Community pays tribute to Coach D

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A grand day to celebrate the life and friendship of the late Rich Dispenza, aka “Coach D,” Woodland Park High School students, parents and friends honored their friend and mentor with a golf tournament and luncheon at the middle school July 27.

Jedd Hafer, who worked with Coach D at the former Children's Ark, highlighted the coach's characteristics embodied in the two recipients of the Coach D “Making a Difference” Scholarship Program.

“It's so neat that Coach's legacy is helping other people continue their education and build themselves up as members of our community,” Hafer said.

Of courage, Hafer said, “I saw kids absolutely stretched out of their comfort zones and perform in front of a group while learning a little bit about courage.”

As Coach D inspired, was determined and full of ambition, so, too, are the recipients of the $1,000 scholarship: Louie Neil in 2012 and Jacob Censner in 2013.

With funds from the golf tournament as well as from the handmade knitted works done by Dispenza's 97-year-old mother, the committee hopes to increase the amount of the scholarship.

The scholarship project is the result of the commitment of Dispenza's friends, Neil and Paula Levy, with help from community volunteers. “The scholarships will be awarded to kids who live their life the same way that Coach D did,” said Neil Levy.

As any tribute to Dispenza includes his favorite phrase, so, too did the celebration in July. “Remember, you know who loves you.”

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