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Woodland Park arts executive dies in Courage Classic cycling tour

By: Joey Bunch The Denver Post
July 22, 2013 Updated: July 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm
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A 61-year-old arts marketing consultant from Woodland Park died Saturday after a medical crisis during the first day of the Courage Classic bicycle tour.

This is the first fatality in the 24-year history of the event, 9News reported. Sunday evening a statement from chief executive Jim Shmerling identified the man as William F. "Rick" Lester.

"I am riding the 2013 Courage Classic in memory of my late grandson, Noah Wilderson," wrote Lester in his profile on the event site, "whose only fault in life was his unfortunate choice of grandfathers. Early testing is critical for kids like Noah. Thankfully, inherited metabolic diseases are treatable today because of the professionals at Children's Hospital."

The ride benefits Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

"We are truly saddened beyond what words can express," Shmerling stated. "Children's Hospital Colorado, Children's Colorado Foundation and the entire Courage Classic team extends our deepest condolences to the Lester family and everyone affected by this tragedy."

Details about the incident were not immediately available from the hospital Sunday night. The three-day, 157-mile bike ride starts and ends at Copper Mountain Resort.

Lester was CEO of Target Resource Group Arts, which aids non-profit arts organizations, including theater, dance and opera companies, museums, performing arts centers, orchestra and festivals. TRG provides "clients with guidance and solutions for patron-based, sustainable revenue," according to the company website.

Lester was a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and has been a guest lecturer for arts management programs at Yale University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and at Drury University in Missouri, according to his bio.

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