It would be safe to say that 2012 has not been Colorado’s year. Major fires have destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Estes Park, and Pueblo County, a massive shooting left 58 wounded and twelve dead, and a kidnapping murder gripped the nation and triggered many to wonder how much more this state could endure.
Through all of this, however, something positive did seem to emerge: a phrase, “Colorado strong”. High school senior, Taylor Edgin, furthered the expression, which started on social media, and turned it into a real way to help Coloradans.
On June 26 the flames of the Waldo Canyon Fire jumped into neighborhoods west of Colorado Springs. Edgin and her family were placed on mandatory evacuation. That night she began getting calls about friends who’s homes had burned down.
That night while Edgin and her family nervously watched the news, Edgin started noticing a trending hashtag on Twitter: #ColoradoStrong. This phrase gave her hope, and she realized it was giving other people hope too.
“Although I felt heartbroken and devastated that night, it was hard not to keep hope and stay strong as the entire city of Colorado Springs, and even people in other states, had been posting encouraging words left and right,” Edgin said.
This inspired Edgin to start a movement, appropriately called ColoradoStrong. The movement focuses on keeping Coloradans spirited and together during times of disaster, not just in Colorado Springs but also across the state.
The expression led Edgin to launch a Blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page all committed to keeping the Colorado community informed during disasters, Amber alerts, and other serious events.
“(The organization) was also my way to try to bring the community together and recognize all of the love we had for each other,” said Edgin.
Shortly after the fire had blazed over 200 homes, Edgin and her family decided something should be done to help the first responders. She designed wristbands similar to the LiveStrong bands that read ColoradoStrong and started selling them.
“I designed the wristbands to look like the fire and the Colorado flag, ordered them, and began selling them to raise money for the Waldo Canyon Firefighter’s Fund,” Edgin said.
Though it was coined during the fires that seemed to be sweeping through Colorado counties, the expression has become a way for Coloradans to come together after any kind of disaster Edgin explained.
After the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, ColoradoStrong committed two weeks of profits from the bracelets and t-shirts to the Westminster Police Department’s fund for Jessica’s family.
A special t-shirt design was also dedicated to Jessica. The shirts weren’t for sale, but given to classmates of Jessica as a way for them to honor Jessica.
Though ColoradoStrong has yet to become an official non-profit organization, Edgin said she is looking forward to growing the name and message.
“We would LOVE to help the community more and become a non-profit!” she added.
Edgin said she wants to grow the phrase so that everybody can see the love Coloradans have for each other and hopefully people in other states will feel the same way.
Besides putting the proceeds of the shirts and bracelets towards organizations in need of proceeds, ColoradoStrong makes an effort to aid other non-profits by helping promote their causes and events.
“I never in a million years thought I would get the responses I have from starting ColoradoStrong, and it is truly rewarding to know you have made a positive impact on the community,” Edgin said.
By Kara Mason