Employee Volunteer Spotlight – Laura Palato, HR Recruiter, Denver Community Fundraiser, Marathon Runner, and Special Needs Mom

It’s no coincidence that Laura Palato’s career found its way to where it is. Growing up, the lobby of the Citywide Banks Aurora branch was a familiar place to her. Laura’s parents, Pamela and Robert Alford, have been loyal Citywide Banks customers since 1976. “The decision to work for an employer such as Citywide Banks was relatively easy,” Laura said. “Working for an established, family-owned company is an excellent fit for me, both on a professional and personal level.”

For most people, a special needs child might be a sufficient commitment. But for Laura, caring for her son Tommy Grayam, who is mentally and physically handicapped as well as mentally ill, put her in touch with a world of deserving, important programs that needed further help.

As a parent of a child with special needs, “I learned there is virtually nothing for you. You have to kick, scream and holler just to try to get what is necessary,” she said.

So this Citywide Banks Human Resources Recruiter/ Generalist, who raised two children alone, began volunteering on weekends as soon as she could tote her children along.

“When Tommy was little, I became more involved in the community,” she remembers. On weekends, she raised money and donated time to the Special Olympics, Freedom Service Dogs, and the Autism Society of America.

Today, Tommy lives in a host home, and Laura’s daughter Meagan works with special needs adults. Lately, Laura’s fundraising has found an outlet through running, her cardiovascular skills finely tuned as the result of four years of service in the United States Army. 

This year, Laura will raise money through marathons, triathlons and fun runs for nine organizations. These include: the Autism Society of America; Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure; Tri for the Cure Denver; American Leukemia Foundation; Colfax Marathon for the Aurora Animal Shelter; Arthritis Foundation; American Cancer Society; and the United Way.

“I just feel like I could always do more,” she says. 

And if Laura ever has a down moment, you couldn’t tell.

“My son is an amazing young man. I’ve learned patience and acceptance, not worrying about people judging you out in public,” she said.  “And I choose to be happy. I could sit here and dwell on the hand that was dealt me, instead I choose to believe that I’m the luckiest, most blessed person in the world.”

If you want to try to keep up with Laura’s fundraising activities, go to http://www.crowdrise.com/LauraPalatocolfaxmarathon.

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