Donors celebrate dedication of new blood buses

Buses Side by Side
“Will” and “Rex”

On July 28th the PVH and MCR Foundation celebrated the dedication of two brand-new mobile blood donation buses for the Garth Englund Blood Center. The buses were made possible by a tremendous outpouring of community support and a first gift that started it all…

Back in late 2015 the Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust stepped forward with a very special holiday gift to the PVH and MCR Foundation. The donation was intended to help the Garth Englund Blood Center purchase a new mobile blood donation bus.  Their “Hero Bus,” then 14 years old and in need of frequent repairs, was increasingly unreliable and getting close to retirement. The gift from the Wilkins Trust was made so that the blood center could continue to provide our community with the critical, life-saving blood that is acquired through mobile drives.  Currently 75% of all blood collected in our region is through mobile blood drives.

That generous lead donation was matched by UCHealth and inspired the PVH and MCR Foundation and leaders at the Garth Englund Blood Center to think beyond solely replacing the old Hero Bus.  Each year our northern Colorado community is faced with an increased demand for more blood products to respond to a broad range of medical situations; and our region is growing.  The need is growing.  We thought: what if we were able to expand the fleet to two buses?  With two buses we could increase local donations to serve nearly 22,000 people, 2,500 more than before.

The response to our call to action was beyond any predictions.  Thanks to the visionary support of our donors, we now have the Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust Bus and the O. Rex Story Bus, or “Will” and “Rex” as they have affectionately come to be known. This pair of buses allows the blood center to serve two locations simultaneously, provides flexibility in the types of locations they can travel to, and helps diversify the types of businesses and community sites with which they partner.  This expanded fleet also increases visibility in the community and draws attention to the blood donation needs of northern Colorado.  We’re already experiencing the impact: this past May, the Garth Englund Blood Center didn’t have to purchase a single drop of supplemental blood supply to meet the needs in our communities. Through the blood buses’ expanded reach, they were able to secure enough blood products to care for each and every patient in need.

Bus 1
Donors enter the Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust Bus to give blood.

The Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust Bus is named for the lead donor who spurred this project into action. Don and May Wilkins moved to Fort Collins in 1937.  May contributed to the war effort as both a Certified Air Raid Warden — responsible for leading the citizens of Fort Collins in blackouts and air raid drills — and more meaningfully as a Red Cross Volunteer Nurse’s Aide and part-time director of the County’s Hospital Volunteer Nurses program.  Don was a newspaper editor, and between this role and May’s passion for caring for others and love of music, they were involved in the life blood of our community.

The O. Rex Story family in front of the brand-new bus.

The O. Rex Story Bus is named for Mr. O. Rex Story who had a rare blood disease and survived for many years because of the life-sustaining blood transfusions he received from family and friends donating at the Garth Englund Blood Center.  During his 12 year illness, the Fort Collins realtor received blood as often as every two weeks. Rex was just 58 years old when he passed away in 1992.  Rex’s surviving family and friends embraced the opportunity to support the mobile blood bus campaign as a way to say thank you to the community of physicians, the blood center team, and the selfless blood donors whose service and generosity meant so much to Rex and his family. To read more about this amazing story of giving click here.

At the dedication event on July 28th the foundation and the blood center celebrated the tremendous generosity and visionary support from our health system leadership that made this project such a gift to our community.

We honor the commitment of the leadership gifts which made these buses possible:

  • Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust
  • Rodney and Jamie Rice and friends and family of O. Rex Story
  • Advanced Medical Imaging Consultants
  • John and Sally Conway
  • Houska Automotive
  • Advance Tank & Construction Company
  • Northern Colorado Anesthesia Professionals
  • Dr. Robert Marschke and Diane Marschke
  • Wayne and Phyllis Schrader
  • Larry and Kay Edwards
  • Employees of UCHealth
  • Hospital Couriers of Denver
  • SuperVac, for the exterior wrap on the buses

And the many other contributions made in support of the blood buses.

One simple way to make a lasting difference

“I don’t have enough to make a difference.”

“I wish I could do more.”

These are comments we often hear from volunteers, donors and patients of our hospitals and clinics. Inspired by the quality of care in our facilities, they want to help ensure healthcare in northern Colorado is supported for years to come.

What if we say, “You can do something extraordinary”? We’re talking about the opportunity you have to make a planned gift. Unlike a cash gift, a planned gift is typically made from the assets you own rather than disposable income, and the support comes to fruition after your lifetime.

It is a misconception that making a planned gift is only for the wealthy. The truth is, even people of modest means can make a big difference.

