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Hijinks for heart health
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Hijinks for heart health

In 1948, Durango local Harry Silver organized a fundraiser for people unable to afford cardiac care. Silver pitched the idea of a La Plata County Heart Fund Drive to Fort Lewis College, whose students quickly adopted the philanthropic opportunity. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, FLC students gradually transformed a small donation drive into an event-filled extravaganza. Ultimately, the charitable hijinks became a college tradition, raising tens of thousands of dollars and laying the foundations for the next generation of Durango merrymaking.

As federal Medicare legislation filled needs formerly served by private and public charities, the Heart Fund Drive gradually dwindled in energy. Nearly 30 years after it began, the Heart Fund Drive’s zany activities were reconstituted into Durango’s premier winter celebration, Snowdown, which launched in 1979. Silver, a victim of heart disease himself, would be amazed how one person’s gesture of hope and generosity could have such a transformative effect on FLC and the entire Four Corners region.

An old-time black and white photo of two students taking sledgehammers to a vehicle.
Grand Slam Car Bash in the parking lot. Students Dell Ottinger and Olin Smith.
An old-time black and white photo of men in shorts and jerseys.
A pile-up of faculty and students during the Senate-Faculty Basketball Slugfest.
An old-time black and white photo of a man standing in front of a sign that says, Shalako Indian Club Heart Fund Drive.
Event participants, FLC’s Shalako Indian Club.
An old-time black and white photo of a male and female student collecting money from a man at his front door.
Door-to-door collecting by students Elaine Berry and George Walters. The Westerners Club raised over $200, walking Main Avenue with placards and money buckets.
An old-time black and white photo of a car driving up a winding road, with groups of people watching along the shoulders, and the Durango mountains and foothills in the background.
Front Hill Uphill Climb. A sleek Corvette rounds the main curve of the then-unpaved dirt road.
An old-time black and white photo of
Front Hill Downhill Bed Races. Westerners Club wins with a 5:41.00000007 time. *Note ropes attached to the front were the only brakes,
An old-time black and white photo of a student riding a bed on wheels, with two students pushing, and two student pulling it on ropes, with more competitors behind.
An ice heart sculpture made by Sheridan C Dormitory.
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