Up in the Air

Denver-based society supports National Jewish Health and children with chronic medical conditions


“Kids come to us struggling: medically, physically, socially and emotionally. Once they get here they thrive and bloom.” – Jennifer McCullough Courtesy National Jewish Health

Like a breath of fresh air, the 5280 AIR (Asthma, Immunology and Respiratory) Society has taken flight with a crew of young professionals determined to infuse new excitement and energy into Denver’s fundraising scene.

Their primary focus? Raising money for Morgridge Academy, a K-8 school serving youngsters whose health issues make it hard or impossible to attend a public school.

Located on the National Jewish Health campus in Denver, the academy, formerly known as the Kunsberg School, has, since its start in 1977, educated 2,000 students living with chronic conditions that range from severe asthma and allergies to diabetes, HIV/ AIDS, eczema, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease and muscular disorders. There are no tuition fees, and 90 students, many of whom are from low-income homes, are currently enrolled.

“Kids come to us struggling: medically, physically, socially and emotionally,” says director of education Jennifer McCullough. “Once they get here they thrive and bloom.”

Barely a year old, the 5280 AIR Society was established by Daniel Feiner and his wife, Angela, who patterned it after the New York AIR Society. That organization was launched by a group of up-and-coming business leaders, several of whom had family members treated for asthma, allergies and/or immune system disorders at National Jewish Health. The money raised in New York goes to patient services, research and educational programs at National Jewish Health.

A graduate of Kent Denver School and the University of California Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in economics, Feiner is the president of Feiner Enterprises, a Greenwood Village-based real estate investment and advisory firm. He serves on the boards of the Anti-Defamation League and JEWISHcolorado and was a member of Leadership Denver’s Class of 2013. His father, Michael Feiner, has been a member of the National Jewish Health board of directors since 1984.

The 5280 AIR Society has approximately 40 members whose careers are at a point where they can give both time and money to a cause in which they believe. They’re also determined to outdo their East Coast counterparts when it comes to raising money.

“The New York AIR Society has raised $4 million since its inception in 1991,” notes Clem Connolly, the national events director for National Jewish Health. “The 5280 group is already such a strong brand and creating such a buzz that I wouldn’t be surprised if it raised that much in half the time.”

The 5280 AIR Society’s debut fundraiser was Party at Altitude, a food and entertainment extravaganza held in late August on the rooftop terrace at DaVita World Headquarters in Denver’s Central Platte Valley. The 400 guests raised $130,000.

Party at Altitude was chaired by Ross Chotin, vice president/real estate for The Chotin Group, and Brian Parks, associate vice president at Distinguished Programs, an insurance provider serving the hospitality and commercial real estate industries.

Chotin’s mother, Robin, has been a National Jewish Health trustee since 1996. Parks, who has asthma, is a Kunsberg School alum.

“I grew up in that hospital,” he says. “Thirty-eight years later, I’m still a patient, as is one of my boys. A group of our members recently toured Morgridge Academy, which is the only school of its kind on a medical campus in the United States. What an impact it made. Everyone walked out asking what more could they do.”

The 5280 AIR Society—whose members include Erin and Jonathan Marsico, Leigh Sullivan and Travis Plakke, Eric Schierburg, Lara Silversmith and Stephanie and Sam Zaitz—will have a presence at the signature fundraiser for National Jewish Health, the Beaux Arts Ball. The theme of the February 25 gala will be inspired by the award-winning Broadway show “Hamilton,” and will honor four couples: Feiner’s parents, Debbie and Michael Feiner, plus Cathey and Richard Finlon, Mary Lou Blackledge Kortz and Donald Kortz and Julie and Brent Morse, parents of 5280 AIR Society member Brad Morse.

THE 20th ANNIVERSARY BEAUX ARTS BALL: February 25 at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd.
SECOND ANNUAL PARTY AT ALTITUDE: August 19 at DaVita World Headquarters, 2000 16th St.
Ticket and sponsorship information for both events: Clem Connolly, 303.728.6546 or [email protected]

The 5280 Air Society is a group of young Denver leaders invested in the National Jewish Health mission to research and treat respiratory and related disease.

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