Denver man, 71, who joined Army as a teen finally gets his high school diploma

A young David Shuker dodged bullets and helped East Germans escape communism at the hottest spot of the Cold War. But all the while, Shuker still pined over what he was missing back home at Abraham Lincoln High School.

“When I left and went into the service, I was thinking ‘What have I done?” said Shuker, now 71. “I did not get to go to the senior prom. I didn’t get my letter jacket.”

“But the thing I missed the most of all was these kids I grew up with,” Shuker added. “I didn’t get to walk down the aisle with them to graduate.”

The white-haired Shuker gets to re-write some of his missing history June 1, when he strides across the commencement stage at the University of Denver-Ritchie Center, wearing a robe and mortarboard, and becomes a proud Abraham Lincoln Lancer graduate. He’ll even be escorted by Lincoln High’s Junior ROTC squad.

Shuker got his GED when he was in the Army in the early 1960s. But the actual paper diploma is a special token that Shuker wishes his mom could see.

“Above all else, she wanted me to graduate from high school,” Shuker said. “Oh man, I wish she could see me.”

At least some of his old classmates can bear witness. A front row of chairs is being set aside for his friends and family at the commencement and he is throwing a graduation party June 3.

“Everybody can come,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

The school even made a special commencement invitation for Shuker, changing the Class of 2017 to the Class of 1964.

“We wanted to make this special for not only Mr. Shuker but also the students at the school,” said Alex Renteria, spokeswoman for Denver Public Schools. “Here is a man who gave up a chance to get his high school diploma to serve his country. And even after all this time, his high school graduation is something he wants more than anything.”

“I think kids need to see that,” she said.

Shuker is getting his high school diploma through Operation Recognition, a national program that awards diplomas to qualified World War II, Korea and Vietnam era veterans. It is offered locally by the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Association of School Boards.

“One day these individuals were carrying textbooks and the next they were carrying weapons in order to protect our nation and preserve our freedom,” said Renteria. “The sacrifices they made changed their lives and teenage experiences and, in turn, made ours better.”

Shuker grew up in Denver and began attending Lincoln High as a sophomore in 1961. But problems with this stepfather drove him to join the Army after his junior year. That and a family history of military service.

“Just about my whole family was in the military at one time or another,” said Shuker. “I guess I wanted to be a hero too.”

Because he was 17, Shuker’s mom had to release him to the Army. He trained to be a mechanic to repair tanks and Jeeps.

A few days after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, he was shipped to Munich, Germany, to help patrol the Berlin Wall. “Those were tense times and scary, especially for a young kid,” Shuker said.

His Jeep patrol was shot at several times by grey-suited Russian soldiers but Shuker, who manned a M-60 machine gun, couldn’t shoot back. “They said that would start an international incident,” he said.

The East German soldiers were much friendlier and talked to the Americans a lot. One East German in particular begged to be taken over to West Germany.

“So a bunch of us just grabbed him and drug him over the wall,” Shuker said.

After four years, Shuker knew he didn’t want to make a career out of the Army. He returned to Denver, married his high school sweetheart and started working as a mechanic. He later joined the U.S Postal Service and retired in 2001.

He never considered going back to high school when he was younger. “I was just 20 when I got out of the Army, but I was a changed person by then and I had other things in mind and decided to move on with my life,” he said.

But last year Shuker heard about Operation Recognition and realized how much he coveted an actual diploma from Lincoln High. He contacted the school and arrangements were made.

“All this time I wanted this,” Shuker said. “I wanted that diploma. To get this is another world to me.”

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Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

DENVER – Colorado’s system of community colleges is a great way for many students to explore an education closer to home and at a lower cost.

The two-year schools award more than 9,000 degrees and certificates each year in Colorado.

Bestcolleges.com recently studied our state’s community colleges, looking at parameters like graduation rates, program offerings and tuition costs, and ranked the best of the best.

