Barre Serviceman Comes Home to Motorcycle Prize

Medic won Gifford’s Last Mile Ride Harley Davidson Raffle while Serving in Afghanistan

Cody Flanagan

From left to right, Wilkins Harley-Davidson owner Barbara Wilkins, co-owner John Lyon, Tim Flanagan, Vermont Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin; front: Cody Flanagan

When specialist Cody Flanagan, a medic with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, arrived home on holiday leave Sunday, a visit to Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre was high on his list of things to do.

He’d been waiting since August to climb onto the seat of a shiny new Harley Sportster 48, the raffle prize from Gifford Medical Center’s Last Mile Ride, an annual fundraiser to support patients in advanced illness or at the end of life.

Cody knew the bike well: his dad had taken him riding on the same model when he was a kid, and he’d posed with it for his senior photo in the Spaulding High School yearbook.

But he was surprised by a crowd the Wilkins family had gathered to welcome him in style on Tuesday afternoon. Gifford staff and volunteers, Wilkins staff, and even Vermont’s Lt. Governor Phil Scott cheered and enjoyed pizza and cake.

“Community support like this is really nice,” Cody said. “A surprise party was not expected!”

Last August he’d been in Afghanistan just a month, and was dealing with the recent loss of a battalion team member. Back home his father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, purchased four raffle tickets the night before participating in Gifford’s Last Mile Run.

“I bought four tickets and put two in Cody’s name,” Flanagan said. “The odds were 4 in 100 for a win, so I called him in Afghanistan to see if he would want the cash or the bike if we won.”

Cody wanted the bike, and when his name was pulled at the raffle drawing, one family’s joy rippled through to everyone witnessing the event.

“It really was an emotional moment,” says Linda Chugkowski, a Gifford board member who has done the Last Mile Ride for seven years. “Tim could hardly speak when Cody’s name was pulled— as the story moved through the crowd, people started clapping and then rose in a standing ovation. Tears were coming down all the faces.”

Tim Flanagan says it was a storybook ending. “It was meant to be. Now it’s so nice to have him home and safe. We can all sleep– we don’t have to worry about getting any calls.”

Gifford’s Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride, and 80-mile motorcycle ride. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be August 14 and 15, 2015. For more information, please contact Ashley Lincoln at alincoln@giffordmed.org.

Giving

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Gifford givingEach year, we ask our friends to consider supporting Gifford. As a nonprofit community hospital, Gifford truly appreciates your gifts. With your support, we are able to provide high quality patient experiences.

But did you know there are other ways to support the hospital that could be more beneficial for you? Gifford has planned giving options that help the medical center while also providing for your financial future. Including Gifford in your will, for example, means you’re leaving a lasting legacy. A charitable gift annuity means you will receive a fixed income for life.

Gifford is a stable, growing organization with a strong infrastructure; in other words, we’re a safe investment. When it comes to charitable gift annuities, the hospital has set aside assets to secure our promise to pay the annuity, and your return is not affected by market volatility.

There are many ways to invest in your community medical center. Please consult with your financial advisor and interested family members about these options before making a gift. It would be my pleasure to provide you more details with absolutely no obligation from you. Please call me at 728-2380 to begin the discussion.

It’s our job here at Gifford to provide the best care possible to patients. It’s my job to help support that outstanding care by connecting community members like you with Gifford. For many, it will be a friendship of shared values and financial security that will last for years to come.

I look forward to beginning that friendship with you.

~ Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development

Concerts Conclude with Jeanne & The Hi-Tops, Randolph Center Fire Department Barbecue

Randolph Center fire truck

On display as part of the final concert of the summer at Gifford on Tuesday will be the Randolph Center Fire Department’s new rescue tanker, pictured here in front of the Randolph Center station. The fire department is also putting on a community barbecue. All events start at 6 p.m.

Gifford and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce community concert series ends Aug. 26 with a special performance from Jeanne & The Hi-Tops and a special barbecue from the Randolph Center Fire Department.

Firefighters from the volunteer department will be grilling up and selling hamburgers and hotdogs while Jeanne & The Hi-Tops perform old time rock and roll. Both events start at 6 p.m.

