Learning the importance of community and giving back

Golden High seniors compete to benefit local nonprofits in The Golden One

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Back in the 1970s, the Golden Civic Foundation purchased a gas station located at 10th Street and Washington Avenue. It was sold to the city of Golden and eventually became today’s Golden Visitors Center.

The way the Golden Civic Foundation takes old buildings and gives them a new life inspired Liam Telgener, a senior at Golden High School, he said.

“Without this foundation, Golden wouldn’t be what it is today,” Telgener said, who added he has lived in Golden his whole life.

That is why Telgener chose the Golden Civic Foundation to be the nonprofit he competed for in this year’s The Golden One competition.

The Golden One is a fun event that commemorates a male student’s senior year and serves as an outlet for the competitors to give back to the community — contestants partner with a local charity and compete on its behalf.

The Golden One, put on by Golden High School’s student council, is in its second year, and took place on Dec. 4. The Golden One is the reincarnation of a former annual competition called Mr. Golden-Ridge, which was a male beauty pageant between Wheat Ridge and Golden high schools. The revamped The Golden One differs in that it is not a pageant, per se, but more of a competition with a focus on the nonprofit beneficiaries.

“They had to take all the initiative themselves,” said Rachel Kastelein, a world history teacher at Golden High School who also serves as the student council sponsor.

This means the contestants had to select the nonprofit on their own, Kastelein added, and take the time to learn about the nonprofit through interviews and/or volunteering.

“The Golden One gives the senior boys a great opportunity to understand the importance of community and giving back,” Kastelein said.

Adam Salindeho, one of the competitors, is a musician — he plays the ukulele, piano and guitar — and chose to compete on behalf of Coral Creek’s Kids Music Project. According to its website, the Golden-based nonprofit recognizes the lack of funding for music education in public schools and exists to provide the tools and training so all students in Colorado have access to the fundamentals of music and live performance events.

“Music has had a big impact on my life,” Salindeho said, “and I want to ensure that all kids have access to the musical instruments they have an interest in.”

The Golden One competition consisted of an opening act — a group dance performed by all contestants — and two rounds of competition. Round 1 was a Q&A during which contestants had to demonstrate knowledge and passion for their charity.

Round 2 was a talent/hobby showcase, which was quite an eclectic mix of performances, ranging from more traditional talents such as piano-playing and dance routines to odd performances of a pancake cookoff spoof and a stick horse rodeo.

This year featured 17 competitors, each representing a nonprofit.

The first-place winner’s charity received 65% of the ticketed event’s proceeds, and the second-place winner received 35%. This year’s first-place winner was Bobby Vermeulen on behalf of Robbie’s Hope, a local nonprofit that has a goal to cut teen suicide rates in half by 2028. Carter Thompson won second place, benefitting the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

Jaden Merriman wanted to compete on behalf of a nonprofit he was unfamiliar with so he could learn more about it, he said. He chose the Neighborhood Rehab Project — also widely known in the community as Be A Tool — after hearing about it through his friend’s father who works for a construction firm that partners with the organization.

“The overall idea of them helping people in need” was one reason he selected Neighborhood Rehab Project, Merriman said, “and it’s cool how they can rally the community together for a greater good.”

All of the contestants took the competition seriously, so regardless who wins, Merriman said prior to the competition, it benefits the greater Golden community.

“The Golden One is a great way to bring community awareness to all of the nonprofits represented,” Merriman said.

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