Horizons Special Services client Mark Leftwich (left) and Colorado Mountain College student Tiffany Russell, right, enjoyed the Valentine’s Dance at CMC on Feb. 11.

Photo by Tom Ross

Horizons Special Services client Mark Leftwich (left) and Colorado Mountain College student Tiffany Russell, right, enjoyed the Valentine’s Dance at CMC on Feb. 11.

A New Horizon: Steamboat’s ‘love affair’ with Horizons Specialized Services

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— Dance fever took over the auditorium on the Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus on Feb. 11 as a conga line of laughing men and women snaked across the floor. But this wasn’t just any dormitory mixer.

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Horizons counselor Scott Larson, left, and Alyessa Yeagher, twist and shout at the Horizons Valentine’s Dance.

The dancers, whipped on by the efforts of disc jockey Geoff Rolls, were a mix of CMC students and young adults with cognitive and adaptive disabilities served by the nonprofit Horizons Specialized Services.

It’s not an exaggeration to predict that the Horizons Valentine’s Dance is likely to be remembered as one of the liveliest parties of 2014. But it also was an example of a growing bond between the college and this special segment of the Steamboat community.

“It’s important to all of them, and it’s important to me that they have fun,” CMC student and residence hall president Jamie Hurwitz said.

And yes, there was genuine affection in the air at the Valentine’s Dance.

One had to look no further than Alyessa Yeagher in her wheelchair dancing with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Horizons counselor Scott Larson to recognize it.

Horizons volunteer coordinator Tommy Larson, who formerly organized student activities at the college, said what made the event even more special was that members of the student body stayed after dinner to join in the dancing.

The voters of Steamboat Springs also embraced Horizons wholeheartedly in November 2005 when they voted by a significant margin to approve a 1-mill property tax. Voters approved it with the foreknowledge that it would cost homeowners about $8 per $100,000 of property tax valuation and commercial property owners $28 per $100,000 each year.

Horizons Board President Bob Grover, who does not have a family member served by Horizons nor a relative with developmental disabilities, said the way the community has supported Horizons is a big reason why he settled here.

“This is a town with a huge heart,” Grover said. “You seldom see this in a larger city. It’s just so fun to be involved.”

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