Here are Colorado’s 10 best community colleges, according to Bestcolleges.com:

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The Colorado state track and field championships at Jeffco Stadium have been postponed due to inclement weather, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced Thursday.

The meet, which was supposed to begin Thursday and go through Saturday, is now a two-day event that will run Saturday and Sunday. There will be no preliminaries; running events will all be timed finals, while field athletes have four finals attempts.

“This snow came earlier than any forecast we’d seen,” CHSAA assistant commissioner Jenn Roberts-Uhlig told CHSAANow.com.

The National Weather Service said a mix of rain and snow, heavy at times, is expected along the Front Range on Thursday and Friday, with 2 to 4 inches of accumulation possible in the Denver area.

The decision was made Thursday morning after the track meet’s committee met at Jeffco Stadium and surveyed the conditions, finding snow covering the infield, according to a report on CHSAANow.com. Meet officials deemed the conditions unsafe for competition.

The state swimming meets are also on as scheduled this Friday and Saturday, as are the Class 5A and Class 4A boys lacrosse finals at Sports Authority Field on Friday night.

It’s only getting worse at state track. #copreps pic.twitter.com/wBEyMyA1FH

State baseball playoff games scheduled for Friday and Saturday have been postponed due to poor field conditions in Class 2A through Class 5A.

In 5A, the tournament were moved to Sunday and Monday, with times and locations the same.

The Class 2A will be held in Pueblo on Saturday. while 3A and 4A tournaments will be played Monday and Tuesday.

The Class 1A title game between Holly and Nucla is still on to be played on Saturday at Metro State.

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9NEWS Broncos Insider Mike Klis answers questions pulled from the Broncos Mailbag.

Do you have a question? Email Mike.Klis@9NEWS.com!

Why, after last year’s awful run defense and when every other position on the team received attention and new competitive blood was no effort made to improve the inside linebacker position?

I just don’t think we are close to be good enough in this position to “stand pat.”

Why, no money? No possibility in finding better talent? Really?

–John Christensen

John—The Broncos’ No. 1 run-stopping inside linebacker is Todd Davis. He does not miss tackles. The No. 2 inside linebacker against the run is Zaire Anderson. The third-best inside linebacker against the run is Brandon Marshall. The fourth-best is Corey Nelson.

Marshall is the best overall linebacker because he also has the speed to stay with running backs and tight ends in coverage. He plays in both the base and sub packages. A three-down linebacker, which is why he got a four-year, $32 million extension last year.

Davis and Anderson play at the same “Mike” linebacker position. Davis comes off the field in sub packages as he’s not strong in coverage, and Anderson doesn’t play much at all because he’s behind Davis.

Last season, Marshall missed five games because of a recurring hamstring strain and was limited in several other games because of the injury. So the Broncos often had Davis, their first-best run stopper, and Nelson, their fourth-best, out there. In sub packages, which the Broncos use at least 60 percent of the time, Nelson was the only linebacker out there. Nelson is the Broncos’ fastest linebacker. He’s terrific in coverage. But because he’s a smaller linebacker, run-stopping is not his strength.

The Broncos retained Davis, a restricted free agent, with a $2.746 million tender this offseason. Marshall has a $2.5 million guaranteed salary after receiving a $10 million signing bonus last year.

The Broncos, thus, have already heavily invested in their inside linebackers. The key to getting better run defense from the position this year is keeping Marshall healthy. And getting bigger, stronger defensive linemen up front so they keep the blockers off Davis and Marshall.

My question is: If C.J. Anderson gets injured/underperforms this season, do the Broncos think about moving on?

Thanks for always keeping us fans up to date!

-Christian Wilson

Christian—This is somewhat of an unfair question to Anderson as the answer would be true to all players. The short answer to your question is, yes. If Anderson is injured or underperforms this season, the Broncos would consider moving on. Anderson is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2018 and 2019, but none of that money is guaranteed.

But take out Anderson from your question and fill in the name of any other Broncos player and if one of them is injured or underperforms in 2017, that player is in danger of not returning in 2018.

Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos rushes the football against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field. The Broncos defeated the Patriots 20-18. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With two possible exceptions: Von Miller and Ron Leary. If 2017 isn’t his year, Miller is still coming back in 2018 as he’s already guaranteed to draw $19 million next season in salary and workout bonus. Leary is guaranteed to make $8 million next year in salary and bonuses.

As for Anderson, he’s guaranteed to make $3 million this season. He’s still the favorite to be the Broncos’ top tailback. The Broncos brought in the great Jamaal Charles but because of his knee injuries, I’d put his chances of making the season-opening roster at 50-50.

His low-guarantee, one-year minimum contract with heavy incentives suggests doubts as to whether he can make it — but it’s a risk worth taking.

Devontae Booker, in his second year, and De’Angelo Henderson, in his first, will get a chance to emerge as a surprise. If Charles proves healthy, Booker and Henderson may well compete for that game-day No. 3 running back slot. There won’t be four game-day tailbacks as the Broncos are expected to continue to use fullback Andy Janovich with Juwan Thompson again bringing his tailback-fullback versatility to the competition.

You are an outstanding reporter. Loved your session with the Bronco rookies.

But I have a nagging question which I am sure you can find an answer.

Why is it still "Sports Authority Field" when that ship has sailed?

G. Pen

Plainfield, Illinois

G.—Thank you. Thank you, very much. No doubt, the Broncos, the Denver Metropolitan Stadium District and an estimated 2,400 Colorado employees got burned when the former Englewood-based sports retailer officially went belly-up in March, 2016.

The Broncos were forced to play one season at soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High in 2016 and considering their first home preseason game is three months away, there’s a chance the ghost company will adorn their home stadium for at least part of this season, too.

The Broncos are trying to secure a new name. The team and the stadium district are working in conjunction with the WME-IMG marketing group to secure a naming rights deal. They have received multiple proposals.

The Sports Authority deal was worth roughly $6 million a year, split evenly between the Broncos and the Stadium District. I would be surprised if the new deal isn’t worth at least $10 million.

Teams say naming rights deals are vital because they fund stadium upgrades.

Much as the Broncos would have liked to have torn down the Sports Authority name yesterday, they also don’t want to rush into a deal with a company that could wind up becoming the next Sport Authority in a few years.

The Broncos were 32-6 at home in the final four years Sports Authority was a viable company; 5-3 at home last year after the retailer filed bankruptcy. No perhaps the Peyton Manning Effect had something to do with this. But it was a shame the “Home of the World Champions” carried the name of a defunct company.

© 2017 KUSA-TV

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The death of a Texas mother who fell from a Ski Granby Ranch chairlift last year has prompted state inspectors to recommend changes to lift systems across Colorado and mull taking regulatory steps to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Larry Smith, Colorado’s chief chairlift inspector, says he is working with resorts and colleagues across the country and beyond — who are keeping close tabs on how the state moves forward — to share what has been gleaned from investigations into the accident.

He said the possible changes to the state’s chairlifts will be small and ones that riders likely won’t notice, but that drastically reduce the chances of another improbable death like 40-year-old Kelly Huber’s.

“The chances of that occurring again are extremely small without making any changes,” Smith said in an interview Monday with The Denver Post. “But now that we’ve learned from that and go forward and make the changes, it’s going to reduce that probability again to the point where it hopefully doesn’t ever occur again.”

Smith said the complex set of circumstances — mechanics, electronics, lift design and chair load — that lined up to lead a chair carrying Huber and her two young daughters to hit a tower were so rare the probability was “like getting hit by lightning inside a building.” However, alterations to old lifts and requirements for new lifts moving forward should keep them from lining up again.

Mainly, the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board and Smith are looking to implement a system that creates a delay between when lift operators slow and accelerate a chairlift’s speed. That should eliminate or dampen so-called dynamics in a lift’s line that can make a chair dramatically bounce up and down and sway side to side.

