 Lincoln Ave., Unit 43, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.
Two days before he was set to compete at the 2009 SingleSpeed World Championships in Durango, local cyclist Essam Welch was involved in a crash he describes as “a fluke.”
The accident broke several of the bones in his face and put him in the hospital for a week. Today, you wouldn’t know that by looking at Welch, who credits a Durango surgeon for the lack of permanent visible damage.
“He was able to construct my cheekbones and my eye sockets and bring it right back so that even my mom is surprised that there’s hardly a difference,” Welch said.
Welch’s injuries kept him from participating in the SingleSpeed race, a competition friend and co-worker J.R. Thompson said the rider would have done well in. The race changes location each year — in 2010, it happens to be in Rotorua, New Zealand.
At the inaugural Gear Mashers Ball at 7 p.m. today, Thompson said he hopes to bring the local cycling community together to help send Welch to the 2010 SingleSpeed World Championships.
“It’s not for his medical bills; he had good insurance,” Thompson said about the fundraiser. “It’s more the fact that he didn’t get to ride in this event. … We’re trying to let him finish what he started, so to speak.”
Thompson said he hopes the “common thread” of cycling will attract “all types of cyclists together, everybody from the BMX crowd to the road bike crowd to the free-ride crowd — even the recumbent crowd, for that matter” to today’s party.
The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Depot Art Center. A $10 suggested donation at the door offers admission and refreshments. A silent auction with items from about 50 local vendors goes until 10:30 p.m. A representative from Oskar Blues Brewery will be on hand with Colorado craft beer.
“I basically went to the community, and the support there was pretty amazing. A lot of that is the fact that people know Essam, and they know his love and passion for bikes,” Thompson said.
He hopes to make the Gear Mashers Ball an annual event, with proceeds each year going to a new story or cause chosen by the local cycling community.
Welch said he’s grateful to his friends for giving him the chance to travel to the Oct. 23 race in New Zealand. The race is “an event I would have dreamed of being able to participate in but wouldn’t have planned on my own,” he said.