By Angela Brooks
LARAMIE, Wyoming, Dec. 24. SOME of the most prominent men in Laramie have stripped off their clothes to raise money for an eight-lane competitive swimming pool.
About 35 local men cast off their inhibitions — and business suits — for a 2004 calendar designed to raise money for an eight-lane pool at the Laramie Community Recreation Center.
“We wanted to show these normal, dignified people in their jobs, being a little undignified,” said Lisa Kinney of Friends of Community Recreation.
“Wyoming Male Celebs” is a takeoff of a calendar done in Iowa where everyday men posed nude to raise money. Hoping a similar idea would work in Laramie, Kinney collected beach supplies and began calling businessmen.
“We’re a group of women, so we decided men would be the best subjects,” Kinney chuckled.
Some weren’t so keen on the idea, but others gladly joined in on the fun.
“The people who made it into the calendar were very fun-loving and understood it was just going to be a silly way to raise funds for the pool,” Kinney said.
All photos are wholesome, like the one featuring Laramie bank presidents Gary Negich, Dan Furphy and Stig Hallingbye.
“I think there was a bit of disbelief that (Kinney) would ask me,” said Negich of First Interstate Bank. “I thought she’d go ask the cheerleaders or the firemen, something like that.”
In the photo, Negich, 51, poses topless with his comrades in an office at First National Bank.
Negich said he got a few strange looks when he appeared in the bank wearing nothing but swimming trunks. Since then, Negich has been the butt of several jokes and has even been asked for autographs.
“It’s something that bankers don’t normally do — get semi-naked for the public,” he said.
But Negich said he was happy to help with the eight-lane pool campaign. First Interstate Bank contributed about $37,000 to the effort two-years ago.
Other pin-ups include former mayor Joe Shumway and County Commissioner Pat Gabriel posing in city council chambers with lifejackets and beach towels.
“Mr. September,” Ivinson Memorial Hospital CEO Jeffrey Feike, models a life preserver, rubber ducky and snorkel.
And in perhaps the most daring photo shoot, Laramie police officer Mitchell Cushman strikes a pose on top of a police car in subzero temperatures, wearing a lifeguard uniform and sunblock.
The $12 calendars are available at Chickering Bookstore, The Other Store and Grand Newsstand in Laramie.
Kinney said the group would most likely release another calendar for 2005.
“For those people who didn’t get the opportunity this year, we’ll be calling next year,” she said.
In just four months, Friends of Community Recreation has raised over $1 million for the pool, including funds from the Albany County Recreation Board.
City officials estimate pool construction could cost about $1.25 million. The group recently hired architects to create design documents so the exact costs are known.
Kinney said the documents are finished and the cost estimates will be complete in about 2-3 weeks.
Architects will begin working on a change order the pool if enough money is raised by Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, the group has kicked-off other creative fundraisers, such as a polar bear run and an art raffle. Pool supporters can also purchase bottled water and be among the first to pour water into the pool.
(Courtesy Laramie Boomerang)