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Longtime Dragon Boat Festival volunteer dies after medical emergency at event

Mary Monzon was a dedicated member of the Asian Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years.

DENVER — It was not too difficult for Fran Campbell to find a photo of Mary Monzon. Monzon had a lot of friends, and plenty of them were proud to call her that. 

"I met her back in the '90s when she came out here from California to work for AT&T," Campbell said. "She never failed to make anyone laugh. Just the way she talked sometimes it would make people just smile. She was my go-to plus one."

Credit: Fran Campbell

Monzon was a dedicated member of Denver's Asian Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years. She was often seen at the registration table at events, oftentimes the first person to greet a person. She was also one of the first volunteers for the Denver Center for International Studies.

"It's almost everywhere we went. People knew her," Campbell said. 

9NEWS even did. Monzon did a story with the station in August 2003. She was trying to help others navigate new traffic laws.

Credit: KUSA
Mary Monzon was interviewed by 9News in August 2003.

"Mary prioritized other people always. Always," Campbell said. 

Prioritizing others is why Monzon relocated to California to care for her mom, but she still regularly flew back to Denver to visit her partner and volunteer at events, including the Dragon Boat Festival

"She was with the Dragon Boat Festival from the very beginning. So she happily came back for that," Campbell said. "She flew in last Thursday."  

On Sunday, Monzon collapsed at the festival on her way to emcee at one of the stages. The Asian Chamber of Commerce said she died of a brain aneurysm. She was 59 years old. 

"Usually I emcee with Mary on the smaller stages at Dragon Boat, and this was the first year I wasn't able to," Campbell said. "Heartbroken. Just heartbroken, and I'm not the only one." 

Credit: Fran Campbell

Pain will always be there. But Campbell and others at the Asian Chamber of Commerce will remember Monzon the best way they know how: by sharing kindness and passion.

"I think we should all be like Mary. Grab life and your friends and family now, today, and do something that you love," she said. "Even if it means you have to fly in just to be with the people that you like and love."  

The Asian Chamber of Commerce said they are hoping to schedule a memorial for Monzon soon.

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