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The Grateful Patient Program

Few things in life are more important than health. Each gift to Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center furthers our mission of providing quality care to patients and their families while supporting our community. Because of you, we are privileged to help people through some of life's most important moments. Take a moment to read how your gift changes lives.

About the Program

The Grateful Patient Program allows patients and their families to honor health care workers, staff and volunteers through recognition and financial support. This program provides our patients and their families with the opportunity to show their appreciation in a way that assures future patients will continue to receive outstanding care.

How to Make a Gift and Recognize a Care Giver

Gifts made to honor a care givers and staff may be directed to a specific program or facility that was paramount in your experience with us or have special significance to you and your family. If you would like to honor your someone who made a difference in your stay, donate online now.

Grateful Patients

Bob & Bobette Bob and Becky Horstmeyer FamilyTrudy Peckham Piper Blomker ChristopherLisa Ladenburger Kendon Robert & Christine

Support Times Two

Bob & Bobette near waterfall windowMy wife and I have been married for over 40 years and are used to sharing. But you never get used to sharing something like cancer.

In 2007, my wife, Bobette was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing extensive treatment and surgery, she was declared cancer free. But the celebration did not last long in our house. Just three years later, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I, too, received aggressive treatment in addition to a bone marrow transplant. Thankfully, my disease is in remission.

Two cancer diagnoses within three years would be extremely difficult for any family. Thanks to the high quality care of Avera, we are enjoying healthy lives together with our loved ones.

To show our appreciation, we made a gift to support the healing mission of Avera and recognize the caregivers that made a difference in our lives.

Keeping the Spirit Alive

Hospice Story

The holidays can be a tough time for those grieving the loss of a loved one. For Bob Vander Tuig, he knew the holidays would be harder than most after losing his wife, Becky, to pancreatic cancer.

Around Thanksgiving he came up with a plan to help him and honor the care they received during Becky's 15-month battle. As a local business owner, he planned a special promotion. The deal; if customers contribute to her endowment at the Avera McKennan Foundation they receive a discount.

Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and the general community, they surpassed their goal within a week and ended up contributing over $13,000 to benefit patients and families at Avera Children's Hospital. Through the generosity of the community, Becky's spirit remains alive by helping those in need. Thank you to all those for making wishes come true. Watch video >>

Appreciating Hope and Healing

From routine check-ups to early detection of a serious illness, your physician is there for you. Often times, you develop a close relationship with your doctor and trust them to guide you to make the right decisions for the health of you and your family.

For the Horstmeyers, they have entrusted Avera physicians with the health of both their children. They share their story of appreciation in hopes that you make a gift to recognize a physician in honor of National Doctors' Day on March 30.

"My family is so grateful for the wonderful team of physicians who have been there for us throughout both journeys. When our son was born with multiple disabilities, we had the best doctors in the world caring for him throughout his short life.

In December 2014, my husband and I welcomed a new healthy baby girl and couldn't be happier. We named her Natalie, which means Christmas, because that was the day she was born.

Even though this experience is completely different than the path we walked with our son Sam, we couldn't be more grateful for the expertise of our physicians."

Please consider supporting patients and families like us by making a gift in honor of a physician who has touched your life. We are forever grateful for your gifts and know first-hand how special it is to them to read your words of appreciation.

Your dollars are put to work immediately, strengthening our Gospel values and ensuring quality care is available to all in our community. Gifts to honor physicians will not be used to benefit them but rather to support patients and families.

Comfort and Kindness

Trudy PeckhamHaving recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, John and Trudy Peckham spent their days with family and friends while being active in the community.

When Trudy needed hospice care, John turned to the Dougherty Hospice House with great confidence to care for his beloved wife. He remained by her side ten hours a day for five months. During that time, he witnessed first-hand the gift of hospice care at Avera.

"The kindness we received at the Dougherty Hospice House was unreal. Everyone, including the caregivers, volunteers and housekeepers, treated our family with such love. It was comforting to know Trudy was being taken care of in the best place, by the best people. Thank you to those who have made this possible and I hope others consider supporting this much-needed service to the community."

This is your chance to make a gift that supports this type of compassionate hospice care right here in your community.

Love at First Sight

Piper BlomkerBut even though she was small, her spirit was big. Having spent time at Children’s Care Hospital & School, she was admitted to Avera Children’s Hospital for a complete evaluation in hopes to help her overcome the numerous obstacles and medical issues she suffered due to her prematurity. It would be a long road for Piper. But during this time, she managed to win over the hearts of a Sioux Falls family whose daughter was a volunteer at Children’s Care. It was love at first sight for the Blomker family; they understood and supported Piper in treating her medical conditions. For months, Piper received treatment at Avera Children’s, but eventually she went home -- to her new family; the Blomker’s obtained legal guardianship in 2009.

