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Mr. Biggs, local leaders team up for needy families

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By AJ Vicens

Any NASCAR fan can attest to the bitter sniping that occurs among drivers after a contentious race.

They take shots in the press questioning each other's ethics and motives, and typically disparage their adversaries' skills.

That sort of back-and-forth has been heard among Jeffco officials since a charity event May 12 at Mr. Biggs.

The event, hosted by Steve Bigari, owner of Mr. Biggs, kicked off a partnership among his charity organization, America's Family, Jeffco Human Services and the Jeffco sheriff's office to help low-income families rise out of poverty.

The first-ever Mr. Biggs Grand Prix brought out community leaders, community residents and a group of Head Start families to enjoy the entertainment center for the night. Mr. Biggs donated $5,000 to several charities that night, and let the Head Start families enjoy the center for free.

But the goodwill ended when the go-kart racing began, and the acrimony lasted long after the checkered flag came down on a race featuring Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey, Sheriff Ted Mink, Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Palleta, Wheat Ridge Police Chief Dan Brennan and Bigari.

"He drove very recklessly, too fast for conditions, and I think he was more into bumping his adversaries rather than winning the race," Storey said of the sheriff. "I could tell by the look on his face — he had this sadistic look on his face. He scared me."

Mink was quick to respond.

"It just shows you another guy that fabricates," Mink said. "Because we had helmets on, he couldn't see my face." Mink didn't deny bumping the other racers, though.

"I tried to pass my adversaries, and if they didn't get out of the way, I used the tried-and-true police method," Mink said, referring to the “pursuit intervention technique,” commonly referred to as the "PIT."

Storey also suggested a conspiracy was in play, because whenever he reached speeds that would allow him to move up in the standings, his car would abruptly slow down.

"People ought to know I'm a very honest politician; I admit I came in last, but there was some shenanigans," Storey said. Mink said Storey was being less than truthful, and that fear and jealousy held him back and led him to lash out in the media.

"I'm his hero, and he's very jealous," Mink said. "Any chance he has to pick on me, he will. But I almost lapped him, and so did everybody else because he was afraid. He was physically shaken and scared. He's a jealous little man."

Bigari enjoyed the banter but brought the subject back around to helping the less fortunate.

"This isn't new to me," Bigari said. "I've been doing it for over a decade. What's unique here is that we are really collaborating with the county for the first time. It's a unique alliance with Jefferson County to help try to eliminate poverty for working folks."

Bigari, who purchased the former Fat City Feb. 8 and remodeled it into the family-friendly Mr. Biggs, said the event also went a long way to demonstrate Mr. Biggs' involvement in the community. Bigari owns a similar entertainment center in El Paso County.

"We're really about doing cool and doing right," Bigari said. "This is a fun, safe, community-oriented place."

Bigari wasn't sure how much the event raised, but he put the figure in the "thousands."

All jokes aside, Mink and Storey were proud to help raise money for the cause, and they praised Bigari.

"What a fantastic guy he is," Mink said. "If you've never met him, I'd encourage you to do it. I think he's done a terrific job turning that place around."

Storey also praised the event and Bigari.

"It was a great cause," Storey said. "There was a lot of people, a lot of kids. They have a great guy that sounds like he's announcing the Indy 500, and was narrating the race. It was a lot of fun, a great event.

Kat Douglas, spokesperson for Jeffco Human Services, said Bigari and Human Services Director Lynn Johnson had worked together in the past and came together for this event.

"I think it's phenomenal," Douglas said. "(Bigari's) had a lot of success in El Paso County, and his goal is to eliminate poverty, and we work directly with that on a daily basis. It's a nice partnership. We may not be as ambitious as he is, but we are planning strategy to achieve those goals."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.