Quickdraw Express at Ski Granby Ranch.

“It’s easy to make the changes in the control system and put the delays in,” Smith said. “It’s not expensive, it’s something that we can do and it takes care of all the potential problems with other lifts.”

State investigators have blamed the Ski Granby Ranch’s drive control system as the main culprit in the events leading up to Huber’s death on Dec. 29, 2016. Also contributing to the accident, however, were speed input changes made by an operator who was following normal procedure that sent more energy into the cable.

When the energy from the accelerations and decelerations reached the lightly loaded chair carrying Huber and her daughters — combined with several other factors that day — it caused the chair to bank at a 40-degree angle just at the time it was passing a tower.

“It is unfortunate that Mrs. Huber was in the chair at that particular time,” Smith said. “When you think of the swing of the chair, that tower is only is about 30 inches in diameter, that her swing at that particular time was such that it caught the tower. It’s like getting hit by lightning inside a building. What are the odds of that?”

Investigators say that had the chair carrying Huber not been near the lift tower, the swaying would have simply dissipated.

A Ski Granby Ranch ski patroller wrote in an incident report that he was on a chair just in front of Huber and her girls. He said he heard a rumble on the lift’s line and that he felt the “largest vertical motion I had ever felt in a line” as he grabbed the side of his chair.

The patroller looked back to see Huber and the girls falling to the ground. “The mother was visibly holding one of the children in what appeared to be an attempt to protect the child from the impact of landing,” he wrote.

Adding seconds-long delays when an operator makes speed-change inputs, Smith says, should cancel out those conditions.

“You can’t put any more energy into the cable. For that eight or 10 seconds, or 12 seconds, it runs at a constant state and the dynamics dampen out,” Smith said of how the delay system would work. “You don’t notice that it’s happening when you ride, but engineering- and physics-wise, that’s what occurs.”

The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board is set to consider adding a requirement for the delay system, as well as other regulations. Officials say they are also planning to bring their findings to the American National Standards Institute, which creates guidelines for chairlift safety and inspections across the U.S.

Investigators, in a final report on Huber’s death released last week, made 10 total recommendations in light of their findings, mainly that chairlifts undergo more detailed testing to include different simulated load parameters. Investigators also urged installation of a “black box” on all chairlifts that can record stops, starts and speed changes.

State investigators found recent changes to a control system on the Quickdraw Express, high-speed detachable lift and rapid speed changes made by an operator were the main reasons chair 58 carrying Huber and her daughters slammed into a lift tower, throwing them 25 feet to the ground.

Huber was pronounced dead the day of the fall at Middle Park Medical Center in Granby. Her daughters were taken to hospitals for care. Huber, who lived in San Antonio, was vacationing in Colorado.

Huber’s death was the first in a Colorado chairlift fall since 2002 and the first from a chairlift malfunction in the U.S. since 1993.

On Thursday, Granby Ranch officials said they were reviewing the report. “This is a 151-page report that deserves careful review. Granby Ranch continues to comply with all Tramway Board directives. We would again like to offer our condolences to the Huber family for their loss. Granby Ranch is committed to the health and safety of its guests.”

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Denver Pioneers face-off specialist Trevor Baptiste #9 heads down field with the ball after a face-off against Air Force Falcons Trent Harper #33 in the first quarter in the first round of the NCAA playoffs at Peter Barton Stadium May 13, 2017 in Denver.

Tewaaraton Award finalist Trevor Baptiste proved Saturday why he could become the first faceoff specialist to be named NCAA men’s lacrosse player of the year.

The Denver Pioneers’ junior, who became one of five Tewaaraton finalists Thursday, was the dominant force in the first-ever, all-Colorado NCAA Tournament game at sold-out Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

Against Air Force on a beautiful afternoon, Baptiste was 23-of-27 in draws and scored twice off wins in leading DU to a 17-10 victory and a trip to next week’s Elite Eight.

