The University of Colorado Mamabird, the men’s club ultimate Frisbee team, is hosting a fundraiser tournament Oct. 29 in memory of a CU Engineering alum who was killed in 2009.
Andrew "Stitches" Gelston Graham earned his civil engineering degree in 2008 from CU Boulder and planned to return for graduate school. He was shot and killed near his family’s home in Centennial on Nov. 6, 2009, in what investigators believe was a random act of violence.
As a student, Graham did independent research on water quality and worked after graduation as a field services engineer in Alaska. He also was an avid ultimate Frisbee player.
His nickname, "Stitches," stemmed from his first ultimate match, where he smacked his head against another player, sending them both to the ER. Graham left with 32 stitches.
After his death, the team retired his number, 55, and now wears it on their uniform sleeves in his memory. His mother, Cyndi Gelston, formed the Andrew Gelston Graham Charitable Foundation to honor his life and support causes important to him.
This weekend, the two groups are combining for a free, coed Frisbee tournament to honor Andrew’s memory. Now in its eighth year, the tournament has drawn anywhere from 30 to 100 players in the past, and all ages, genders and skill levels are invited to participate.
Gelston will be present to collect donations for the charitable foundation, which typically supports Mamabird and a scholarship fund for graduate students in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department.
“I can’t say enough good things about the University of Colorado and the Mamabirds, because they’ve been with me through this whole process,” Gelston said. “They’re always there. They’re always supportive. It’s like I have a whole bunch of sons instead of one.”
Mamabird coach Mike Lun said he’s proud to continue the tournament tradition. He said he’s excited to pull together youth and college-level Frisbee players and bring the community together in Graham’s memory.
The event will include three rounds of scrimmages, including a final competition between current CU players and alumni. Participants are asked to rate their skill level at signup for division into teams.
Although Lun and most current team members never knew Graham, they are enthusiastic about supporting Gelston, who remains an important part of the Mamabirds family, he said.
“The tradition started before me, but it’s just so easy to see why it’s important for everybody,” Lun said. “One thing with the team that we try to preach is the good work ethic and being good people. Everything on the field just kind of takes care of itself if you can do those two things.”