VanMeveren Law Group September 2018

Foundations 9 7 0 The Heads Up/Phones Down ScholarshipWinner

Horacio Garcia was undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, brilliant professor at the University of Canoabo in Venezuela. He graduated from the University of Carabobo, the second- most prestigious in the country, with a degree in Economics and obtained multiple masters degrees after that. He even continued his education in the United States, earning his Ph.D., and as any proud, progressive, and educated Venezuelan would, he went back to share with young people looking for professional preparation all the things that he had learned throughout the years.

Over the past few months, the team at VanMeveren Law Group has been fortunate enough to read through many wonderful essays from young students regarding distracted driving. My team has read through every essay with the difficult task of choosing a winner for our Heads Up/Phones Down scholarship program. Before I announce the winner, I want to thank all of our applicants for their amazing and insightful stories. I also want to remind folks that using phones while driving remains a very serious problem on our roadways. Distracted driving numbers continue to rise and, sadly, the driver distraction rate for our young people is the most concerning. According to AAA, 58 percent of teen crashes involve driver distraction. A University of Utah study revealed that people who talk on the phone while driving are just as impaired as intoxicated drivers at the legal blood alcohol limit of .08 percent. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash or near crash by 23 times. Parents, please don’t use your phones while driving. Teens whose parents drive distracted are 2–4 times more likely to also drive distracted. With that, I want to congratulate Paula M. She submitted an insightful essay based on her experiences with texting and driving. Here is Paula’s essay.

Congratulations to Colorado State University student, Paula Moreno! As so eloquently written in her essay, the impact of distracted driving can be far-reaching and devastating.

Horacio Garcia was my neighbor when I was little, in Bejuma, a very small

town with less than 50,000 people, which made us very close. Horacio had a family, a beautiful and loving one, I would say. He had three sons, each one of them clever and brilliant in their own way, but just as driven as their father. At only 15 years old, Juan was excelling in high school and about to attend the University of Carabobo. Miguelangel was finishing his first year of engineering, and Carlos was finishing his education in medicine. Horacio’s wife was the only cardiologist in town, and therefore one of the most recognized and praised professionals. Horacio was a nature lover. Every day he biked to the university to teach his 9 a.m. class, a ride of an hour and a half, because he argued it was the way it had to be done. Vehicles were too polluting for his liking, plus the view on the side of the road was too beautiful to pass by unnoticed. If you have seen Venezuelan landscapes, you would understand the respect and admiration that one can have for our natural mountains and valleys.

Horacio Garcia was the future of many. Such a brilliant mind, a thorough education, and a humble heart were hard to find in the climate that was developing in my home country. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela started with small deteriorations when I was young. Horacio Garcia’s death was one of them. On a Monday morning, Horacio was riding his bike to work and was hit by a car. On a Monday morning, Horacio Garcia was dead, a hero who performed in the most unnoticed but powerful ways, stolen by a text. Transportation routes and rules at home were not something to be proud of. In fact, they were terrible. Unsafe roadways and the lack of sidewalks and bike roads, as well as corrupt law enforcement to prevent accidents were common, and what I thought was normal until moving [to Colorado]. Horacio Garcia Continued on page 3 ...

–Bryan VanMeveren

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Involved but Not Overbearing

Helicopter parents are the bane of every teacher’s existence. With the return of back-to-school season, it’s vital to find a happy medium between the tiger mom who bares her teeth at the smallest setback in her child’s schooling and the laissez-faire parent who is totally disengaged from their kid’s education. Here are a few tips to keep you involved in your child’s educational development while fostering relationships with their teachers in a way that won’t drive all of you up the wall. 1. Be a little empathetic. Teachers are some of the hardest-working people in the world, wrangling the disparate needs of around 25 children day in and day out while attempting to get them

to actually learn something. It’s a high-stress, low-paying job. In the midst of grading 300 research papers written by 12-year-olds, the last thing they need is the added pressure of concerned parents bearing down on them. If you can approach a teacher from a position of understanding and be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, you’ll be off to a good start. 2. Show up and keep an open mind. Ask any teacher in the country, and they’ll undoubtedly tell you that one of the best predictors of a child’s success is whether or not their parents make an appearance at parent-teacher conferences. Your engagement should go beyond that. Use the teacher’s preferred method of communication to stay in semi-regular contact with them — always ensuring that you keep an open mind about any praise, suggestions, or concerns they have about your child. 3. Teach your child to take responsibility. Aside from leaving your kid completely to their own devices, one of the worst things you can do is swoop in to solve their problems for them at the slightest hint of adversity. Maybe that D your kid got on their algebra test really was their fault. It’s important to acknowledge your child’s missteps, but you should also try to equip them with the tools necessary to advocate for themselves. Learning to articulate what’s going wrong or what they need from their teacher will help them to develop positive and effective communication skills. The key is to work together with your child’s teacher without being overbearing. Don’t come in with guns blazing at the first sign of an educational slip. Think of your kid’s schooling as a collaborative effort —maybe one in which you’re a little less involved than the teacher — and you’ll be giving your child the best chance of success.

was one of the thousands of civilians who died and whose stories went under the table each year.