The Pioneers (12-3), who dominated possession because Babtiste and excellent team ball control, will play Notre Dame or Marquette at the May 20 quarterfinals in Hempstead, N.Y.

Notre Dame hosts Marquette in a first-round game Sunday in South Bend, Ind.

Air Force, which was making its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, finishes 12-6.

Babtiste was nine-of-11 in faceoffs in the first half and won the first five to begin the third quarter, scoring off two of them. The Pioneers scored seven times in the third, getting a combined four goals from Babtiste and senior attack Connor Cannizzaro.

DU led 6-3 at halftime on the strength of Austin French’s two goals and three points. Air Force struck first but midfielder Max Planning tied it and French added consecutive goals for a 3-1 DU lead at the 4:48 mark of the first quarter. Three different scorers struck for the Pioneers in the second period and Air Force was limited to just one goal and outshot 23-5 for the half.

The Falcons, however, remained within striking distance because three of their four shots on net got behind goalie Alex Ready, who had just one save in the half.

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RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file The new University of Colorado A-Line train crosses Holly Street along Smith Road on its way the airport, May 10, 2016.

Shuttle buses are being used to transport University of Colorado A-Line riders after delays caused by a power outage, RTD said Thursday morning.

Service is severely delayed and eastbound and westbound passengers are being shuttled to stops between Central Park in the Stapleton neighborhood and Denver International Airport, RTD said in a news release.

RTD also tweeted that a bus and emergency crews were in route to assist passengers stuck on the train near Chambers Crossing.

@RideRTD Your crew is moving around with no urgency laughing and taking pictures!!! We’ve ALl missed our flights!!!!

Train service is in place between Denver Union and Central Park stations.

“Please allow for extra travel time,” RTD says.

Donald Burnes, founder of the University of Denver’s Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

It’s a pretty widespread idea and one for which it’s not hard to find anecdotal evidence. This would be the idea that Colorado in general and Denver in particular have gone to pot, with hordes of homeless people flocking to the state to partake without fear of legal consequences.

I put this question to Donald Burnes, founder and co-chair of the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness at the University of Denver’s School of Social Work. He does research on the policy around homelessness, as well as on public discourse and the effectiveness of programs.

He said it’s an area that needs more research to have a definitive answer, but all the evidence to date is that it’s not happening. Surveys of the homeless population just don’t show a huge increase in the numbers of people moving here from other states. Most homeless people in Colorado lived here before they became homeless.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:

There seems to be this widespread idea that legal cannabis is attracting people to the city. What do you know about that, and how do you know it?

There are a number of sources of information. I’ve talked to a number of directors of service agencies who say they’ve seen a rise in the number of people seeking services. They indicate there is some increase in the number of people who are there because of cannabis. However, the best data we have — and it’s frankly not great data — it comes from something called the annual Point-in-Time survey … There’s a question on the Point-in-Time survey: Where is the last permanent housing place that you lived? Based on that question, we can look at numbers of folks who are now in the metro area but consider a location outside of Colorado the last place that they lived. Those data, imperfect though they may be, suggest there has not been a substantial increase in the people coming from out of state.

So, independent of the reason people might come here, we haven’t seen the number of people moving here from other states go up?

Not significantly. We have seen an average of 100,000 people a year coming into the state. That clearly has fueled increases in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness. We don’t think the numbers of people coming for marijuana has increased substantially.

Now, one of the things that may be happening as people move here from other parts of the country is housing prices go up, which has a negative effect at the low end of the ladder, which contributes to homelessness. We don’t see any evidence that large numbers of people are showing up to smoke pot.

Why is that perception so widespread?

It’s an easy answer. There is no doubt that there is an increase in the numbers of homeless, not a large increase, but some increase over the last several years, and it tends to coincide with the 2012 ballot decision and 2014 actual legalization. It becomes an easy target. The unfortunate thing is what it does is reinforce a negative stereotype that all people experiencing homelessness are stoners, which is simply not true.

