Would you believe it if I told you that with this issue of inside valley, we begin year five of my chatty epistolary?
Yes, indeed, a nickel of time has elapsed. You all deserve gold medals for putting up with me and my stories about my son and any other ethereal thought that captured my whimsy on the day I typed. It is hard for me to fathom that George was five years old when we started this. Now, at 10 years of age, he’s the ultimate tween: his interests are Legos and electric guitar. He is turning into a little rocker, and Jimi Hendrix plays these days on an infinite loop in our house.
Since you last heard from me, our corner of the world hosted the Super Bowl and we have had one of the longest deep freezes in memory. The warmest day this winter was probably the day of the big game, which is another example proving Mother Nature loves the National Football League.
All kidding aside, we ended the year on an upswing, and I have to applaud my colleagues in the Foundation. As you might imagine, we set our internal goals at the start of 2013, and as we entered the fourth quarter of 2013, we were way behind like many of the US speed skaters in Sochi this past week. The chasm we faced was challenging, to say the least. My colleagues kept their focus on finishing strong, and we achieved our goals much like the Chinese speed skater who won after the three skaters crashed in front of her!
In 2013, we received more than 5,500 gifts from our community. I thank you all for your generous support. There were so many wonderfully meaningful gifts that we received throughout the year, and there is one that I would like to take a moment to bring to your attention. In November, we accepted a transformative gift of $5 million to help us create the Michael R. Luckow Heart Center, which will be located in Valley’s new physician office building at 1200 E. Ridgewood Avenue. In this new center, which is slated to open in 2015, Valley will bring together cardiologists, state-of-the-art cardiac imaging, and screening services. It will co-locate many of Valley’s best and brightest to prevent heart disease.
Michael R. Luckow was the godson and nephew of Robert and Audrey Luckow, the cousin of Stefanie Luckow, and the son of Michael and Janet Luckow and was tragically lost to heart disease at the age of 44. The Michael R. Luckow Heart Center will be a loving and fitting tribute, and it will be a powerful affirmation of his life for the three boys and wife who survive him. While I’ve talked a lot about George’s adventures here in this space, I don’t think that I’ve told you that I too was once a young man who survived a loving dad taken too early from heart disease. The Luckow Family Foundation’s gift in memory of Michael is just perfect, and I cannot thank them enough for their exemplary philanthropic leadership.
You are all leaders and visionaries. Again, I thank you for your commitment to Valley in 2013. Yet, somehow, as I type, it’s mid-February 2014. We’re experiencing the next in a line of countless, silly-named, disruptive storms. When did every storm start getting named? Is this really necessary? Sochi needs this cold and snow more than we do. We’ve had our share…
So, what about 2014? During the fall, the Foundation Board of Trustees tasked Foundation staff to put together a 2014 case for support, and we set to doing so. The case was approved in December, and we have begun our ascent.
Soon, you will start to hear about a team of cardiac research scientists whom we would like to recruit to Valley. If you haven’t heard enough about research, you will hear more as we look to further develop our biorepository that currently stores more than 20,000 highly valuable and important tissues and blood samples. There are new needs for Valley’s Arrhythmia Institute, which houses some the best electrophsyiologists in the world. As you may know, electrophysiology is the highly specific cardiologic specialty that deals with the electronic impulses of the heart. You will hear about a high-tech Simulation Lab that will train nurses and physicians on mannequins that actually talk, breathe, bleed, seize and even cry; the mommy mannequin even gives birth. These dolls respond to the countless procedures that are given to them by the training teams. I just saw a news story about US Air Force teams and first responders learning critical care and transport medicine in a simulation lab, and we will have one here at Valley. We will also look to help the hospital purchase the latest in magnetic resonance imaging technology; Valley is looking to buy a 3.0 T MRI machine that will be a critical piece of equipment for the Neuroscience Institute that we are creating. And, finally, we will also raise money for Valley Home Care’s Rehab Services. Valley Home Care is bringing important rehab to the home with fall prevention training; Functional Freedom (a living well program for Parkinsons and other movement diseases); and Steps Ahead (home rehab for total joint replacement).
As you can see, there is much to do for so many needs. Valley is a not-for-profit hospital, and it is the hospital that it is today because of the generous support all of you provide it. We are able to keep abreast of the latest technology and programs because of your commitment to philanthropy. I look forward to our climb up the 2014 mountain, but before we do, I say thank you one last time for making 2013 such a success.