who are still practicing their profession do so because of an overwhelming love for education and for progress that is almost in extinction. Horacio was one of them, and I wonder if he was the one who was going to predict, prevent, or at least help cure the diseased economy that was setting upon us so quickly. A loss like this is different from one due to sickness or even robbery because losses like these are not accidents. Accidents are circumstances that could not have been prevented or controlled. Horacio’s death could have been prevented. A distracted driver affects our community because someone like this is no less than a terrorist. No one in my home country bikes anywhere because it is suicide. People are frightened of distracted drivers, as they easily kill pedestrians or cause them paralysis among other traumatic lesions, which is worse, considering health care is almost nonexistent for lack of medicines and professionals. Knowing that there are distracted drivers in our communities can end our desire to go where we need to go by walking or biking because they are a source of fear and translate to the injury or death of others who don’t

have another option because they don’t own a car. It also creates an atmosphere in which citizens know such drivers do not respect their lives and integrity, because similarly to Horacio’s death, it gives a message that a text is more important that your life and future. Horacio is a single example of the enormity that is a human life, because every “accident” that results in the driver, pedestrian, or both being injured represents an equally alarming domino effect of tragedies. The fear, loss, and trauma that sum up the monopoly of cars as the main way of transportation in our communities occur when people behind the wheel are irresponsible, selfish, and dangerous. They cut off of the ways in which society can become a better living place. Because of the phenomenon of distracted individuals — instead of looking forward to children and bicyclists feeling safe where they live, and expanding their development, and transporting in healthier and more environmentally friendly ways — we see a recession from such values driving a community to retrogression. The ultimate effect of what killed Horacio can then be seen as a threat to progress.

The reason why I tell Horacio’s story is because his death unchained a butterfly effect that was the ruin of many people’s lives, and one that I directly experienced. The students at the University of Canoabo did not have a financial mathematics professor anymore, and the school has not found another as prepared as Horacio since then. This troubled all economics students, as the nearest university with the course was a two-hour drive away. Horacio’s family fell apart, victims of uncertainty and grief that led to broken relationships. Horacio’s wife moved and stopped practicing her profession, leaving Bejuma without a cardiologist. My grandmother was one of her patients. Two of the boys left the country, and no one has heard anything about them since then. To further explain the magnitude of the consequences of Horacio’s death, I will reference the poor and alarming state of my home country’s economy today. Venezuela has the worst-performing economy in the world, with a 2,300 percent inflation rate. Seventy-five percent of the country’s professors have emigrated, as they were not paid enough to even feed themselves. The few brave ones

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Fitness at Your Own Pace

These days, it seems like there is a franchised fitness center on every block, so it can be hard to find a truly local fitness center that will meet your needs. That’s where Raintree Athletic Club comes in. Raintree is locally owned and operated, and they offer programs tailored to every age and fitness level. They even offer child care services. Raintree set out to offer a well-rounded fitness and health club experience, and that’s exactly what they did. You’ll find aquatic programs, court sports (basketball, racquetball, volleyball), cycling, Pilates, yoga, personal training, and much more. They even offer wellness programs centered on nutrition and massage. For kids, Raintree has programs for just about every age group, including dance, yoga, basketball, and more. Kids’ programs are even broken down by age. You can find a complete list of their programs on their website at

Raintree Athletic Club 2555 S. Shields St. Fort Collins, CO 80526 970-490-1300

Swiss Chard


1 1/4 pound (2 bunches) Swiss chard, trimmed and halved crosswise 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• • • •

2 carrots, peeled and chopped 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

• •

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

2 large shallots, peeled and chopped


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium. 2. Once heated, add Swiss chard and sprinkle with carrots and shallots. Put canned tomatoes

3. Add 1/2 cup water, and bring to a simmer. 4. Partially cover skillet and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, about 15–20 minutes. 5. Transfer to a large platter and serve.

over chard, add sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

Inspired by Saveur magazine

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Run, Walk, and Relax This September in Fort Collins

10th Annual Fall Harvest Brewfest When: Saturday, Sept. 8 Where: The Lincoln Center It’s an evening of dogs and brews — what could be better? The Lincoln Center will play host to more than 35 breweries and microdistilleries, along with a number of local food trucks. It’s a chance to try something new while benefiting Fort Collins’ own Animal House Rescue & Grooming. This is a 21-plus event, and you can learn more and buy tickets at lctix. com/10th-fall-harvest-brewfest . 34th Annual Historic Homes Tour When: Saturday, Sept. 15 This is your chance to see inside a few select historic residences right here in Fort Collins. The Poudre Landmarks Foundation runs the self- guided tours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., giving people a glimpse inside the city’s preserved older

homes that were built between 1879 and 1960. Full details about this event can be found at the Foundation’s website at . Fall Equinox Half Marathon When: Sunday, Sept. 16 Where: The Mishawaka Amphitheater & Gateway Natural Area It’s almost fall, and the trees are starting to turn. Head out into the hills to celebrate the change in season with the Fall Equinox Half Marathon and 5-Mile. Just like last year, the half marathon kicks off at 7 a.m. at the Mishawaka Amphitheater (13714 Poudre Canyon Road). The 5-mile race starts at Gateway Park, up the road from the amphitheater. Be sure to check out the race website at for more information, including how to register.

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