Jeanne & The Hi-Tops is a six-member band from central Vermont that first came together in the early 1990s. Their musical journey has led them down many alleys of inspiration, including New Orleans funk, Memphis soul, Kansas City swing, Chicago blues, Tex-Mex, reggae and the swamp-pop/zydeco sounds of the Louisiana bayou. Today, the group describes its style as driving rhythms and good-natured grooves.

The band includes lead vocalist Jeanne McCullough, guitarists Cannon Labrie and Terry Cantlin, horn player and MC Jack Kruse, David Indenbaum on bass and Michael Bradshaw on drums.

While the band gets its groove on, the fire department will also have its new rescue tanker on hand for children and people of all ages to see and sit in. The department took delivery of the 2013 International on May 1. It holds 1,800 gallons of water plus rescue tools, such as the jaws of life. The tools are pre-connected and stored in the front bumper for quick access and quick help in an emergency.

The firefighters noted they will also have gear on hand for spectators to see.

Money raised at the barbecue will go to the department’s fireman’s fund, said Chief Ken Preston.

“Benefits from these sales will go toward purchasing equipment that we couldn’t otherwise afford,” Preston said.

The community concert series in the park at Gifford is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane, the Frankenburg Agency, and the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

The concerts typically go until 7:30 p.m. and also feature a farmers market. Spectators are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or picnic table, an appetite, and family and friends. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org or call (802) 728-2339.

Last Mile Ride Raises $60,000

Last Mile Ride

Runners take off for the Last Mile Ride 5K and walk on Friday at Gifford in Randolph. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Fueled by compassion, 154 runners and walkers, 201 motorcyclists and 38 cyclists gathered at Gifford Medical Center on Friday and Saturday for the Last Mile Ride, raising $60,000 for area residents in life’s last mile.

Now in its ninth year, the Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride and 80-mile motorcycle ride. The annual event raises money for Gifford patients in and out of the hospital who are in advanced illness or at the end of life. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave for the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Janet Miller)

This year marked both a record number of participants – 386 in total – and a record amount of money raised. It was also an event fraught with emotional highs and lows.

The event included a Harley-Davidson raffle. Cody Flanagan, 19, from Barre won the bike from Wilkins Harley-Davidson, but wasn’t there to receive it. He is in Afghanistan.

His father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, who bought two tickets in Cody’s name accepted on his behalf. The older Flanagan got out that his son was in Afghanistan before breaking down. He received a standing ovation.

Last Mile Ride

Motorcyclists wind their way through central Vermont as part of the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Alison White)

“I was just ecstatic and overwhelmed for Cody,” Tim Flanagan said Monday. “I just felt it was a storybook kind of finish. It was meant to be.”

Cody, a medic airborne ranger, who graduated from Spaulding High School a year early, joined the U.S. Army two years ago at age 17. He has been in Afghanistan a month. His battalion just lost a member on Aug. 12 and has been on an emotional low.

Tim Flanagan called his son in Afghanistan from the ride to tell him he had won. It was around midnight there and he was exhausted, but excited. “He’s quite ecstatic. He’s thrilled,” said his father, noting it has been a morale booster for the unit.

The moment was reminiscent of the cause, which uplifts families in difficult situations.

Last Mile Ride

Margaret Gish of Sharon races back toward Gifford in the fastest among a female at 20:49.7. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Robin Morgan spoke at the 5K and walk on Friday evening. She lost her step-father Michael Durkee to an aggressive cancer in May 2013. He spent his last days in the Garden Room – Gifford’s garden-side end-of-life care suite.

“Being in the Garden Room, we all got to be together. They were so supportive of us,” Morgan said. “They gave us food, (and) everything you can possibly imagine.”

Morgan and her family walked in the Last Mile last year and again this year. Morgan pushed her two young children in a double-stroller. “It (the Last Mile Ride) is a big part of my life now,” she said, before rushing to embrace her mom and Michael Durkee’s widow, Joan Durkee.

Last Mile Ride

Last Mile walkers return to Gifford Friday evening. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Palliative care nurse John Young on Saturday at the motorcycle and cycle ride spoke of the privilege of working at a hospital that supports palliative care and how lucky the hospital is to have the community’s support.

Physician assistant Starr Strong remembered her friend Judy Alexander who was “an incredible nurse, wonderful friend and mother.” A “Harley chick” and past participant of the Last Mile Ride, Alexander died in April of cancer.

