Steamboat Springs Jim Lambert simply wanted to help his friend Mike Kirlan preserve the memory of his son, and he had just the tools to do it.
Lambert got to know Kirlan when their sons, Shane and Asher, would compete in Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club jumping events at Howelsen Hill where Lambert and Kirlan would call out starting names and jump scores together.
The fathers and their sons became close, so when 9-year-old Asher was killed less than six months ago, Lambert wanted to do his part to help his friend and grieving father ensure Asher's name and face wouldn’t be forgotten.
Shortly after Asher died, the donations began pouring in to Soda Creek Elementary School, where he was a third-grader. The school used the donations to purchase 25 guitars, an instrument Asher loved.
On the guitars’ headstocks is a "Play it for Asher!” emblem designed and put there by Lambert. The emblems were paid for by Soda Creek, and Lambert was told the school also had enough money for one guitar stand.
Lambert said he and his wife went home and looked into the stand the school planned to buy for $1,000. As a craftsman, Lambert wasn’t satisfied with the stand that was pieced together with particle board and lamination.
Like Asher’s father, Lambert still is grieving Asher's death, so he brought Soda Creek a proposal of his own.
“So I said, ‘OK, if you just give me the money for the materials, I will donate my time and build them,’” he said.
Lambert built two stands, one for Soda Creek and one for Strawberry Park Elementary School, which wasn’t slated to get one of the stands until Lambert’s offer.
Lambert, a retired systems engineer, has all the necessary woodworking equipment. Using a modified blueprint of the originally proposed guitar stand, Lambert crafted the two stands in about 100 hours each. Part of the frame is walnut, a dark, strong wood. The lighter-colored wood is alder, hand-picked by Lambert for its engraving ability.
On the alder is an engraved photo of Asher sitting cross-legged, guitar in hand. Below Asher’s portrait are the etched-in names of more than two dozen donors who pitched in to help keep Asher’s memory everlasting inside the two elementary schools’ music rooms.
“The one thing (Mike Kirlan) really wants is for people to not forget Asher,” Lambert said. “So having the picture there, it meant a lot to him.”
Lambert said Kirlan, who lives in Denver, plans to come to Soda Creek’s spring concert, where he will see the guitar stand in person, likely for the first time.
The large, heavy stands weren’t easy to deliver. Equipped with heavy-duty wheels, Lambert pushed Soda Creek’s down the street to the building that's not far from his house. Strawberry Park’s was disassembled and delivered Thursday.
A month’s worth of work went into the two stands, but Lambert isn’t concerned with that. Helping his friend and making sure Asher’s name stays in Steamboat schools was the motivation.
“It was a tough project, but I’m glad I did it,” Lambert said.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll
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