Rotary Butterflies Take Flight

For 10 years, the Rotary Club’s Flight has released giant, artistic butterflies into the community to raise funds for school arts and sciences.

You’ve probably noticed the flittering orange of all those butterflies this fall. While it’s normal for many butterflies to fly south for warmer winters, the number of painted ladies making their way through Colorado this fall has been unusually high—and beautiful. But there’s also a migration of giant butterflies going on in Colorado Springs, and most of those butterflies don’t leave the city. They’re part of the annual Flight Butterfly Gala and Auction, the artistic major fundraiser of the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs.

For the past 10 years, the Rotary Club has commissioned local artists to design large-scale butterflies, each with a wingspan of about 4 or 6 feet. The club then auctions them off to raise money to fund a number of community service projects, including the art and science programs in School District 11.

“Last year, schools in District 11 were awarded a total of $35,000 in grants from this fundraiser,” says Ron Rubin, president of the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs, “Among which was a $20,000 grant for video motion capture equipment for the video animation class at Palmer High School. That seed money turned into a slew of matching grants, and the class is now equipped with state-of-the-art video capture equipment found in few other high schools around the nation. And it all began with Rotary and funds raised through Flight.”

This year, the butterflies were planted in front of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to allow people who may not attend the gala to engage with the artwork. In the past, the butterflies have been all over the city, but this year the club wanted to share them with the community in a central location.

“We wanted to have them all in this one place, to have a beautiful field of butterflies,” says Annie Valades, co-chair of Flight 2017.

Rotary Butterflies
Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Colorado Springs

Although this is a local fundraiser, people can bid on the butterflies anywhere in the world. Most of the butterflies go on to be displayedoutside of homes or are gifted to churches and businesses. Bids on the butterflies usually range from $1,200 to $7,000. And the Rotary Club hopes this year will put them across the $1 million mark in total funds raised through Flight in the past decade.

“It’s our bread and butter,” Valades says. “It’s the biggest [fundraiser], and we’re able to help so many people with this money. It becomes a charity extension for a lot of people.”

Altogether, there are 27 butterflies to be auctioned off and raffled at the Gala. Three of the butterflies will be blank, so they can be personalized. One special butterfly, The Four Seasons by Susan Andrews, will be raffled off. Raffle tickets cost just $10 and can be purchased by community members who may not be attending the Gala.

10th Annual Flight Butterfly Gala and Auction

Oct. 21, The Broadmoor Hotel

Tickets, details and a complete gallery at

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