For the next few years, Piper continued traveling down her long road to recovery, often facing frequent visits, treatments and appointments at Avera Children’s. But the family continued to appreciate the care and support of Avera; from the chaplaincy services to the child life specialists, they are thankful for the love and care everyone has provided. Today, Piper is an active little girl with a bright future and even brighter smile.

Thanks to the support of our loyal partners, the generous community and successful events like The Big Grape Reserve, children and families at Avera Children's can continue to receive the best quality care.

*Portrait courtesy of Evans Portrait Gallery

Little Miracle

ChristopherA roller coaster ride; that’s how Nadia describes her life since giving birth to her son Christopher, who was welcomed three weeks premature and with multiple health issues. Almost one year and 100 surgeries later, the ride hasn’t ended. Thankfully, the care givers at Avera Children’s Hospital have been sitting alongside little Christopher, who’s also proven to be more than willing to hop on board and hold on tight.

Although he still suffers from the congenital defect that affected his cranial development, Christopher has weathered numerous procedures and surgeries and is still known to frequent the halls of Avera Children’s for regular appointments. Today, he’s overcoming obstacles and developmental delays but is slowly gaining weight despite having problems with his airway, esophagus and digestive system. He’s referred to as “little miracle” by his mother, who continues to be amazed of his progress and is forever grateful for the life saving care he receives yet today.

Thanks to the support of our loyal partners, the generous community and successful events like The Big Grape Reserve, children and families at Avera Children's can continue to receive the best quality care.

* Portrait courtesy of Evans Portrait Gallery

Diagnosed with Inspiration

Lisa LadenburgerFor breast cancer survivor Lisa Ladenburger, her diagnosis inspired her to further her education, open a business and ultimately, change the lives of other women affected by the disease. After researching final treatment options for herself, she soon realized she could be part of other women’s final phase. So she went to school and now runs a successful business that helps mastectomy patients.

Today, she enjoys working with other patients and is thankful every day for what she has. “You have to take one day at a time, and depending on your treatment, one hour or one moment at a time,” she says. “I feel passionately about the Avera Race and have hope that someday young women will not have to go through my same struggles.”


KendonIn 2010, a simple case of sour stomach led a young family of six on a journey that would end with a new outlook on life. But with his loving parents Martha and Marti by his side, Kendon bravely faced his future; certainly not letting the need for a new organ slow his spirits down.

After being admitted to Avera Children’s Hospital, the medical team worked quickly to save his life; ridding excess fluid from his heart and performing vital tests and scans. It was shortly after when he was officially diagnosed with a deadly heart condition and they began to treat his symptoms. But the disease was progressing very quickly. Soon, the word “heart transplant” was first brought up to the young parents.

Kendon was put on the transplant waiting list and was fortunate to have received a healthy heart after a mere three months. And even though Kendon’s life has been altered by heavy medications with various side effects, he’s started school and is doing great. So much so that since receiving his new heart, the once-shy Kendon earned the nickname “Braveheart” for having a breakthrough both medically and socially. Today, Kendon continues to gain strength and has the talented team of care givers at Avera Children’s to credit for his life.

Thanks to the support of our loyal partners, the generous community and successful events like The Big Grape Reserve, children and families at Avera Children's can continue to receive the best quality care.

*Portrait courtesy of Evans Portrait Gallery

A Place to Stay, a Place to Pray

Week after week, month after month, Robert Stack spent countless hours by his wife Christine’s bedside as she recovered from a bone marrow transplant last January. Living 400 miles away, he stayed at the village and eventually became a regular. During Christine’s journey with cancer, Robert appreciated the care and compassion he received during his time at the village. Calling them “house moms,” Stack managed to laugh through the tears as he recalled the overwhelming emotions of his experience with the house coordinators at the village.

Today, he still feels blessed for the care his wife received and the opportunity he was given to stay at a place like the Walsh Family Village. As a true demonstration of dedication to the mission, caregivers and family rallied around as a pajama-clad Robert renewed his vows to his beloved wife while she was in the hospital. On behalf of the Stacks and the foundation, thank you to everyone who has made a gift to support the Walsh Family Village.

As a health ministry rooted in the Gospel, Avera lives out its values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship every day. The Walsh Family Village demonstrates all three of these values– especially hospitality. Built in 2008 from philanthropic donations the village continues to rely on philanthropy to fund the ongoing needs for its patients and families. But additional support remains a priority. Operating at full capacity, often times the suggested daily rate of $50 is waived. Yet the doors remain open for families such as the Stacks, who’ve made the village their “home away from home” for over six months.

Donate Online

Every gift to Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center furthers our mission to provide the best quality care to patients and their families while remaining dedicated to serving our local community by providing care to all, regardless of ability to pay. You can be part of our healing ministry through your gift.

Make a Gift Today

Avera McKennan Foundation

1325 S. Cliff Avenue, Suite 205
P.O. Box 5045
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5045
Phone: 605-322-8900
Fax: 605-322-8905

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