If you go

What: Veterans Day Ceremony

When: Friday, 11 a.m.

Where: UMC, Glenn Miller Ballroom

More: veterans.colorado.edu

T he University of Colorado's team of Ralphie handlers will be sporting combat boots around campus and Folsom Field next week with hopes of raising awareness for veterans assistance programs.

The 14 members of the handler team -- who accompany the female American bison on her dash around Folsom Field before Buffs' football games -- and three of their coaches each purchased a pair of $100 military-style boots from the national Boot Campaign, which supports wounded military veterans and their families.

The campaign began in Texas and provides services such as financial support, job placement, mortgage assistance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling and adaptive clothing programs -- all through the proceeds from boot sales.

Ralphie's handlers will be wearing the boots during CU's Veterans week in solidarity with local veterans, while educating the Boulder campus about the campaign.

Ralphie handler Taylor James, a CU senior, said the men are excited to support wounded veterans nationwide after being inspired by one of their own.

When Ralphie handler Josh Alderfer, a Marine veteran, shared his friends' struggles with PTSD with his teammates, his fellow handlers quickly took action in supporting the Boot Campaign.


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"I presented it to them and they all jumped at the idea and went out and individually purchased boots," Alderfer said. "I just felt like they were all passionate about it.

"So to me, my job is just to make sure that the ball keeps rolling."

Alderfer said he hopes the handlers can help bridge the gap between student veterans and the rest of the campus community.

"The ultimate goal with this is that students see us in the boots and hear about the charity and get onboard," Alderfer said.

The Boulder campus has about 650 student veterans and about 250 faculty and staff veterans. Veterans week is a good opportunity to help integrate these folks into the larger campus community, said Mike Roberts of CU's Veterans Services.

"We want to help them understand who we are as veterans, because we're not all the same," Roberts said. "But we also want to get to know the community better, so we're hoping these events will serve both purposes."

CU and Veterans Services will be hosting events throughout the week, starting with a Veterans Day Ceremony in the University Memorial Center at 11 a.m. Friday, Roberts said.

CU will also host Military Students Day on Friday, which will bring various veterans who are considering attending CU to the Boulder campus, followed by a showing of "V-DAY 11.11.11," a documentary examining the lives of several veterans.

For a full list of events, including a pre-game tailgate party before the football game on Nov. 17, visit veterans.colorado.edu.