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Daddy Bruce birthday celebration honors everyday heroes

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DENVER — If he were alive, Daddy Bruce, the iconic restaurateur and philanthropist who has a Denver street and school named after him, would be turning 121 years old on Monday, February 15.

He passed away in 1994 at 94 years old. In addition to an annual Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway that feeds tens of thousands of people, his legacy lives on through an annual birthday event that recognizes local citizens who, like Daddy Bruce, engage in activities that help others. 

According to Pastor Frank Jones, assistant director of the Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation, “the acronym for the ‘Be Bruce Awards' is: B-Brilliance, R-Respect, U-Unity, C-Character and E-Excellence. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have shown one or more of these characteristics. The award is also given based on the nominee’s service to the community, their willingness to help others at the expense of placing themselves in harm’s way and their compassion towards the less fortunate.”

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca
Micah Smith
Dr. Benjamin Scheier
Senator James Coleman
Chef Lisa Givens
Dr. Janiece Mackey

There are five “Be Bruce” honorees this year. Senator James Coleman, a Colorado State Senator, is a Denverite who has been involved in the community in many ways beyond politics. He is a founder of Faith Bridge, a nonprofit that supports K-12 education. Reverend Ronald Wooding, The Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation’s Executive Director, recalls that “he was one of the elected officials behind the November 2017 State of Colorado proclamation naming that month as 'Colorado Feed a Family Month in honor of Daddy Bruce Randolph' Daddy Bruce Proclamation."

Rev. Wooding says Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, District 9 Denver, has been a champion for the Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway. “She’s been a crucial partner for us, liaising with the city of Denver and getting all of the foundation’s permits coordinated. It’s a lot of work!” She set up a Go Fund Me account that raised $4,500 in 2019, then almost $9,000 in 2020 that benefited the Epworth Foundation and the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway.

Chef Lisa Givens, via her restaurant Gourmet Away, donated and delivered meals during the pandemic, providing healthy meals to seniors and those with medical conditions who were quarantined.

Kaiser Permanente Frontline Workers and The Oncology/Hematology Department, are also receiving the “Be Bruce Award” this year. Their recognition will be accepted By Dr. Benjamin Scheier, who treated Ron Wooding during his recent battle with cancer. “Everyone at Kaiser had to put up with me during my treatments and I wouldn’t be here without them!” Rev. Wooding said.

Finally, Dr. Janiece Mackey, Co-Founder and Executive Director of YAASPA (Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism) will receive the “Be Bruce Award” for her ongoing work inspiring young people and coordinating philanthropy during the pandemic. 

The Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation also awards the “Tamara Banks Media Award” to a media professional who exemplifies Daddy Bruce’s philosophies. In 2003, Tamara Banks’ coverage on WB2 News played a critical role in keeping the Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway alive. That year it was at risk of being cancelled. Now the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway is a stable Denver tradition. This year, the “Tamara Banks Media Award” goes to Micah Smith, a Denver7 Reporter, whose Black History Month story of 2020 “demonstrated great writing. She was also the first person who interviewed me after I got out of the hospital,” remembers Rev. Wooding who recalls he didn’t have any hair when she met him, due to the cancer treatments. Watch: Who was Daddy Bruce Randolph? Remembering Denver's 'unofficial' mayor.

This year the Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation will be hosting their birthday celebration virtually, on Monday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. Interested attendees can watch the streaming event via the Daddy Bruce Randolph Legacy Foundation website. To view the stream from the beginning, the viewing audience should click on the link prior to 5 p.m. After the initial presentation, the video will be available for viewing on their website, their Facebook page  and YouTube Channel.

The event is expected to run 30 to 45 minutes. Any donations received will benefit the annual work of the Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation.

In celebration of his birthday, the documentary that profiles Daddy Bruce’s life and legacy, “Keep a Light in Your Window,” will air on Rocky Mountain PBS on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10:30 a.m. 

RMPBS Presents...

Keep a Light in Your Window


Bruce Randolph changed the way Denver feeds families.


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