I had been pushed out of my comfort zone. Way out of it. While I yearned for sleek stilettos that would make that satisfying “click click” on polished granite floors, instead my grungy Adidas squeaked awkwardly as I made my way across the celebrity-strewn club level at Outward Bound’s annual Black Tie & Tennis Shoe event at Invesco Field at Mile High last Thursday.
I couldn’t help but envy the gentlemen, who looked at ease in tuxedos and sneakers. It is hard to rock a classy cocktail dress with running shoes, I thought. Although a few ladies wore high-heeled tennis shoes and others ignored the tennis shoe dress code altogether, the vast majority of female attendees were in the same boat as me – adorned in silk, sequins, and sneakers and looking mildly concerned that their legs might look more like sturdy tree trunks than shapely stems. Nonetheless, between bites of crème fraiche-topped Terra chips, bite-sized chile rellenos, and delicious pork potstickers, I overheard excited chatter about the novelty of comfortable feet at a black tie event.
But shoes weren’t the only outdoorsy elements at Outward Bound Denver’s 2011 Getting Kids on Course Gala. In addition to the inflatable climbing wall and complete camping set-up (including pitched tent, cooking area and unfurled sleeping bag), Coleman lanterns on banquet tables cast a cool Outward Bound blue on the entire evening. When I saw a carabiner bowtie and Camelbak being toted as a handbag, I realized that I could have worn my high heels and climbing rope belt, after all.
When I wasn’t fretting about my choice of footwear, I was listening to some of Denver’s biggest stars speak on behalf of Outward Bound. Ex-Broncos quarterback Brian Griese joked that although “you won’t see my photo up here on these walls” (at Invesco field at Mile High), “it wasn’t for lack of effort,” while Nuggets coach George Karl, on the cusp of the 2011 NBA playoffs, spoke about teamwork, making things better instead of complaining, and taking an Outward Bound-type journey to Oklahoma the following week.
By the end of the evening, I had managed to wiggle my way into a few star-studded photos, met a few Nuggets (Birdman, Raymond Felton and Gary Forbes), and I even got a glimpse of the fashionably late Ti Lawson! But far more important than my celebrity spottings or high-heel dilemmas was the fact that Outward Bound Denver’s 2011 Getting Kids on Course Gala raised more than $170,000 for the Denver scholarship program – every dollar of which will help provide students in need with transformative Outward Bound experiences. Well done, Outward Bound Denver – and thank you for throwing a fantastic party!
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