On Tuesday, April 6, Safeway officially launched its annual April fundraiser for people with developmental disabilities with its third annual “Media Bagging Challenge.” Designed for fun and to highlight the skills of their customer service team, the competition at Safeway matches metro Denver media personalities with some of their associates who are also clients of Easter Seals Colorado and Special Olympics Colorado as they pack groceries, tracking speed, efficiency, tender loving care, and the use of Safeway “green” bags
The event took place at the Safeway store at 14th Avenue and Krameria with an introduction by Scott Grimmett, Vice President of Safeway’s Denver division who recognized their other partners for this event, Core Bank and Food Bank of the Rockies, recipient of all the $1000 worth of food used during the bagging challenge. Other Safeway executives then took the lead, rallying the crowd and introducing the “teams” to music and fanfare.
9News celebrity, Gregg Moss and partner Erin Holloway took first place, a great victory for this team that has placed second two years in a row. Moss teased that he left 9News briefly last year “in humiliation” at not having won the bagging challenge. “Thank goodness I came back,” he quipped. Holloway is the first Colorado athlete to have placed in the Special Olympics Hall of Fame, having won hundreds of medals in competitions throughout the state and worldwide during her thirty year tenure as a Special Olympian. She has worked at Safeway stores for twenty years and now works at the store in Happy Canyon.
Other celebrities included Super Bowl champion Mark Schlereth who partnered with Safeway’s Justin Fields, Special Olympian, for a second place victory. Schlereth’s “Stinkin’ Green Chile” was one of the products used in the challenge. Denver Post’s Claire Martin took third place with Jerry Furman. News 2/Fox 31 reporter and previous champion, Greg Nieto, and his partner, Scott Manning; Scott’s twin brother, Eric, partnered with KMGH 7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber; and, KOSI’s Murphy Huston with Safeway’s Hannah Lowther rounded out the field of competitors. Lowther, who works in the Golden Safeway, became a local celebrity a few years ago as she was the face of the “I’m Different” campaign, celebrating people with intellectual disabilities. She is a client of Easter Seals Colorado.
Lynn Robinson, President of Easter Seals Colorado, expressed gratitude at being one of Safeway’s preferred charities with so much competition in Colorado. “Because of Safeway and its employees, we are winners!” Jerry Hamill, Vice President of Development at Special Olympics Colorado, reminded everyone that Special Olympics is “so much more than athletic competition. It changes the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and ultimately brings so much to all of us.”
Last year’s Safeway April local fundraising brought in nearly $700,000. All the funds raised in Colorado stay in Colorado. Safeway stores in Colorado employ over 400 employees with developmental disabilities. Safeway employees are asking shoppers at the checkout stands if they would like to donate to the organizations that support people with developmental disabilities throughout the month of April.
Kathryn writesand speaks about disabilities, mobility and independence, healthy aging and caregiving in a variety of venues. Contact for inquiries and to suggest future events and topics. Select "subscribe" to receive her articles on a regular basis.