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Gich Lives On

From left:  Steve Gichner '87, Don Strasburg '91, Patrick Gorman '87, Eric Banta '87, and Boku Prince '88.
From left: Steve Gichner '87, Don Strasburg '91, Patrick Gorman '87, Eric Banta '87, and Boku Prince '88.

Alumnus honors lost friend through fundraising, scholarship, and Will Smith ’74 Scholarship Challenge

When Patrick Gorman ’87, P’21, P’24 learned his friend Steven Gichner ’87 had been diagnosed with cancer in October 2015, all he wanted to do was help him.

“At first we didn’t know how serious it was,” Gorman says. “All I did know was that the goal was to fight it and win.” It wasn’t to be. Gichner (Gich to those who knew and loved him) died in January 2016.

“He fought incredibly hard,” Gorman says.

The two met in 1979 — friends for 35 years. “We went to the same high school, we both went to Colorado College, we both joined Beta Theta Pi, I lived in his house when I was going to law school, I was in his wedding — the whole nine yards,” Gorman says. “Gich was kind-hearted, open, energetic, and quick to laugh a high-pitched, staccato laugh — just a fantastic human.”

Gorman says after Gich’s passing, one question kept surfacing in his mind: “How do we keep his memory alive?”

The answer that kept coming back? Raise funds for a scholarship. It was something he’d done before. Back in 2000 at a Beta reunion, he’d helped start the Beta Theta Pi Alumni Scholarship. If he’d done it once, he could do it again. After talking to the Gichner family about the idea, Gorman dedicated the Beta Theta Pi Alumni Scholarship to be in memory of Steven Gichner to support CC students with financial needs. His goal: $50,000 between July 2020 to June 2021.

Things were coming together, but then COVID-19 hit.

“Suddenly, nobody knew what was going on and I knew it wasn’t a time to ask for money,” Gorman says. “But toward the end of 2020, things were getting better with vaccinations coming and the stock market was doing well. I felt that we could make a push for the last six months.”

And then Gorman discovered something else that would make his decision to move forward even easier: The Will Smith ’74 Scholarship Challenge. Smith, a dedicated philanthropist and longtime CC supporter who died in April of this year, launched the challenge in May 2020, with a $5,000,000 gift to be used to provide a $50,000 match for 100 gifts of $50,000 or more with an overall goal to raise $10 million in new scholarship funding.

“Will has left an amazing legacy and his challenge was the spark that really got this going,” Gorman says. Within six months, Gorman raised over $87,000 from roughly 60 alumni and friends of CC to qualify for the Will Smith ’74 Scholarship Challenge matching funds.

“The Gichner family called me in tears with so much appreciation, they were genuinely touched,” Gorman says. “They see that Gich lives on, that his flag waves at CC.”

Gorman encourages all alumni to start their own fundraising efforts. “Try it. Get friends together and do it. You’ll feel better. But more importantly, the students will feel better.”

To learn more about the Will Smith ’74 Scholarship Challenge, email Meghan Yingling at myingling@coloradocollege.edu.

Report an issue - Last updated: 09/13/2021