Her family received assistance from the Last Mile Ride fund.

Last Mile Ride

Philip Tenney of Northfield walks over the finish line of the Last Mile Ride 5K. He came in last (1:00:14.0) but was first in many participants’ eyes. Three weeks earlier he had a lifesaving kidney transplant. (Provided/Alison White)

“It made her passing much richer because of the support from the Last Mile Ride,” Strong said, encouraging those present to recognize both the importance of their contribution “because you never know when it’s your turn” and to “celebrate life.”

The event also included the raffle of a bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester. Richard Polarek, 88, from Brookfield won the bicycle. And a queen-size quilt made by Gifford nursing staff was won by motorcyclist Cherry Lloyd of Randolph.

Prizes were also given out for the events top fund-raisers and the top 5K finishers.

The fastest male finishers were Christopher Gish of Sharon (16:37.9), David Mattern of Tunbridge (18:47.6) and Zachery McDermott of Randolph (20:26.0). The fastest female finishers were Margaret Gish of Sharon (20:49.7), Becky Olmstead of Bethel (23:58:4) and Stacy Pelletier of Braintree (24:11.7). See a full list of race results online at www.begoodsports.com/race-results/.

Last Mile Ride

Smiling motorcyclist

The top 5K fund-raiser was Kyla Grace of Randolph and the top walk fund-raiser was Penny Maxfield of East Roxbury. The top cyclist fund-raiser was Cory Gould of Worcester. And the top motorcycle fund-raisers were Linda Chugkowski and Robert Martin of Northfield who collectively raised $4,000 for the cause and Reg Mongeur of Randolph who raised more than $3,500.

Mongeur spent many evenings at Shaw’s in Randolph collecting for the cause.

“I have the time and the desire,” said Mongeur of why he made the effort. “I’ve lost quite a few family members in the Garden Room and quite a few vets went through there.

“It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” said Mongeur, who also coordinated road guard efforts for the ride as a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 26-2.

Last Mile Ride

Runners, from front, Richard Kozlowski, Stacy Pelletier and Becky Olmstead race along Route 12 toward Beanville Road. (Provided/Alison White)

This year’s ride, he said, was “beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.” Riders returning it called it “the best.”

As top fund-raisers, Chugkowski and Martin won four Red Sox tickets and VIP tour of Fenway thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox and Froggy 100.9. Mongeur won four tickets to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to see the Sylvania 300 thanks to the generosity of the Loudon, N.H., organization.

Many other prizes were given out, thanks to the generosity of local and regional businesses. The event also received record sponsorship support, including from major sponsors The Frankenburg Agency, Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank and Wilkins Harley-Davidson.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 14 and 15, 2015.

Another Labor of Love

Betsy Dawn quilt

Betsy Hannah, left, and Dawn DeCoff and her daughter, Hayley DeCoff, 10, right, pose with the beautiful quilt they made as an annual raffle item for the Last Mile Ride.

Each year the Last Mile Ride also features a quilt made by Gifford’s nursing staff and raffled off as part of the ride.

This year’s gorgeous queen-size scrappy star quilt is made by licensed practical nurse Betsy Hannah and licensed nursing assistant Dawn DeCoff as well as DeCoff’s young daughter, Hayley.

The elaborate quilt took the trio about two months to complete, and the machine quilting was donated by Piece of Mind Quilting in Canaan, N.H.

DeCoff has helped make a quilt for the ride since its inception and Hannah has helped the last several years. Both also donate quilts to other community causes.

“I love sewing. It relaxes me. It’s one of my many past-times,” says Hannah. “It’s great to be able to give things (to the community).”

This year’s quilt took on extra special meaning after her husband, Jim, died in November and Hannah received Last Mile Ride funds.

For DeCoff, it is also the cause that motivates her. As a part of Gifford’s inpatient care team, she sees the funds help families firsthand.

Tickets for the quilt – along with a new bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester and a new Harley from Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre – are on sale at the hospital Gift Shop and in the Marketing Department and will be for sale at the ride.