Strange as it may sound, a planned gift can be simple to do and cost very little. The most common way is to name the PVH and MCR Foundation as a beneficiary in your IRA, life insurance policy, financial account or in your will.

Please consider this information as a starting point. With all charitable gifts, it is important to consult with your attorney or financial advisor to ensure that you comply with state laws, receive maximum tax benefits, and that your wishes are accurately reflected in necessary legal documents.

Every gift – no matter the size – is helpful. By informing us of your intentions to make a planned gift, you become a member of our Circle of Caring Legacy Society. If you’ve already done this, please contact us so we can thank and recognize you!

For more information please contact Annette Geiselman at 970.237.7404 or 

Miramont Lifestyle Fitness supports health through Colorado Moves to End Cancer

PrintFamily owned and operated, Miramont Lifestyle Fitness has been helping to create a healthier northern Colorado since 1979. With their five locations across Fort Collins and Loveland, Miramont is deeply involved in our community and has been a long-time supporter of the PVH and MCR Foundation.

One of the most significant ways Miramont supports health in our community is through their Colorado Moves to End Cancer program, which began in 2007 as the Chris Burge Tennis Classic.  This event was created in memory of Chris Burge, a Miramont Lifestyle Fitness member, friend to many, and avid tennis player.  Chris battled non-smoking lung cancer, but sadly lost her fight in 2007.

UC Health check presentation, 2016Colorado Moves to End Cancer has grown since its inception, with several events taking place throughout each year.  These events are designed to provide multiple opportunities for our community to be active, engage with others, and support two outstanding health organizations, the UCHealth Cancer Center in Fort Collins, and non-smoking lung cancer research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver.  The net proceeds from all of the Colorado Moves to End Cancer events are equally distributed to these two organizations and are funded through Miramont Cares, a 501(c)(3) organization, created in 2014. Cliff Buchholz, CEO of Miramont Lifestyle Fitness and founder of Miramont Cares says “I am incredibly pleased with how Colorado Moves to End Cancer aligns with the purpose and values established in Miramont Cares. As of December, 2016, with diligent work we have raised more than $310,000 for two prominent cancer centers. This is energizing and a step in the right direction for much needed services and research in northern Colorado.”

Miramont Cares feels strongly that by pulling together, we can contribute to eradicate cancer, and better the lives of those who are affected. Miramont Lifestyle Fitness facilities welcome anyone who is currently living with cancer or undergone treatment in the last six months to take advantage of their Cancer Wellness Membership, free of cost to the individual and a friend. For more information on the Cancer Wellness Membership, contact Membership at 970.672.4225.

The PVH and MCR Foundation is proud to partner with Miramont Lifestyle Fitness and deeply grateful for their generosity and commitment to raising cancer awareness in our community. We encourage you to consider participating in one of Colorado Moves to End Cancer’s events this year. Check out their calendar of fun and active 2017 events and contact Jolene Dolan at 970.440.7419 for questions or more information.



Scholarships and Starfish

Ruthie is a long term employee of both PVH and MCR, scholarship recipient, and founder of her own scholarship after experiencing the impact of generosity firsthand.  Below is Ruthie’s story, in her own words, from her keynote speech at the 2015 PVH and MCR Foundation Scholarship Reception.  To join us this year, mark your calendar for Thursday May 25th in MCR’s Longs Peak room.

My name is Ruthie Weyant and I am the proud donor of the “Ruthie Ann Weyant Can Do” scholarship. My mother always taught me “You can do anything you set your mind to, Ruthie. You just have to believe.” I have learned to live by this motto and when one adds the power of positive intention with a “can do” attitude, incredible accomplishments will occur.

My Perspective:
I am going to let this whole room in on a little secret. Next month, in June 2015, I will be celebrating my half century birthday…yes, that is the big 50. I will also celebrate being in the nursing profession for 29 years! These two facts combine so that I am qualified to say things like “Back in the day…” and “When I was in nursing school we had to walk uphill, in the snow, barefoot, both ways…” You get the picture. This kind of verbiage can create a “better than” attitude, but I am here to tell you that, actually, nurses like comparisons.