The Point-in-Time survey asks people what the reason they became homeless is and addiction to substances is pretty low in the list. It’s losing jobs, it’s the cost of housing and it’s family break-up. Things like that. Mental illness and substance abuse is pretty low down on the list. And that’s both in the city and across the metro region.

There is this notion that people become homeless because they are drunks, druggies, lazy, crazy, bad choices. But there are a lot more people who are housed who are drunks, who are druggies, who have mental illness, and who among us has not made a bad choice?

— Don Burnes

What are some of the limitations in that Point-in-Time survey?

How long do you have? Enumerating this population is probably the most difficult enumeration you can do. Lots of folks don’t want to be counted. Lots of folks will not fill out surveys. Lots of folks want to be hidden. …One of the problems is it has to be done at a certain time and you have to get lots of volunteers, and that is difficult.

But it’s the best data we have.

And what percentage of the homeless population comes from out-of-state?

It’s somewhere between 12 and 16 percent in any year come from out-of-state. There are lots of reasons to come to Colorado. In 2016, Denver was considered the fastest growing city in the country. Marijuana was not listed as one of the reasons. You talk about the mountains, you talk about winter sports, you talk about summer sports, you talk about a millennial magnet. You talk about lots to do in the city.

We did a survey of people sleeping in camp sites on Clear Creek in Aurora. We talked to one guy who was here with his wife from Arkansas. We asked him why he moved here, and he said, “Look at the mountains. It sure beats Arkansas.” He did not talk about coming for pot.

(Later in the conversation, Burnes had another observation about legal marijuana.)

Legal recreational marijuana is not particularly cheap, and there are other drugs that are cheaper and more readily available if you know the right people. It’s not just pot. We know that heroin, that use of various opioids, including prescription drugs, has skyrocketed in recent years. Maybe we should be paying more attention to that.

Amanda Berry (left) watches as city workers “sweep” a homeless encampments at Denargo and Delgany Streets where she was staying for two months, Jan. 26, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

What would it take to get a better handle on this?

We would have to do a much more in-depth study. People are not going to admit initially, ‘Oh yeah, I came here to smoke pot,’ but my guess is that in an extensive interview with the appropriate prompts, you could get at that. But that’s costly.

The best data we have now is simply: Have you come from another state?

(Note: The Point-in-Time survey occurs in January and wouldn’t count people who arrive in the summer as part of the traveler circuit or people who come for events and festivals and hang around for a few months.)

What are the policy implications of this belief? Does that change the types of policies that we have? Does it change support for those policies? Does it matter if we get a good answer?

Regardless of why people come here, the real policy question is: How do we end homelessness? And that’s a very different question. The cost of housing is skyrocketing. Right now, in Denver, it takes almost an hourly wage of $24 an hour to afford a modest 2-bedroom housing unit. That’s almost three times the minimum wage. … We are way behind on housing. And the answer does not include housing alone. For some folks it includes services.

What the mayor and City Council did in the fall in terms of the local housing trust fund, that’s fine. I applaud that. But a year or so ago, the regional director of Housing and Urban Development said that in this metro area, we have a deficit of about 25,000 housing units for people who are seriously housing challenged or who are experiencing homelessness. Creating 6,000 units over 10 years is a little short of 25,000.

(Note: Only a portion of the 6,000 units the city will create or preserve will go to the very poor or the homeless. The affordable housing fund will also be used for so-called “workforce” housing for people who might be considered middle class in less expensive cities.)

Gov. John Hickenlooper asked that marijuana tax money be used to fund housing for the homeless. One of the justifications he gave was that marijuana is contributing to homelessness. If it ends up generating tax money for housing, is it okay if people have this misconception?

Burnes gave a deep sigh at this question.

