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Avera Guardian Awards

Thank you to our generous supporters and community partners for furthering the mission of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center. As an extension of gratitude, the Avera McKennan Foundation hosts the annual Avera Guardian Awards to recognize key donors and celebrate all those who support the mission.

Watch our Guardian Award being made and see our past winners.

Avera Spirit Award

Mike Dougherty

Given in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated long-term dedication to the mission of Avera McKennan. Their exceptional commitment continues to further our healing ministry and make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities.

Mike Dougherty is a native of Sioux Falls and has supported a number of Avera McKennan Foundation capital campaigns. Most notable is a lead gift in 2007 to build the Dougherty Hospice House. Dougherty has also made a significant impact on other campaigns such as the Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community Campaign for the Sacred Heart Chapel in honor of long-time friend, Jeremiah Murphy.

In addition to the Dougherty Hospice House, Dougherty is also credited with founding the Prostate Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota and the Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas. The new Dougherty College has over 100 students enrolled in 2017 that otherwise would not be entering college due to financial limitations or life circumstances.

Throughout the years, Dougherty has received numerous awards and recognitions such as the Regents Award at the University of Minnesota, the Cade Entrepreneur Award at the University of St. Thomas and is a part of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

Thank you for your dedication to the mission of Avera McKennan.

Helen McKennan Award

Sandra Pay

Given in recognition of leadership and inspiration that extends past the mission of Avera McKennan to influence and impact the loyal community and beyond.

Sandra is a dedicated supporter of numerous Avera McKennan Foundation capital campaigns. She also served as co-chair for the Little Footprints, Big Hearts: Campaign for Avera NICU. She also supported the Caring for Community: Campaign for Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community and Avera Reaching Kids.

She is a former member and current chair of the Avera McKennan Foundation Board of Directors and past member of the Avera McKennan Hospital Board of Trustees. She also serves as a member on community boards such as the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Downtown Rotary Club and is president of the Sioux Falls Arts Council.

Sandra is dedicated in taking on leadership roles to guide campaigns. Currently, she is serving on the steering committee for the Dougherty Hospital House Endowment Campaign.

Thank you for your dedication to the mission of Avera McKennan.

Cornerstone Award

Great Western Bank - Ken Karels

Recognizes a business whose demonstrated outstanding commitment to Avera McKennan. This organization has established a strong internal culture of philanthropy, an ideal characteristic of a community partner.

Great Western Bank has been a loyal partner with a strong mission to provide outstanding care and long-term relationships with the community. They have served as a corporate sponsor for the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer in addition to forming a business team that has raised over $55,000 over the past six years.

Has supported the Avera Family Wellness program and is a major contributor to the Milbank Community Hospital capital campaign. Great Western Bank also believes in giving back to the community through grants to help people get access to financial well-being by providing career readiness skills.

Thank you for your dedication to the mission of Avera McKennan.

Compass Award

Compassion In Action

Honors community members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and key roles in advancing the foundation's development goals.

The foundation presents this award to three very special families who have formed the non-profit charity organization, Compassion In Action. Kerry Kamfers, Eric Maas and Marianne Plucker are representing Compassion In Action and play a large role in their fundraising success.

Each touched by cancer, the group was formed in 2010 and has since raised over $200,000 to support patients and families battling blood disorder cancers and/or awaiting a bone marrow transplant with financial assistance for additional expenses associated with their illness.

Compassion In Action hosts numerous fundraising events through the years, including their annual golf tournament and rummage sales.

Thank you for your dedication to the mission of Avera McKennan.

Past Winners

Avera Spirit Award
  • Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Walter Panzirer, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
  • Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD
Helen McKennan Award
  • Bill Dougherty
  • Jeremiah Murphy
  • Jim Woster
  • Tom and Kathy Walsh
  • Avera Medical Group Radiology
  • Cindy Walsh
  • Christine Hellekson
  • Pat McGreevy
Cornerstone Award
  • Sioux Falls Construction-Randy Knecht
  • Sodak Distributing-Mike Brzica
  • The First National Bank in Sioux Falls-Bob Baker
  • Sioux Falls Ford Lincoln-Randy Nehring
  • Holiday-Gas Stop-Tom and Melissa Howes
  • Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota-Phil Davis
  • Hy-Vee Food Stores-Bob Trader
  • Eide Bailly
Compass Award
  • Paul Connelly
  • Lisa Griffin
  • Joe Henkin
  • Judy Davis
  • Peggy Kirby
  • Susan Scott
  • Brad Grossenburg
  • Dr. Patty Peters
  • Dave Fleck
  • Ted Muenster
  • Father Ed Anderson
  • Michael and Janice O'Connor
  • Robert and Bobbette Anderson

Creating 'The Guardian' Award

The recognition ceremony featured a special presentation of a custom-crafted award. The award is a replica of a sculpture once located on the Avera McKennan campus. Appropriately titled "The Guardian", the one-foot bronze piece was given to individuals as a gesture of appreciation for their contributions. Watch this video featuring the casting of the bronze sculpture.

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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.

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Avera McKennan Foundation

P.O. Box 5045
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5045
Phone: 605-322-8900
Fax: 605-322-8905

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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