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Bucket brigade

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After he saw the images of tragic despair that Hurricane Katrina left in its path, Craig Coffey headed to a place that reminds him of New Orleans: downtown nightclub Rum Bay, sitting high and dry in Colorado Springs.

There, for eight days and nights, the local DJ set up a makeshift radio studio and a cot near the second-floor balcony. Over the airwaves, he asked listeners to bring money -- lots of money -- to help the hundreds of thousands of survivors who saw their homes and livelihoods washed away by the storm.

"You just look at what happened and it's just devastating," he said.

With a bucket and a string, he hoisted donations up to the wrought-iron balcony at 20 Tejon St.

He set out to raise $99,999, an amount to correspond with 99.9, KVUU's number on the FM dial. By Thursday, Coffey had met the goal. Actually, he hit a cool 100 grand.

"We'll chip in the extra $1," he said with a laugh, looking at fellow morning DJ Darren McKee.

Local businesses gave tens of thousands of dollars, he said. But it was the children that touched Coffey most.

"They came in and gave their allowances and their piggy banks," he noted between on-air pleas for money. "It was great."

Coffey didn't take a shower during the entire stint, and McKee noted that Rum Bay, frankly, was a little stinkier than usual.

As Coffey wrapped up the fundraising effort, which will benefit the American Red Cross, he was most anxious to check his e-mail. After that, he said he would kick back and watch some sports on TV.

"OK, maybe I'll take a shower first," he said.

-- Michael de Yoanna

Photo by Bruce Elliott

  • Bucket brigade

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