Being in nursing for so long has allowed me to experience the best ways to get nurses to buy in to some new idea or unit culture change: create a competition. I work in the Intensive Care Unit and we were doing competencies for critical care skills one time and the nurses were having problems placing a CPR machine known as the Autopulse on the patient in a timely manner. Anyone who has taken a CPR course or has ever been involved in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on another person has an understanding that timing is very important… the faster we start high quality compressions on that chest of the compromised person, the better the survival rate. Hence, when the critical care nurses were taking a whole 2 minutes to place the Autopulse in our critical care competencies, we knew this needed some work. We divided the whole group of ICU nurses into smaller groups of 34 nurses. We pulled out a stopwatch and said, “Whichever group can place the Autopulse correctly and effectively the fastest is the winner!” (that is the thing, too…you do not even need a tangible prize for us competitive nurses… just saying we are winners is enough to quench our comparative/competitive thirst). Guess how fast the winners were with their time?! 10 seconds!! These groups of nurses kept trying over and over to beat the last group’s time and the winners finally placed the Autopulse correctly and effectively at 10 seconds. This comparison and competition is an example of how nurses can effectively problem solve for a win-win situation; patient get placed on CPR apparatus within 10 seconds (win!) and the group of nurses who actually did this revels in the praise of winning (another win!).

Background for the Ruthie Ann Weyant ‘Can Do’ Scholarship:
In January 2005, I decided to pursue my dream of obtaining my Masters degree in Nursing. At the time, I was a single parent of 2 boys, ages 10 and 4. I took one class at a time, paying as I went through each course, and finished my 39 credit hours in December 2009. I took advantage of the then Poudre Valley Health System’s tuition reimbursement program which reimbursed me up to $3000.00 per year as long as I had grades of Cs or better. I also applied for a foundation scholarship every year and was the proud recipient of many of these over my 5 year educational journey. All in all, my total bill for my Masters degree was around $20,000. Tuition reimbursement and scholarship awards totaled $17,000, leaving me with a mere $3000.00 out of pocket expense. I was grateful for the assistance and appreciated those believing in me throughout the 5 years. I took my motto learned from my Mother of “I can do anything I put my mind to,” and combined it with a comparative and competitive edge of “If I can do it, you can do it!” and created my own ‘Can Do’ scholarship. Upon researching endowment possibilities for my scholarship, I discovered that the magic number for me was $17,000. (How ironic is this?! This is the same amount of assistance I received while in school!) Once I reach this amount of investment in my scholarship, I will never have to put any more money into it and the interest it would acquire each year would pay the $1000 scholarship I offer. I have $100 taken out of each paycheck and have been doing so since 2010 and my endowment balance becomes smaller and smaller each year. A total of 6 scholarships have been awarded since the initiation of this ‘Can Do’ scholarship so it becomes a win-win situation; someone receives money to help with educational goals (win!) and I get the satisfaction of giving back to the profession and saying “If I can do it, so can you!” (win!)

In conclusion, I want to share a story with you regarding a “can do” attitude. Once upon a time, there was a boy walking on the beach…

The Starfish Story
A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die,” the old man replies.

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it?  You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them! In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

– Anonymous


Supporting Health in Action: Our 2016 Blood Bus Campaign

In 2016 the PVH and MCR Foundation, spurred by a generous lead donor, undertook a community campaign to raise funds for two brand-new mobile blood donation buses for the Garth Englund Blood Center. The blood center is our community blood bank, collecting and supplying lifesaving blood products locally. This successful campaign illustrates the three fundamental ways that donors, giving through the PVH and MCR Foundation, support health right here in northern Colorado:

  1. Accelerating advances

The blood center’s former blood donation bus was on its last legs. The 13-year-old vehicle often spent more days in the shop than out collecting blood! The capability for the blood center to be mobile is critical to their success, as 75% of the blood they collect comes from mobile drives. Because of a large gift from a generous lead donor that spurred this campaign the PVH and MCR Foundation was able to significantly advance the timeline for having the bus replaced, moving it up from sometime in the next few years to mere months from when the campaign took shape.

  1. Filling in gaps

The foundation wasn’t able to just raise the funds to replace the old bus ahead of schedule, through the inspiring generosity of donors to the campaign we were also able to fund the purchase of an additional, smaller mobile donation bus with a 2-bed donation capacity. The second bus will exponentially increase the reach of the blood center, allowing for simultaneous blood drives at separate locations, increasing access by having a more agile bus to augment the large one, and providing the ability to mobilize both buses very quickly to address shortages or extreme high-demand situations.