A Spoonful of Thanks: Message from the Development Director

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

spoonful of thanksGifford’s is a story steeped in tradition, and one that has only grown more positive in recent years. As director of fund-raising efforts, telling that story of a small hospital making it and improving year after year despite the odds is such a privilege.

In 2013, that is even more true. We’re celebrating another year of major achievements, including “making” budget, earning Federally Qualified Health Center status allowing us to soon provide enhanced primary care to the community and receiving all approvals needed to move forward with the construction of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.

In 2014, moving forward on our Senior Living Community and private patient rooms will become a major focus for the Development Office, Development Committee and our new Campaign Steering Committee.

These committees are comprised of hardworking volunteers. The project has already generated much excitement from both donors and from community members hoping to one day make this community home.

Over time, the Senior Living Community will include the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, independent living units and assisted living units. This vision allows our friends and neighbors to age in place rather than leaving their community for similar housing.

Constructing the nursing home, building infrastructure for the entire community and creating private inpatient rooms, however, will take community support. This support is already being demonstrated among the Gifford community, including our Auxiliary, Board and Medical Staff, and soon will be an exciting public campaign where community members can help make this project a reality through financial investments.

Ours is a community that supports its hospital and patients. We continue to have remarkable success each year with our annual fund and once again we have raised a record amount in support of end-of-life care through the Last Mile Ride – our charity motorcycle ride held each year on the third Saturday in August. Participants, volunteers and local business sponsors make this event possible and so positive for our hospital and community. We look forward to continuing and growing this (now) Randolph tradition in 2014.

As always, there are many ways to support Gifford – as a donor, as a patient, as an employee and as a volunteer both at the medical center and through the Auxiliary. I welcome your inquiries on how you can become involved in our story of success and in bettering patients’ lives.

~ Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development

Patient and Giving Statistics

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
Gifford financial giving 2013

Categories of giving by type

Each year Gifford is fortunate to receive generous gifts from our friends. Gifts are made to benefit specific purposes, such as technology or services, or to the general fund. The Last Mile Ride, which raises money for end-of-life care, continues to grow in popularity and benefits patients and their families. The pie chart shows the donations – all of which are greatly appreciated.

Gifford financial giving

Gifford Staff Raise $520 for March of Dimes

Blue Jeans for Babies

Blue Jeans for BabiesGifford Medical Center employees raised $520 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies” on Friday.

The Randolph medical center and its outlying health clinics participate each year in March in the fund-raiser, which allows employees who donate $5 to the March of Dimes to wear jeans to work for the day.

This year more than 100 employees participated.

The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.

Roger Clapp, March of Dimes Vermont Chapter director, thanked hospital employees for their participation in the fund-raiser and – as a medical center with a renowned Birthing Center – for their work toward healthy births. “The March of Dimes recognizes the care and commitment to excellence among the Gifford Medical Center team that contributes to Vermont’s national lead in healthy birth outcomes. We’re particularly thankful to be able to reinvest the staff’s fund-raising proceeds to give every baby in Vermont a healthier start,” Clapp said.

“Gifford is pleased to be able to partner with the March of Dimes on initiatives to support prenatal and infant health,” said Robin Palmer, a member of Gifford’s Marketing Department who organizes the hospital’s effort. “Employees are truly excited to both support a cause close to our hearts and wear jeans to work. It’s something we look forward to all year.”

Other businesses wishing to wear “Blue Jeans for Babies” can contact the March of Dimes here in Vermont at (802) 560-3239.

Gifford is also a sponsor of the central Vermont March for Babies walk upcoming on May 4 at Montpelier High School. Sign-up online at www.marchfordimes.com/vermont or by calling.

Auxiliary Awards $19,000 to Gifford Departments

Auxiliary Award

Materials clerk Tina Brady uses a new handheld scanning device to quickly inventory supplies on one of many carts located throughout the medical center. The device is a gift from the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary and greatly improves the department’s efficiency.

The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is turning Thrift Shop earnings into major support for the community’s local hospital.

The Auxiliary has funded more than $19,000 worth of “wish list” equipment requests spanning multiple departments at the hospital and greatly benefiting patient care.

