When a seemingly healthy, vibrant employee is suddenly struck by critical illness, for a tight knit local business group it can be the spark to initiate a fundraising campaign to give back to the community in a meaningful way.
Such was the case for Kelowna’s Johnston Auto Group BMW. General Manager, Gord Hayes, recently presented the KGH Foundation with a gift of $15,000. The donation was inspired by one of their own, and will go toward the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment and patient care items for the cardiac program at Kelowna General Hospital.
When 55-year old Ron Russell awoke on the morning of January 17, 2016, he felt off, but decided to go about his day any way. The full-time Service Manager of Vernon Dodge Jeep, part of the Johnston Auto Group, had no reason to believe that he was having a heart attack. After all, he was an active curler and maintained a healthy lifestyle.
But that evening, he knew something was wrong. “When I began sweating profusely for the second time that day, I jumped in my truck and headed to the hospital,” says Ron. “I really didn’t believe I was ill at all. I will admit though, that for maybe 3 – 4 months I had been feeling a bit of pressure in my chest.”
Indeed, Ron was sick. After checking himself into Vernon Jubilee Hospital, he was transferred to KGH to await open heart surgery. One of his arteries was 90% blocked and another was 65% blocked. Ron was scheduled for a double by-pass, a surgical procedure to circumnavigate the diseased sections of Ron’s coronary arteries with healthy artery or vein grafts and re-establish a healthy flow of blood to his heart muscle tissue.
“Ron is such a great guy and has been a manager with our group since 1992. We were so happy to have him back to his active, healthy self, thanks to the extraordinary care he received at KGH,” says Hayes. “We felt very motivated support him by making a donation to cardiac care.”
Throughout the month of April, a portion of the funds from the sale of each new or used vehicle purchased at the dealership was committed to KGH.
“Kelowna BMW is a generous supporter and fantastic corporate partner,” says Siobhan McManus, Senior Development Officer at the KGH Foundation. “Together, they have helped make world-class, state of the art cardiac care possible locally at KGH, and save lives.”
The cardiac program at KGH has grown tremendously since 2009 when the first percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or angioplasty, was successfully completed. Since then thousands of stent placements have been performed, over 1,900 in 2015 alone, dramatically improving the quality of life for cardiac patients. In 2012, KGH launched the cardiac surgery program and now performs hundreds of procedures annually, including open-heart coronary artery bypass grafts and heart valve replacements.
The new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre opened its doors in 2015, and with it, a significant step forward in advancing cardiac care at KGH.
Donors continue to play a critical role in financing the equipment and patient care needs of the IHSC beyond what the province can supply.
“It’s a place you hope you never end up in, but sometimes you do. Very unexpectedly,” reflects Ron. “The cardiac care at KGH is outstanding. I am incredibly grateful.”
Kelowna Hyundai and Buy Direct Truck Centre have been a part of the COBSS (Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society) for many years with the proud tradition of giving out the Kelowna Hyundai Scholarship.
The Kelowna Hyundai Scholarship is a $1000 scholarship awarded to motivated students of 5 schools in the Okanagan. These students are awarded the scholarship based on their drive and dedication to their academics with the goal to pursue post-secondary school.
Everyone at Kelowna Hyundai and the Truck Centre would like to say congratulations to the lucky winners of the 2016 Kelowna Hyundai Scholarship:
Chris Matte – Immaculata Regional High School (no photo)
Holly de Haas – Okanagan Mission Secondary (no photo)
Lisa Tran – Mount Boucherie Secondary
Nathan Ziebart – Kelowna Secondary School
Tejinder Kohar (Tania) – Rutland Secondary School
“It is really important to us to acknowledge the hard work these students put in and support their goals for post-secondary education. We wish you all the best of luck in your career goals”, said John Kot, President of Kelowna Hyundai.
Andrew Kates is our latest Volinspire volunteer of the week.
What first inspired you to volunteer?
