Craig Dunham fulfilled a childhood dream when he moved to Evergreen 14 years ago.
“I was a fish out of water living in Nebraska,” says Dunham, who was born in that state. “My family vacationed in Colorado, and I loved those special times. When I graduated from college, I accepted the one and only position I applied for, which was in Denver.”
Married at the time he came to Colorado, Dunham brought his growing family to the mountains.
The ultimate Rocky Mountain high for Dunham was when he pedaled his bike on a 13-day trek from Denver to Durango.
“We’re blessed to live in God’s creation,” says Dunham, who like many took life for granted — until April 28, 2008, the day he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
ALS causes motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord to shrink and disappear, so that muscles no longer receive signals to move. Muscles become smaller and weaker, gradually paralyzing once-active bodies. However, at the advanced stage of ALS, people can still see, hear, smell and feel. ALS does not affect nerves that carry feelings of hot, cold, pain, pressure, or even being tickled. The parts of the brain that allow us to think, remember and learn are also not affected by the disease.
As an architect, Dunham creates plans that produce buildings of strength and beauty. He designed the El Rancho First Bank that nestles into its mountainscape, adding to the scenery of Evergreen Parkway. His structures symbolize strength and endurance.
As a creator of plans and a man who thrived in a healthy body, Dunham was mystified when he lost his equilibrium and coordination and it became a challenge to open a carton of milk.
“I was scheduled for my annual physical when I experienced these symptoms, and I told my doctor about my aunt, who was impacted and died of ALS. My MRI revealed abnormal activity, and a neurologist confirmed the diagnosis.”
Of all he has designed and created, Dunham is most proud of his children, Austin, Braxton and Benjamen.
“What thrills me most in life is spending time with my kids,” he says. His kids spend every other week with him.
While most parents are planning the futures of their children, Dunham is trying to plan his future to live near his kids for as long as possible.
“As the disease progresses, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to live alone, drive a car, and care for myself,” says Dunham, who is now using a walker and waiting for a specially designed wheelchair to arrive from the ALS Association. “I don’t know what my needs will be in the future, but I want to stay in Evergreen and be near my kids for as long as I can.”
On Saturday, March 21, from, 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Evergreen Elks Lodge, 27972 Iris Drive, the community will come together for the Craig Dunham FUNdraiser. Live music, dancing and raffle prizes, including trips to Winter Park and Breckenridge and a private, catered dinner in your home, will mark the evening. A silent auction is planned, as well as dinner.
Tickets, at $25, can be purchased at www.craigdunhamfund.com. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.