What could get 200 people out of bed at 8:30 am on a frosty Sunday morning in October to a gated subdivision ten miles out of town, to line a mile of roads with their cars? The short answer is an estate sale to empty out a $2.5 million house that had been sold. And who’s house full of furniture and toys caused such excitement to sell? The short answer is Dr. Dana Shires. Dana Shires is a Florida MD specializing in kidney function. In his early years he was part of a research team that was asked to study why college football players ran out of steam in the middle of big games. In those days it was thought that people should not drink fluids during exercise. His team not only proved that people should drink during exercise, but studied sweat to provide a replacement fluid. The University of Florida turned down an offer to buy the formula for $10,000. Gatorade now sells $5 billion a year and the research team members have split over $1 billion in royalties. Dr. Shires and a partner use most of their share to fund the LifeLink Foundation, which harvests and provides organ transplants, including help for people who cannot afford them. And who put this sale together? The short answer is Kathy Connell. Kathy is a quiet person, but very capable. She is a Realtor, was president of the City Council, is Chair of the Colorado State Highway Commission, promoter of Steamboat Digs Dogs and a board member of the Yampa River Botanic Park. Dr. Shires was her client and when he sold his house in Steamboat Springs he asked Kathy to sell his furniture, Lexus, snowmobiles and ATVs, and donate the proceeds to her two favorite charities. So Steamboat Digs Dogs and the Yampa River Botanic Park get to split about $60,000. Thank you, Dr. Shires and Kathy Connell.
Beginning in 1995 the Yampa River Botanic Park sprang from a flat horse pasture to a six acre gem of ponds, berms, and over 50 gardens. It is one of the jewels of Northwest Colorado and one of a handful of botanic gardens in the State. The Park is on land donated to the City of Steamboat Springs. The facility is directed by a board of interested citizens who oversee the Park's operations and raise funds through memberships, donations, sponsorships and grants. The Park receives no tax dollars.
The Park is free and open to the public from the beginning of May through the end of October. It is a place to enjoy the flowers and the trees, a place to revel in Nature and a hideaway from the stress of modern life. It is a place for summer music festivals, a place for weddings and yoga and a resource to see native plants. The Yampa River starts at 12,000 feet in the Flattop mountains, 50 miles to the south, and empties into the Green River at 4,000 feet, 120 miles to the West, and eventually into the mighty Colorado. The Park sits at 6800 feet above sea level, but, through the use of microclimates designed into the Park, it supports both alpine plants and desert plants found in the Yampa River Basin.