Denver Catholic readers share stories from WYD ‘93

“I was very young during World Youth Day 93 — maybe five or six years old. I lived in a neighborhood adjacent to Cherry Creek State Park and remember the setup for the event. Driving on Belleview east along the park border, I remember seeing lines and lines of porta-potties, thinking that it was amazing to need so many toilets for all the folks who would be there. I remember my grandfather pointing to Butterfly Hill and saying, ‘That’s where the pope is going to be! He’s going to stand right there!’ My parents, sister and I lived with my grandfather in his small house, but its size didn’t stop my grandfather from being generous during the event. He had gone to King Soopers and started talking to a Canadian priest who was buying groceries. He had traveled in a conversion van to the event with his brother and brother’s friend. They didn’t have a place to stay and had just planned on camping or sleeping in the van. My grandfather opened our house to them, and they camped on our floor and couches for a couple of days. I don’t even remember the priest’s name, but I remember that they were very excited and happy to be welcomed in Denver for the event. I always think of them, and of the pope ‘standing right there!’ each time I drive down Belleview past the park.”
-Pearl Dailey, Centennial

“My husband and I both attended World Youth Day, as young Catholics in the metro area, but didn’t know each other at the time. I believe our both attending and the blessings of St. John Paul had a hand in bringing us together and continuing the faith in our family. St. John Paul has a lasting and profound impact in our lives.”
-Stephanie Danaher, Aurora

I remember my grandfather pointing to Butterfly Hill and saying, ‘That’s where the pope is going to be! He’s going to stand right there!’”

“World Youth Day 1993 was an unbelievable experience. I was thrilled to find out that the pope would be in “my own backyard,” [and] this experience helped fuel my young faith. As a 20-year-old, I didn’t know what to expect but I was open to whatever the Lord had in store for me. I was proud to be a part of this large gathering of Catholic young people and I was inspired to participate in four more world youth days. World Youth Day Denver helped inspire a love for pilgrimage and a respect for the universal church in all of her glory. However, before this love was developed I was able to participate in WYD ‘93 in Denver. At the time I was playing Rugby and occasionally attending classes at Metro state and at the pilgrimage mass, one of my buddies found me and he told me he had heard about the event on the news and he decided he had to come to see what it was all about. I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t even know that you were Catholic,’ but even if he wasn’t, he understood the importance of WYD and what it meant for us to be a host city. I attribute this directly to the dynamic leadership and connections to the youth that St. John Paul the Great had as our pope and as one of three saints to touch the streets of Denver (Mother Cabrini and Mother Teresa). We truly live in a sacred space that should not be taken for granted.  The beauty of the pope in my hometown, a love of my church, and pilgrimage, the beauty of my home city and a love for this fantastic saint are some of the bountiful gifts of WYD ‘93.”
-Tom Thomason, Denver

St. John Paul has a lasting and profound impact in our lives.”

“I was so excited to attend the Mass done by the Holy Father. I volunteered to take the overnight shift at Our Lady of Fatima to chaperone those youth that had traveled from all over the world to participate in World Youth Day. I had only had about 4 hours of sleep prior to this event due to my work & family schedule. I had the overnight shift the night before the Mass at Cherry Creek State Park. I left the church at 5 a.m. went home packed up my car, took my kids to their grandparents (they were very young) and headed to pick up a couple of people who also wanted to attend. I was going on pure love!!! Nothing was going to stop me from my one any only chance to attend a Mass done by a pope! Oh, how lucky I was to be there with the Great John Paul II. Even though I was nowhere near close to meeting him I was happy just to be in his presence as he shared our Lord with the thousands of other faithful.”
-Tamara Abad, Denver

“I remember arriving on the dewy grounds of Cherry Creek Reservoir before sunrise among crowds of other bundled-up worshippers. It was beautiful watching the sunrise and hearing the words of our Holy Father. As a keepsake of that memorable morning, I carried home a type of touchstone…one of the hundreds of groundstakes that were used to mark blocked off areas for people to sit while allowing walkways in the open field. Once home, I used my little craft saw to make individual crosses for myself and our sons. I still have mine 25 years later as my token from that spectacular morning.”
-Deb DesMarteau, Centennial

I was proud to be a part of this large gathering of Catholic young people and I was inspired to participate in four more world youth days.”

“My parents took me to WYD 1993 in Denver when I was nine years old. I had no idea what was really happening, but I could tell it was important and exciting. I remember the large crowds of people lining the streets, and I remember the gathering that we attended at McNichols arena. The place was packed and everybody was waiting for Pope John Paul II. I didn’t know who he was, but I will never forget when he entered the arena dressed in white and everybody started cheering. I even remember seeing tears in some people’s eyes. I asked my dad, ‘Who is that?’ And my dad bent down to me and said, ‘That’s the pope.’ I can still feel the power of that revelation of the Vicar of Christ echoing in my heart. In some mysterious way that moment is tied up in my vocation to the priesthood.”
-Father Ryan O’Neill, Vocations Director

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.