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February 4, 2009
Evening for Caring benefit to honor catering couple
By Randy Weinert
“Happy Birthday to you! You live in a zoo!” The old children’s version of the birthday song actually has relevance to Kevin and Mary McNicholas, this year’s recipients for the Cardinal J. Francis Stafford Justice and Charity Award to be presented at the Evening for Caring gala, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 19.
The Evening for Caring benefits Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver.
A self-made man, Kevin McNicholas began his catering career in 1954 with a popcorn stand in the old Bears Stadium. After graduating from Benedictine College, Kevin returned to Denver and, after a stint as a government auditor, he refocused his goals. Today he and Mary own KM Concessions, which, among other endeavors, operates in 23 zoos across America, including Hawaii.
In college Mary McNicholas majored in physical education and, to please her mother, English education. She became a teacher in both subjects. Mary still teaches tennis and is a volunteer personified. Her work with charities and school auctions in Denver is renowned.
For years Kevin and Mary have donated catering services to Catholic schools, parishes and charitable causes. For the 2005 Evening for Caring, not only did they contribute the wonderful food but the location at the National Western Stock Show complex and the music. This generosity was repeated for the 2007 Evening for Caring at the Belmar Center. In 1997 a crowd of 400-plus at the dedication of Catholic Charities’ building on West Alameda enjoyed catering donated by KM Concessions—an act repeated in 2007 for the new Catholic Charities home on Pecos Street.
Mary and Kevin have also opened their home to many different fundraising events. A special one was for Catholic Charities’ Camp Santa Maria for underprivileged children. Kevin had attended this camp as a small boy and wanted to make sure other children had the same opportunity.
“We love helping people,” Mary McNicholas said simply.
Between the two of them, Kevin and Mary have served on a long list of community boards. With an emphasis on education and helping the poor, they have been recognized with numerous awards. Even so, Kevin and Mary were reluctant to accept the Stafford Award from Catholic Charities.
“Even though my parents had little, they taught us to give back,” Kevin said.
Explaining how they met, Kevin and Mary laugh as she recalls how she didn’t like him at first and he thought she was a “Goody Two Shoes.” Kevin persevered and finally won her over by taking her to see the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” in Boulder. Married in 1973, the nickname of “Goody” still lingers after all these years. They have raised three children who have achieved their own entrepreneurial success but have also learned by their parents’ example to give back to the community.
They also like to bring joy.
As president of the Catholic Charities Guild, Mary started “Birthday Celebrations” for foster care children. With the help of the guild, every month Mary tirelessly puts together birthday bags filled with cake mixes, frosting and toys. Initially, Mary and Kevin hosted birthday parties at the Denver Zoo and the aquarium. Mary said that on one such occasion, a young boy wanted to know if he could take home a piece of cake. Kevin offered to send home a whole cake but the boy explained he just wanted one piece—“to keep forever”—as a reminder of his first ever birthday party.
The Evening of Caring tickets are $175 per person, with a special discount for those younger than 35. Table sponsorships are available.
The event will be at the Westin Hotel, Tabor Center, 1672 Lawrence St. Entertainment will be provided by the Strictly Irish Dance Company. For more information, call Judy Megyesy, 303-742-0823 Ext. 2109 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.