About Utah: Outpouring of love is inspiration

Published: Wednesday, May 18 2005 9:19 a.m. MDT

She was halfway around the world, in Egypt, on her way to Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise, when the van she was riding in flipped.

Ever since, she's been unconscious . . .

. . . And everyone who knows and loves her has been anything but.

Until that van flipped over — due, reportedly, to a blown tire — Dena Gennerman was the last person anyone thought would need help. Fit, young, active and an avid outdoorswoman, those close to her say her husband, Christian, married her because "she could outski him."

But on April 28, that van did flip and Dena — a California native and Park City resident who was sightseeing in Egypt as part of a "girls' trip" that included her mother, sister and sister-in-law — took the brunt of the crash. She suffered a broken arm and head injuries that have kept her in a coma ever since. While recovery is possible, it is not exactly imminent, which means Dena has not been able to watch the whirlwind of action her plight has generated.

In the past 20 days, family, friends, the Park City community and Christian's contacts in the outdoor industry have pitched in to do everything humanly possible to help. Besides praying and helping care for 11-month-old Caden, the Gennermans' son, that's meant raising the funds necessary to bring Dena home — she was transferred via hospital jet from Egypt to Salt Lake City, a trip that cost upwards of $100,000 — and help defray the costs of her medical care at University Hospital.

Money, goods and services have flowed in to the cause. Park City residents and businesses have opened their wallets and purses. Two restaurants — Bandits on Main Street and Hapa Grill at Kimball Junction — have each pledged an entire night's worth of profits to the cause.

But the biggest flood has come from the outdoor companies Christian Gennerman has worked with the past seven years as a buyer with the Park City-based online company backcountry.com.

Name the outdoor toy; it has either been donated or is about to be donated to the silent auction being organized as we speak. Skis, snowboards, parkas, sunglasses, hats, climbing equipment, bicycles, watches, shoes, socks, fleece, camping gear — all from the biggest names in sporting goods.

For two weeks, UPS and FedEx trucks have been beating a path to backcountry.com's door. So much stuff piled up in Christian's office that Hud Knight, a backcountry.com employee, finally volunteered his garage — and house — to store it all.

"The outpouring of generosity has been unbelievable," said Kendall Card, another backcountry.com employee and friend of the Gennermans. "We've got enough stuff to open a retail store. It'll be a grand opening and closing sale all in one."

That grand opening and closing sale is scheduled to be held at Club Suede at Kimball Junction this Saturday from 7-10 p.m. Anyone interested can bid on the various items. Highest bidder takes them home. For those who can't attend in person, additional items will be posted online, either at www.denaauction.com or on eBay. The eBay items will include signed guitars from the Dave Mathews Band and Maroon 5.

Of course, the gear, the guitars and the rest can't bring Dena back by itself, but as her friend and event organizer Pam Alford says, "She is the focus of a lot of love."

No telling how much that can accomplish.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.

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