DENVER — As far as Dalton Risner knows, his beloved small hometown of Wiggins, Colorado, has not been hit hard by the novel coronavirus.
But his new home of Denver has.
Across Denver County, there have been more than 6,000 cases and 300 deaths, and so many others have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, those who face food insecurity have been under particular duress. Organizations that work to provide meals now face an increased need for supplies and fund.
To that end, Dalton Risner took part in a radiothon fundraiser on KOA on May 7 and raised more than $16,000 for three organizations: Food Bank of the Rockies, Volunteers of America's Meals on Wheels program and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. On Monday, June 1, he presented each organization with more than $5,000 each from his RisnerUp Foundation.
"We wanted a way to help out and we knew that there was a lot of companies like Food Bank of the Rockies, like Meals on Wheels, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, that are doing such great things for families in need, and those families are in even more dire need with COVID-19 going on," Risner said. "One, we wanted to help those people out. We wanted to [make] a positive impact in the Denver community, as well as RisnerUp — we wanted to do something special and … do something great with their money. All around, it's just a win-win for everybody. We just wanted to help, and it was so awesome to have so much support from the Denver community to be able to donate $16,000 between three charities."
As he presented a check to a representative from the food bank, you couldn't tell Risner's expression underneath his protective mask, but you could tell he was proud. After starting his foundation, this donation marked a big step.
"This radiothon was probably the biggest fundraiser that we've done, and that's my dream," Risner said. "Obviously, as a kid you daydream about playing in the stadium, but another daydream that I have and dreams I have with my foundation as I get older is being able to donate money like this to big organizations and actually make a real impact. Sometimes a call to certain kids makes a huge impact, but even more importantly than that, we want to actually make real impacts — help kids get meals, help families have meals — which is what we did with the radiothon, and that meant so much. I hope to see the foundation grow and grow as we stay here in Denver."
Risner, of course, is looking forward to an eventual return to normalcy. An eager volunteer for events in the community, Risner said he misses the face-to-face contact.
"It's been very challenging," Risner said. "With most of the community service that you do, the impact that you have is actually to be around the kids, actually be able to spread your words, spread your testimony, whatever it is — make your impact. But when it's virtual, it's a lot harder to do that. We're doing all we can. We've done virtual visits with Children's Hospital [Colorado], doing a lot with the RisnerUp Foundation in terms of staying in touch with Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs and stuff like that.
"But you've just got to make the biggest impact you can with what's going on. Everyone's facing these battles; we all have to stay home for a while. Things are looking up; we're able to get out more, and we're looking forward to getting back out in the Denver community and getting face-to-face and working hands-on with the community and the RisnerUp Foundation."