Gala Evening Raises Funds for Children's Hospital

Peter Hillary speaking at the Fourth Annual Dare to Dream Gala Hosted by Friends of UW HospitalMADISON - Building a world-class children's hospital and climbing to the summit of Mount Everest may not seem like they have a lot in common, but they both require teamwork, commitment, perseverance, passion and above all, a dream.


Those similarities were made evident recently when world-famous adventurer Peter Hillary spoke at the Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics fourth annual Dare to Dream Gala.


Hillary, the son of renowned mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, was the featured speaker in an evening filled with live entertainment, a silent and live auction as well as dinner, all to raise funds for the American Family Children's Hospital.


Daring to Dream


"We're here to celebrate all that American Family Children's Hospital has become, but we're going to dare to dream about all it will become," said Susan Pierce Jacobsen, president of Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics, in her introduction to the evening.


The event raised $415,000, which will outfit a sixth operating room at American Family Children's Hospital. The Children's Hospital serves patients and families from Wisconsin and the surrounding region. Over the last year alone there were more than 4,700 surgical procedures performed. The new operating room will be dedicated to specialties such as orthopedics, urology, and ENT.


The American Family Children's Hospital was the result of dedicated individuals who believed passionately in the dream of a state-of-the-art facility that could serve the needs of children and their families.


"Many of you dared to dream," said Donna Katen-Bahensky, President and CEO of UW Hospital and Clinics to the more than 800 guests gathered for the event. "I promise you, under our collective leadership, we will continue to dream - and make those dreams a reality for Wisconsin's children."


Finding New Dreams


Dr. Dennis Lund and Peter HillaryPrior to the event, Katen-Bahensky led Hillary on a tour of the Children's Hospital along with Pierce Jacobsen, Pediatric Chief of Surgery Dr. Dennis Lund and American Family Children's Hospital Vice President Jeff Poltawsky.


"The thing that struck me [when touring the Children's Hospital] was this amazing feeling amongst the people - doctors and nurses, various specialists - there's a tremendous rapport. Then, when I heard that one of the ideologies of this hospital was to involve, engage and support the parents - I thought that this place has its finger on the pulse. I have to say, this place is extraordinary," said Hillary.


As he addressed those gathered for the Gala, Hillary shared anecdotes and stories from his own adventures.


Hillary first discovered mountaineering when he was seven years old in the Himalayas with his father and Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who accompanied his father during the famous trip to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. It was Sir Edmund Hillary's dream that eventually opened the way for other climbers to reach the summit. Peter went on to climb Mount Everest as well, reaching the summit twice, most recently in 2002.


"When you're standing on the top of Mount Everest, the first thing you notice is that it's a superb view," Hillary joked. "It's a little bit like looking out of an airliner, except you have your boots on the ground."


But, Hillary pointed out, once you've reached that dream of climbing to the top, you still have to make the return trip.


"It's a strange business when you get back down to the bottom of the mountain," he explained. "There's a strange mixture of emotion. Your challenge is complete and there's really only one solution, and that is new challenges. If there's one thing I've learned out of my over 40 expeditions to mountains around the world, it's to never sit back on your laurels, your past successes."


Dreaming of the Future


For American Family Children's Hospital, the dream continues every day.


"Our next dream is to further develop American Family Children's Hospital to meet the needs of the children and families that we serve," said Poltawsky. "We also are seeking partnerships with schools and communities to improve the health status of Wisconsin's children through fitness and health promotion, injury prevention, literacy and reading, child abuse prevention and oral health."


According to Poltawsky, among the next goals for the Children's Hospital  are:

  • Developing space to accommodate more inpatient beds, especially intensive-care beds
  • A comprehensive children's heart program including a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab
  • A dedicated radiology suite just for children 

As Hillary reminded the audience: "We all have mountains to climb, but as we've seen, some of the young people who've come through the doors of the hospital every day have an even greater mountain to climb."


Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics is a volunteer non-profit organization whose focus is to fund programs within UW Hospital and Clinics and American Family Children's Hospital for patients and their families. Since 2004, the Friends group has raised $1.8 million for the children's hospital.


A Slideshow From the Evening




Photos courtesy of John Maniaci and Joe Koshollek/UW Hospital and Clinics

Date Published: 02/12/2010

News tag(s):  childrenourkidsouruwhealth

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