After losing his home, Grand Lake Citizen of the Year continued to show ’magical’ commitment
After Sam Eberly lost his home in the East Troublesome Fire, one of his biggest concerns was for the charity he aids.
Eberly serves on a committee of three for Taking Steps for Cancer, which annually raises more than $100,000 to assist Grand County residents who have cancer.
In his garage were many of the materials used in the fundraisers: signs of those battling or lost to cancer on display along the 5K course, donated towels for the annual Polar Plunge and much more — all lost to the fire.
“That really hurts,” Eberly recalled.
This compassion, even as he faced his own hardship, was a big reason why Eberly was selected as Grand Lake Citizen of the Year for 2020.
“Even experiencing his own great loss this past October, he called me weeks later very concerned about the loss of inventory for Taking Steps for Cancer items that were stored at his Grand Lake home,” reads Eberly’s nomination. “While I’m sitting there listening, thinking of what he and (his wife) had just endured with the East Troublesome Fire and, yet again, here was a man more concerned about something else.”
Eberly and his wife, Judy, began visiting Grand Lake in the ‘80s for the snowmobiling. They bought a house in the area in 1995 and were living here full time when they lost their home this October.
The couple has long been interested in volunteer work and helped out for years with cancer walks in Grand Lake. Eberly especially enjoys auction work, which is what got him interested in the fundraisers.
“Of course, once you start the project, then other things come up and you have to get involved in other ways,” Eberly said.
Eberly was a big part of the search to find an institution in Grand that could manage the money raised for local cancer patients, which is what began the relationship between Taking Steps for Cancer and the Mountain Family Center.
“Sam has taken an extremely active role in this fundraising for seven years,” his nomination added. “This has been especially important in 2020, when our fundraising opportunities were limited due to the COVID-19 virus.”
Also because of the pandemic, the Grand Lake Rotary Club couldn’t host the annual banquet that celebrates the citizen of the year. Instead, Eberly was honored this month during a Grand Lake Board of Trustees meeting.
“I have known some people who have gotten that award prior to this time,” Eberly said. “There at the ceremony when they started reading some 30 different names that the Rotary had given this award to, I thought ‘My gosh, I don’t deserve this.’”
Eberly stressed that it was an honor to be a part of that notable group. While he may have felt undeserving, those honoring Eberly emphasized his selfless work even through personal adversity.
The nomination highlighted Eberly’s “positive resilience,” and Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron, who presented Eberly the award, said he was more than deserving of it.
“It was a great honor to present Sam with the Citizen of the Year award,” Kudron said. “I’ve known Sam since I’ve been in town over the last 10 years, and his passion for giving to the community, being a kind fellow and being there whenever someone needs him has been magical.”
Eberly and his wife plan to stay and rebuild their Grand Lake home.
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A project that the Grand Fire Protection District has planned for since 2004 could begin soon.