Mav 4 Life group helps alumni
When a car hit him and shattered his back, his fellow Mavs were there.
When he was in a wheelchair, his fellow Mavs were there.
When he had gastric bypass surgery and lost 300 pounds, his fellow Mavs were there.
Through the tough times and the recovery periods, 51-year-old Grand Junction resident Bob Schlagel depended on fellow Colorado Mesa University alumni to visit him in the hospital and lift his spirits.
Schlagel, who graduated from then-Mesa College in 1983, has always had pride for his alma mater and wanted others to know how great the support of Mesa alumni can be.
So, in March 2010 he started Mav 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that connects 142 alumni and their friends and family members with people in need.
Mav 4 Life volunteers have donated clothing to Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley homeless shelter, delivered food to alumni in need, and donated checks to the cause.
Now that awareness is building, mostly because of Schlagel’s efforts to sign people up with the nonprofit at Mavericks home games and through website http://www.mav-4life.org, he hopes to accumulate enough money to grant small requests, such as help with utility bills.
Schlagel said the group wants to help fellow alumni, but it will help others, too. Part of the group’s mission is to provide things as simple as companionship, like the kind Schlagel enjoyed during his stints in the hospital.
“After you’ve been sick and close to death like I have, you want to help people and do good,” Schlagel said.
Larry McKenna, who formed a music duo with Schlagel when the two were Mesa students, is a Dallas member of Mav 4 Life.
“I thought it was wonderful when he first started it,” Mc- Kenna said. “I hope hundreds and hundreds of ex-Mavs become a part of it.”
McKenna and Schlagel played music together for 10 years. Schlagel toured as a musician for 25 years after a back injury in 1982 ended his dream of a pro football career.
He started The Lending Source in 1996 and returned to Grand Junction in 2003. McKenna started and runs “green” manufacturer Greenway Design Group.
McKenna said his longtime friend has “the biggest heart in the entire world. He’d give his last cent to anybody.”
Another friend of Schlagel’s from college, Dan Perrin, became a business sponsor of Mav 4 Life through his Grand Junction business, Automotive Applications. Perrin said he supports Mav 4 Life because “it fits a niche.”
“The Mavs we know, there’s a lot of camaraderie there,” Perrin said. “Bob is kind of the nucleus. He lets us know what’s happening and what we can do.”