  1. Expressing gratitude as part of the healing process

When you see the brand new 2-bed blood bus darting around town you may notice it’s named the O. Rex Story bus, and the story of how it came to be is a wonderful example of the power of philanthropy to express gratitude. O. Rex Story passed away in 1992 of a rare blood disease. The Fort Collins realtor was only 58 years old and had spent years receiving life-sustaining blood transfusions. In that time, friends and family members were able to donate at the Garth Englund Blood Center specifically for Rex’s transfusions. During his 12 year illness he was receiving blood as often as every two weeks. When the campaign for new mobile blood buses began former PVH and MCR Foundation Board Member Rod Rice and his wife Jamie, daughter of Rex, embraced the opportunity as a way to say thank you to the community of physicians, the blood center team, and the selfless blood donors whose service and generosity meant so much to Rex and his family. The O. Rex Story Family fund was set up at the foundation and word went out to Rex’s surviving family and close friends. They made a significant commitment of $100,000 to name the bus in Rex’s honor and opened up the fund for donations from those who meant the most to him. Now the mobile blood bus will carry forward the memory of O. Rex Story and the legacy of giving from his family and friends as it collects life-saving, and life-sustaining, blood donations in our community.


5 questions with Kevin Unger

kevin_tailgateKevin Unger, CEO of Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, is our fearless UCHealth leader here in northern Colorado and his roots in this community run deep – so deep, in fact, that he was actually born at PVH! Kevin is a graduate of Colorado State University, began working for University of Colorado Hospital in 1997, and has been a foundation donor since joining Poudre Valley Health System in 2001. He recently took some time out of his head-spinningly busy schedule to chat with us as we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year.

1. How does UCHealth benefit the northern Colorado region? UCHealth’s facilities improve healthcare in Northern Colorado, Longmont, Colorado Springs, and Metro Denver. The growing team of talented providers are ready to address every health need for the patients of the organization.

2. What kinds of challenges does Poudre Valley Hospital face in today’s healthcare landscape? A shift towards outpatient services can be difficult for any organization. Patient-centric care is becoming more important and less medical work is actually being done within the walls of UCHealth’s facilities.

3. What’s the most meaningful part of your job? I round regularly early in the morning to meet face-to-face with patients, it’s one of my favorite elements of the job. I truly enjoy interacting with employees and patients on a daily basis.

4. What is the most difficult part of your position? I wish I could be everywhere at once. I would love to be everywhere all the time. But, our region spans beyond our hometowns into neighboring states and it’s my responsibility to keep us all connected.

5. What do you think of the PVH and MCR Foundation and their impact on philanthropy within the culture of UCHealth? The foundation does great work for the culture within the organization with projects such as the Cancer Center, the Children’s Clinic, and the Blood Bus campaign. Employee giving and the foundation scholarship program display how committed the foundation is to the progressive development of the organization and its employees.

7 questions with Gail Aaronson

Gail Aaronson began working at Poudre Valley Hospital in 1972 and has seen plenty of changes in her 44 years with the organization. Originally hired as a registered nurse, she eventually worked her way to head nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) before moving into her current role as a Nurse Navigator. As the foundation celebrates our 40th anniversary this year we sat down with Gail to look back and learn more about her current role. Gail remembers the early days of the PVH and MCR Foundation (founded in 1976 as the Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation). She recalls the foundation providing support for scholarships and nurse education – both of which still happen today!

1. What does a Nurse Navigator do? Cardiac Nurse Navigators are responsible for meeting with patients who are suffering from heart failure. They provide resources for the potentially long battle with heart disease.

2. What does the typical day look like for a Nurse Navigator?  Booking appointments, providing resources, and face-to-face patient interactions are all part of a day’s work. Normally Nurse Navigators follow up with their patients every 24 to 48 hours.

3. What is the most difficult part of your position? Motivating individuals to take care of themselves once they leave the walls of the hospital. For example, taking their medication on time, eating healthy, and exercising.

4. It sounds like building relationships with your patients is key for a Nurse Navigator, what is the most challenging part of that aspect of your role? Building rapport with the patients can be difficult because of the environment they find themselves in. Sometimes, communicating with patients once they leave the walls of the hospital can be quite the challenge to overcome.

5. How does your position benefit the patients of UCHealth? The Nurse Navigator position provides patients with resources that are very valuable. Patients with a nurse navigator normally rate their care very highly because of the intense personal relationship they develop with their selected navigator.

6. What does philanthropy mean to you? Giving back to the people around you and building a healthy community based on a good ethical code. Philanthropy addresses the root cause of the problem.

7. What kind of impact does UCHealth have on the community of Fort Collins and how has it changed over the years? UCHealth has developed a great reputation in the state of Colorado. The Poudre Valley Health System has been in northern Colorado for many years and is an organization recognized by nearly everyone.

Gail at work in the Poudre Valley Hospital ICU in the 1970s.