Volunteering has always been an interest of mine. Anthony J. D'Angelo once said, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community." I can identify with this way of thinking, as I believe that we, as individuals in a community, have a responsibility to care for it, and therefore maintain it. Initially, I was inspired to volunteer at the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, as I was interested in a program which allowed me to directly give back to the community, or more importantly, to those in need. The ability to experience direct contact with those who I had helped felt truly gratifying, and personally seeing the necessity of volunteering and helping others reinforced my belief in stepping forward for one's community. Seeing the impact of the organization and its volunteers inspired me to seek out new and more volunteering positions, as I hoped to be part of an impact on the community in other capacities as well.
Which cause are you most passionate about and why?
It is hard to pick a single cause that I am most passionate about, because I consider all of them important. However, I particularly believe in helping to curtail poverty. Serving in the Food Bank has demonstrated to me the importance of helping those who are financially less fortunate. Their serious dependence on the meals that are offered to them, and their positivity and gratefulness, illustrated for me a clear picture of why poverty is an issue which we need to tackle. If we don't help these people, we may never see the great value that some could bring to making our world a better place.
Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?
Presently, I spend a lot of my time volunteering for the Okanagan Taneda Karate Dojo, a martial arts school for youth and adults located across the valley.
What does a typical volunteer shift look like for this organization?
Currently, I volunteer as a senpai, or a teacher, at the local Karate dojo. During each junior class, I serve as an instructor for an hour and a half. This includes leading the junior karate members through warm-ups and basic excercises. For the rest of the class, I continue to help coach the young students and help them improve their technique, their kumite (competitve freestyle fighting), and their katas (choreographed karate). During these classes, I participate alongside the children in games, cultivating relationships with them. Finally, I help to record attendance and set up and tear down equipment once class has finished. It is very rewarding, as I am able to see the long term progress of the kids over months, getting to experience the childrens' results from my efforts in real time.
What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?
The impact made by volunteers in the community is huge. A lot of the causes I believe in - and volunteer for - would not be possible without the commitment and hard work of these volunteers. They love to work with each other, for the community, and for the benefit of others. I've seen the efforts of volunteers first hand when I was helping to organize a car smash fundraiser for Fort McMurray. They made the event entirely possible, as it was organized, marketed, and run as a result in part of these volunteers.
What is the most memorable moment or experience you've had while volunteering?
A few months ago during school, a group of students and I organized and ran a fundraiser event for the Fort McMurray wildfire. We brought in a car to the backyard area of our school during lunches, and our classmates would smash up the car to raise money. It was an awesome experience, and I'll never forget seeing my vice principle smashing the car to smithereens with a sledgehammer! Being able to support those affected by the wildfire was amazing, but seeing the school coming together at this event - being able to engage each student and have them invest in our school's spirit - was unexpected, and felt very rewarding.
What support does your organization currently need, and how can people learn more or get involved?
The Okanagan Mission Secondary school car smash helped to raise funds for the Canadian Red Cross in support of Fort McMurray. Those who've been afflicted by the fire can still need help. Donations to Red Cross for Fort McMurray can be made on their site as well as other info on how to help out for the cause. We will be holding the car smash event again next year, most likely May/June, and will be selling the chance to smash a car for charitable causes.
Is there anyone else you would like to recognize that has helped support you to make a difference?
Central Okanagan Community Food Bank has had a huge impact on the community and has given me a tremendous volunteering opportunity. Our car smash event couldn't have happened without Interior Savings, a great company that has played a huge part in helping the volunteering team from Volinspire which I am proud to be a part of.
Check out more volunteer opportunities and profiles at volinspire.com.
To help raise awareness for the year-round needs of the Central Okanagan Food Bank, four local car dealerships collected donations for the first annual “Drive Away Hunger” event.
Kelowna Ford Lincoln, Bannister GM, Anthony's Subaru and Orchard Ford came together to feed the community this June by collecting over 1,600 pounds of food for the Central Okanagan Food Bank.
More Get Involved articles
- An inspiring volunteer Jul 11
- Get Volinspired! Jul 5
- 1st annual Boucherie Grind Jun 29
- Service club adds its support Jun 29