Week 5: Brett at Sts. Peter and Paul in Wheat Ridge

Smart kids and chivalry

Two young adults—Brett Baeverstad and Summer Swisher—who are working as teachers in the youth summer program Totus Tuus being offered at parishes across the Denver Archdiocese, are writing a weekly blog about their experiences for the Denver Catholic Register. The week five column by Baeverstad is below.

Coming back from our June 30-July4 break, my Totus Tuus team was sent to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Wheat Ridge. This happened to be the home parish of one our team members. Sts. Peter and Paul provided an excellent community in order to help us get back into the routine of Totus Tuus.

During our day program, the kids were a joy to be around. They were all very well catechized, which made our job as teachers much more exciting because we were able to go more in depth in our classes to challenge the kids. I was so surprised when on the first day of the week the first- and second-graders were able to list every single commandment before we had begun to talk about them. When we realized how well developed these kids already were in their knowledge of the faith, we enjoyed the opportunity to go far beyond the basics of the Totus Tuus program.

On top of being smart, these kids also understood the importance of living out their faith. One moment in particular stands out when thinking about this. Every day after Mass, the girls are excused first to go to lunch and the boys stay behind for a time we call “Man Cave.” During this time, we teach the boys about the importance of respecting women. We usually challenge them to throw away a girl’s trash from lunch or to hold open doors for them as a practical way to understand this concept. On July 9, during our snack time, a bunch of the boys ran to the front of the line. One of them, however, realized the girls should be going first and he stopped and yelled: “Guys, remember what the teacher said? We are supposed to be soldiers and let the ladies go first!” This small experience was impressive and showed that the kids really wanted to be the best they could be.

Our night program was also a good experience. The group of teens was very close to each other and involved in the youth ministry program. This allowed us Totus Tuus teachers to come in and hit the ground running. From the first night, our discussions and interactions with the group were phenomenal. The teens were also open to being challenged. We had one guy who showed up at the beginning of the week who said: “What is the big deal about Jesus? He is just a guy with long hair.” However, this boy kept coming back and asking questions. By the end of the week, we could see the new joy the kid had found in his faith and saw him wanting to pursue a relationship with our Lord.

Sts. Peter and Paul was a wonderful parish to be at and we were blessed to be there for a week. We are excited to see what the next parishes will hold for us and what the Lord has planned.

Brett Baeverstad is a native of Fort Collins who is studying biomedical engineering at Colorado State University. This is his first summer teaching Totus Tuus. When he’s not studying, he enjoys spending time on the golf course, shooting hoops, skiing and doing anything outside where he can enjoy beautiful Colorado.


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

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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.