Mike Brumbaugh is the owner of Venture Sports, a successful ski and bike shop with multiple locations in the Vail Valley. Venture has been locally owned and operated since 1991.

Mike is an avid outdoor enthusiast, as well as a recognized leader in the Vail Valley business and nonprofit communities.  He and his wife Jennifer have been Denver Rescue Mission donors and partners for the past decade. 

Venture Sports is a “Host” level sponsor of this year’s Turkey Drive, and will be the lead sponsor for the Mission’s Thanksgiving Banquet in a Box event for the seventh straight year. We caught up with Mike recently as he was gearing up for another busy ski season to chat about his passion for the Mission and helping those experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Why did you choose to support the Mission’s Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box program?

Why the Banquet-in-a-Box program? James 2:15-17 says essentially that if you see a person down and out and hungry and you tell them “God bless you,” but you don’t help them with their physical needs, then this is sin and not being faithful.

Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box does exactly the opposite. It meets people in need exactly where they are. It completely takes care of their physical needs and also offers hope for their spiritual ones too. Matthew 25:31-46 talks about Jesus in the final judgement, and He specifically points out people who CHOOSE to feed or not to feed strangers who are hungry—and the consequences, good and bad, of what we do. We all have a choice, and the Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box simply gets it all done.

The Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box event allows people in need to have a Thanksgiving celebration of their own. Boxes include a turkey, canned vegetables, and other traditional Thanksgiving meal items.

How long have you been involved?

This year will be seven years that Venture Sports has been involved in the Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box program. We started in 2013. We actually started getting involved because of a Mission staff member I knew from years ago who used to work in the hotel industry in Vail.

This year, we’re excited to be the “host sponsor” for this event. It just means so much to be able to give back to the community through the Mission.

How have you been personally impacted through your partnership with the Mission?

The absolute blessing of being able to put a box into somebody’s car with a full Thanksgiving dinner is indescribable. The people saying “Thank you” or “God bless you,” the tears and the hugs that we’ll receive over those short four or five hours stick with me for an entire year.

Mike (far left) and his team love coming out for our annual Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box event!

Like so many people, I work some pretty long hours sometimes, and all too often, I find myself driving home feeling sorry for myself and questioning why I’m working so hard, etc.. Then I think back to the hundreds of people who have blessed me when I put a turkey dinner into their car, and I look up, smile and roll my sleeves up and get back to work.

Describe one of the most impactful moments you’ve had while volunteering at the event or the Mission?

My first year at the Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Box event, there was a line of cars a hundred yards long (this was before time slots were assigned). There was a silver Mercedes SUV about half way down the line. I found myself really focusing on that SUV as it got closer and closer.

I am completely ashamed to confess that I found myself getting really bitter and angry about this Mercedes rolling up to the event and getting a Thanksgiving dinner. My sinful pride then started an internal dialogue about how I was standing out here freezing while they were driving around in this nice car… and I’m getting ready to serve them.

By God’s divine timing I ended up being the person who got to serve the people in that Mercedes SUV. As the woman rolled down her window, I asked her whether she wanted me to place the box in the back seat or the rear of the vehicle. That’s when I noticed she was obviously living in her car. God immediately struck my prideful cheek and I felt like Peter when the rooster crowed.

After I shut the car door, I went back to the driver’s window, choking back tears, and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving. She climbed halfway out of her window to give me what might be the best hug I’ve ever received. She was sobbing and thanking me for what I had done for her. I could feel her gratitude and humbleness teaching me precisely what I needed to learn.

Romans 14:4 warns “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yeah, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” I did not serve or bless that woman. She blessed and taught me, and I’m still regularly reminded of her and that lesson today.

Why does Denver Rescue Mission matter to you?

The Mission walks the walk. Period. That great big cross outside the building downtown says it all. JESUS SAVES.

The Mission meets people where they are with no judgement or requirements. They fulfill peoples’ most basic needs with food and shelter. They then offer to introduce people to the One who will fulfill their most important need, eternal food and shelter. And then they offer a path to get to both. If you’re willing to ask for help, the Mission has the people, the program, the desire, and the experience to help you get to where you need to be. Nobody else is doing that.