Heroes of Mental Health Luncheon Honors UCCS Professor
A record 600 people attended AspenPointe’s fifth annual Heroes of Mental Health luncheon Oct. 2 to honor Dr. Sara Qualls, The Kraemer Family Professor of Aging at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs as this year’s Hero of Mental Health.
The award recognizes those in Colorado Springs who champion whole-person wellness and spearhead efforts to curb stigma while advancing treatment for mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and joblessness.
Qualls, a member of the UCCS faculty since 1984, is the first UCCS faculty member to hold the Kraemer Family Professor of Aging Studies Professorship. She led efforts to establish a doctoral program in geropsychology at UCCS, one of only four such programs in the nation.
The event generated nearly $20,000 for an AspenPointe key fund-raising initiative, the construction of a geodesic dome. The dome would allow AspenPointe’s community garden to provide programming for clients and community year round and help to provide fresh, local produce for the AspenPointe Café throughout winter months.
Keynote speaker Ed Viesturs, one of the world’s premier mountain climbers and a noted author, spoke to those in attendance about the challenges he faced on his expeditions and challenged them to conquer their own “mountain tops.”
Viesturs has climbed the world’s 14 tallest peaks, including several summits of Mount Everest, without supplemental oxygen. He is the author of several books including “The Will to Climb” and “No Shortcuts to the Top.”
Previous award winners include Dr. Leanne Hadley, founder and president of First Steps Spiritual Center, Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter, U.S. Army Major General Mark and Carol Graham, and Barry Koch.
AspenPointe empowers clients, enriches lives and embraces purpose through behavioral health services, counseling services, career services, substance abuse treatments, employment, education, housing, jail diversion/reintegration and care management.
AspenPointe traces its roots in Colorado Springs to 1875 when the organization was called the Springs Relief Society. Now, Aspen Pointe has 12 organizations that serve more than 30,000 individuals and families annually.