In 1998, my life was forever changed when Matthew Shepard was transferred to Poudre Valley Hospital from our good friends at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming. Mathew was the victim of one of the most cruel and senseless beatings any of us will ever hear about.
During the time Matthew was in PVH, I had the good fortune to get to know Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard. In the years since my wife, Linda, and I have become good friends with Dennis and Judy. We have learned that they are two good and honorable people who have weathered an unimaginable tragedy in remarkable fashion.
A few days ago Dennis, Judy, Linda, and I had the opportunity to meet and discuss, for the first time in real detail, the events surrounding their stay at PVH and the correspondence that came during the few weeks after the tragedy.
After the events of October 1998, I received many letters from people around the world. Most were touching and gracious. Some were more hateful than I thought possible. For all this time I have kept those letters in my office. Now, for the first time, the four of us took some time to go through each of them. It was a memorable experience.
The reason we went through this is because Judy has arranged for the archives at The American Heritage Center at The University of Wyoming to keep all of the original documents surrounding Matthew’s death. I have often thought that a box in my office was not the right place for this material, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to give this valuable information for permanent safe keeping. Thank you, Dennis and Judy, for the opportunity.
During our meeting, I also found out information about upcoming events for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The big event is the 10th annual Bear To Make A Difference dinner and Auction on October 15 in Denver. I hope you will check it out!
All in all, it was a great opportunity to catch up again with Dennis and Judy and to have an opportunity to permanently record this information.
Thanks for visiting, Dennis and Judy.
P.S. One note on the picture above: In the background you will see a University of Wyoming jersey. During their stay at PVH, I found out that Dennis and Judy are avid University of Wyoming fans. Of course, I am a true blue BYU guy…so we had lots to talk about. In the end, they gave me that jersey that hangs on the wall in my office. On a plaque on the bottom of the jersey there is an inscription thanking me for my effort in the days surrounding Matthew’s time at PVH. Then, at the end, it says “We root for The University of Wyoming and anyone who plays BYU” :) OUCH!!! :)