Polly Letofsky was walking on a "barren highway through a tiny town in northern Australia" when a senior citizen flashed her. As Letofsky tells it, an "eighty-year-old, kind of big woman" hailed her by name and then told her in a heavy Aussie accent that she'd survived a bout with breast cancer nearly forty years earlier. This might have been a perplexing encounter were it not for the fact that Letofsky is known as the "Global Walker," whose goal is to raise breast-cancer awareness worldwide. "She kept talking about 'my boobs' and what a great job the doctors did," Letofsky continues. The woman just had to bust out evidence of her successful treatment, even if it meant showing some octogenarian skin.
Letofsky can have that sort of effect on people. Compelled by the number of women in her life diagnosed with breast cancer, Letofsky set out on foot from her Vail home in August, 1999, headed toward the Pacific Coast to do her part to stomp out the disease. Since then, the Lions Club-sponsored traveler has ambled through more than twenty countries, including New Zealand, India, Singapore and Thailand, striding for heightened awareness and fundraising with local organizations when possible. Now, after nearly five years, her alter ego's mission is almost complete.
Having circled the globe, Letofsky is projected to hit Vail again this August. After that, she'll be done with her nomadic ways and presumably take a break from her travel buddy "Bob," the specially engineered stroller she uses to haul her belongings.
Letofsky is close enough to home to be comforted by the sounds of Colorado. ("It's nice to hear familiar language on the radio, like 'Eisenhower Tunnel' and 'Rocky Flats,'" she says.) But she's still got a few paces -- and places -- to go before she can throw in the worn tennis shoes. To mark her arrival in Denver, the Palm Restaurant, 1672 Lawrence Street, will host a welcome-back-to-Colorado party for Letofsky at noon today. Tickets, $20 to $25, include both non-alcoholic and alcoholic refreshments, as well as a chance to hear stories and see pictures from the Global Walk. Proceeds from the gathering will benefit local nonprofit Sense of Security. For information, call 303-669-3113 or go to www.blacktie-colorado.com. -- Caitlin Smith
Queen City rolls out a gay time
There are many theories about how Denver became known as the "Queen City of the Plains," but at today's PrideFest 2004, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community will reinstate its annual reign with upwards of 170,000 queens, kings and everyone-in-betweens. And in an election year with same-sex issues stacked high, it's a sure bet they'll say it louder and prouder than ever. PrideFest marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, violent confrontations between police and homosexuals in New York City that sparked the modern gay-rights movement. This year's production is the GLBT Center of Colorado's eighteenth, and its theme is the "Pride League," a parody of DC Comics' "Justice League" that comprises six super-fabulous heroes who "battle against injustice" draped in the six colors of the rainbow flag. "We actually think this is the best PrideFest theme ever," says director of events Greg Lovell. "It lends so much fun and creativity while carrying a very important message."
The grand gay-la kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a parade of colorful floats and marchers that takes off from Cheesman Park and then cruises down Colfax Avenue, from Franklin Street to Broadway, ultimately coming to rest at Civic Center Plaza. The fest will continue until 5 p.m. with a rally, food, music, family entertainment and tan and topless man-chests in heroic numbers. Call the GLBT Center at 303-733-7743 or visit www.pridefestdenver.org for a complete schedule. -- Kity Ironton
Pack up your senses and prepare to be blinded by the night at In the Dark, an exhibit that opens today at the Wildlife Experience in Parker. Visitors are encouraged to shake off their heebie-jeebies as they travel through five darkened dioramas with interactive hands-on stations. The goal, beyond beating the creeps, is to explore some of the world's lesser-known environments and learn about the animals who use everything but sight to navigate them. Options include frolicking through a forest of glowing mushrooms, plunging into the ocean deep, and even delving beneath a basement floor to discover the wildlife that inhabits those domains. "In the Dark is highly interactive," says the museum's Amber DeBerry. "The exhibit even talks about the small critters that live under sand." In addition to promoting wildlife conservation, organizers hope to inspire visitors to take advantage of all of their senses.
Originally created by the Cincinnati Museum Center, the traveling exhibit is here through September 19. The Wildlife Experience is at 10035 South Peoria Street in Parker; admission is $6, with discounts for kids and seniors. Call 720-488-3300 or visit www.thewildlifeexperience.org for more information. -- Kity Ironton
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Writers of tales learn art of tailing
Back when Colorado Springs mystery writer R.T. Lawton, a former DEA agent and current vice president of the Mystery Writers of America Rocky Mountain Chapter, was tailing suspicious folks for a living, he learned to refer to them as "rabbits," which may or may not be a step up from being a sitting duck. "I guess we were like the hounds and the hares," Lawton says, recalling his narc days. But apparently, surveillance is a learned skill that can come in handy in other walks of life, too: As a writer, Lawton found that his author colleagues could use a few pointers on the fine art of surreptitious observation. It makes a better story, after all, when you've got all the details.
To that end, Lawton and the MWA will host a free Surveillance Workshop, pitting teams of novice hunters on foot against crafty rabbits hopping around in downtown Denver. "Every fifteen minutes, I'll ratchet it up a little more in terms of the things the rabbits can do to make it more difficult," Lawton says. After it's all over, the teams will gather to compare notes.
The workshop is from 9 a.m. to noon today on the 16th Street Mall; to register and find out where to meet, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Susan Froyd