Les Sweeney Finds a Way to Help Others
Charles L. “Les” Sweeney II (College ’89)
As a high school student in Wilmington, Delaware, Charles L. “Les” Sweeney II chose Mr. Jefferson’s University for the broad array of opportunities it offered—both in academics and in extra-curricular activities. Ralph Sampson’s prowess on the basketball court also had caught his eye.
At U.Va., Mr. Sweeney joined Sigma Chi and started a band with three fraternity brothers: Hunter Johnson (Architecture ‘89), Jeff Gerber (Architecture ‘89) and Stephan Oppenheimer (Engineering ‘90). The Traveling Pillsburys, a rock and rockabilly band, which played in a number of Charlottesville venues in the 1980s, celebrated its 20th anniversary last October, playing at Moe’s Original BBQ and Bowl in Denver.
After graduating in 1989, Mr. Sweeney landed a job with the Club Managers Association of America, in Alexandria, Virginia. While there, he met a brunette from Evergreen, Colorado. In 1994, Les and Sarah Sweeney, a 1987 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, moved to Colorado with their six-month-old baby.
Once settled in Evergreen, a Rocky Mountain town twenty-five miles west of Denver, he signed on with Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Under his leadership—he has served as its president since 2006—the organization’s membership has grown from 11,000 to 71,000, making it the largest massage therapists’ group in the country.
Life at a high altitude has been good to Mr. Sweeney and his family—his wife and their three sons, Casey, 16; Joe, 14; and Peter, 10.
“My personal philosophy is, if there’s a way to help others, I’d like to do it,” he said. “I’m not a Rockefeller, but my wife and I have been very fortunate. And giving back is part of what you do when you’ve been blessed. You help others.”
Mr. Sweeney enjoyed a range of experiences in college and wanted to give back to different areas. And as an out-of-state parent, he’s well aware of the cost of an education at U.Va.
“The greatest gift my parents gave me was a college education,” he said. “Even at the time, I realized what a gift I had been given.”
So AccessUVA is one of the things he supports through his Annual Fund giving. Mr. Sweeney’s gifts also have supported the College Foundation, the College Dean’s Fund, historic buildings and grounds, and student life and leadership.
“I don’t believe I give enough to be considered a philanthropist,” he said, “but what my wife and I believe in, we support.”
It’s been awhile since Mr. Sweeney graduated from U.Va., and he’s looking forward to bringing his sons back to Charlottesville. In the meantime, he may have moved halfway across the country to Colorado, but even there he lives—where else?—in Jefferson County.