I strongly applaud the governor for trying to put money into affordable housing. Unfortunately I think the misperception tends to reinforce negative stereotypes. More than anything, I feel strongly that if we really are going to adequately address the problem, we need to change public attitudes about homeless. I love the money coming in, but I really hope we can educate people to the realization that the negative stereotypes and misconceptions really are wrong. The vast majority of homeless people are not the folks you see on the streets. They represent only 15, 20 percent. Most of the folks are invisible so we don’t see them, but their issues are just as serious as the street folks. So I have very mixed reactions to your question.

Is there anything else people should know?

The other thing that all this raises is: Why do people become homeless? There is this notion that people become homeless because they are drunks, druggies, lazy, crazy, bad choices. But there are a lot more people who are housed who are drunks, who are druggies, who have mental illness, and who among us has not made a bad choice? The real issue is economic and systemic. I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about that.

Apartments for rent in Washington Park West. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Maat Khan behind the counter at Simply Pure. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Looks medicinal to me. Look medicinal to you? (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Man smoking marijuana. (Rafael Castillo/Flickr)

Are you ready to read about two more Denver restaurant picks that beg your attention? You already know that the capital city of Colorado has thousands of restaurants, and we have virtually visited quite a few. I want to grab two really unique picks for you so that you find a reason to make sure you visit them. Let’s see what we’ve got in the form of two more top restaurants in Denver, Colorado.

Piatti Denver is one of my two picks, and it is because of how good the pizza looks. There are a ton of pizza places in Denver, but this one is certainly a good one. It is located on Saint Paul Street, and you can enjoy other delicious Italian eats there, too. One reviewer describes the food as fresh and traditional. Need I say more?

Now let’s look at the other Denver restaurant I have picked out for you. It is called Tocabe, and it is located on the corner of 44th and Lowell. Have you ever tried Native American cuisine? You are talking about Indian tacos, fry bread, bison ribs and much more. What is fry bread? Reviewers say that you need to try it, and evidently the nachos are great, too.

The first Denver restaurant was great, but that second one really has my attention. It’s not every day that you get to eat at a restaurant that serves up Native American cuisine. It seems like you are certainly in for a treat if you visit Tocabe. As a matter of fact, I think that is my favorite Denver restaurant yet, would you agree? Of course, you can only confirm that if you are willing to go give it a try. Make sure you don’t forget about Piatti Denver though because that pizza sure looked delicious.

Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

DENVER– One Colorado family is sharing their hard journey with hopes it could save another child’s life.

A newborn going into heart failure at just two weeks old is a horrifying thought for any parent.

That was more than a thought for Juniper Gelrod’s parents as she had to be connected to a Berlin heart machine just days after she was born.

“It was a pump that actually went into her heart, and came out of her stomach and was plugged into a 200 pound driver that pumped her heart for her,” explained Juniper’s mom Joni Schrantz.

Juniper lived connected to the machine with 50/50 odds of surviving as she waited for a new heart.

As a way of dealing with the stress and pressure of the ordeal Juniper’s photographer mom picked up her camera and posted pictures to social media.

“Just to sort of allow others to wait with us and see what it’s like to wait for an organ,” said Schrantz.

After 6 months of waiting as another family’s loss meant life for Juniper.

“It’s a very humbling experience to be waiting for something like that so that your child can live. There’s a lot guilt associated with it,” said Schrantz.

Juniper’s story is not only connecting her family to others going through the same thing, but it’s grown into something more.

Schrantz was asked to curate a National Geographic project inspired by journeys like Juniper’s, and it’s filled with photos that represent powerful life changing moments.

It’s a part of National Geographic’s 800,000 member online community of photographers called Your Shot.

“We’ve learned a lot of making the best of things and trying to stay optimistic and showing her what to appreciate about life,” said Schrantz.

The project was highlighted during April for Organ Donation Month, and in that time more than 700 people have signed up for the organ donation registry through the project.

Now Juniper is three years old doing great today and has no heart problems, but she does have to take medication and get frequent checkups.

Her mom hopes Juniper’s story will inspire you to sign up for organ donation because 1 life can save 8 others.

You can sign up online by visiting Donate Life Colorado’s website.

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