Funded were:

  • Lending library books for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
  • Multiple pieces of equipment, from IV poles to portable oxygen saturation monitors to cardiac chairs for the inpatient hospital units
  • A handheld scanning device for the medical center’s Materials Management Department
  • Pulse oximeters for primary care offices
  • Play equipment and furniture for The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center
  • Lead shield aprons for the Sharon Health Center
  • A changing table and digital scale for the Twin River Health Center

The Auxiliary historically has awarded “wish list” items to the hospital, meaning departments put their wishes in the form of funding requests to the Auxiliary. Auxiliary board members review the list and award what they can. This round the board fully funded the “wish list.”

Materials Management was granted a “wish list” item for the first time in memory. The scanning device is used to inventory supplies around the medical center, explained department supervisor James Shodunke Jr. It replaces a 15-year-old unit that didn’t meet the department’s needs, so staff had been taking notes with pen and paper.

As a staff member counts supplies around the medical center with the new device, which the department had been trialing, prints a report back in the materials holding area showing supply needs, meaning other staff members can immediately begin filling that supply order. The change in the busy department means a task that previously could have taken an hour and 15 minutes now takes less than 30 minutes.

“It greatly improves our efficiency and expedites the restocking process, which reduces interruptions in patient care,” Shodunke said.

Gifford’s inpatient unit received the bulk – $11,500 – of this round’s funding.

“The staff and nursing leadership of Howell Pavilion (Gifford’s inpatient unit) are very thankful for the extremely generous grants given by the Auxiliary. Many patients will benefit from the numerous requests, such as sturdier chairs for patient rooms, electronic vital sign monitoring system and alternative treatments for pain. The gifts will be a big help for both patients and staff. We would like to thank the Auxiliary for all of their hard work and support by granting our many requests,” said Alison White, vice president of patient care services.

Auxiliary board members Ruth Lutz, treasurer, and Nancy Gray, historian, walked around the medical center on Wednesday making in-person announcements to department staff that they had been funded.

Lutz was excited by the response from the departments. “They were so pleased,” she said.

Gray found the experience rewarding because of the inside look she got at the medical center and its many, diverse services.

But Lutz and Gray were quick to point out that it wasn’t they who were making the gift to the medical center, but rather the full Auxiliary and all who shop at the Thrift Shop. “We’re so fortunate to be able to do this because of what the Thrift Shop brings in,” Gray said.

Bowling Tournament Raises Funds for Mammograms

bowling tournament for breast cancer awareness

Teresa Bradley of Braintree, left, and Krista Warner pose at the Valley Bowl in Randolph. The duo organized a fifth bowling tournament recently to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for mammograms at their local hospital, Gifford Medical Center. (Provided/Robin Palmer)

What started as a senior project has grown into an annual tradition.

Four years ago, Krista Warner, then a local high school senior, organized a bowling tournament to support Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund with the help of her aunt, Teresa Bradley of Braintree.

Warner of Randolph is now long out of high school, but the duo continues to organize the tournament to support local mammograms in the name of Warner’s grandmother and Bradley’s mother, Ruth Brown. Brown had several forms of cancer, including breast cancer in 1993 and lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in 2011.

A mammogram diagnosed her breast cancer.

“If she hadn’t had it, we would have lost her back in 1993,” says Bradley with conviction. “That mammogram gave her another 18 years.”

Following her death, Warner and Bradley renamed their tournament the Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament. This year’s tournament – their fifth – raised $857, which they recently gave to their local hospital.

The top fund-raiser in this year’s event was Patty Grueteke. Nate Olmstead won the tournament.

Bradley thanked Valley Bowl and Bob’s M & M for donating prizes as well as all of the bowlers all who participated. “It’s awesome that they come out and do it. They’re very enthusiastic,” Bradley said, adding, “It’s a good tournament. We have a good time, plus we’re raising money for people who are less fortunate.”

Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund pays for mammograms for low-income women not covered by other programs, such as Ladies First, and buys soft pads that go on the mammography machine to make mammograms more comfortable for all women.

“We want to encourage women to have their annual mammograms. Providing a more comfortable and more affordable experience helps substantially. We are so appreciative of Krista and Teresa for working hard each year to support this shared cause, raise awareness and bring a fun event to our community,” Gifford Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln said.

The Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament is held at Valley Bowl in Randolph on the fourth Sunday in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each year. Bowlers of all abilities are welcome.

The tournament has raised $5,150 since its inception.