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Published on April 27, 2017

Jeff Glasbrenner offers keynote address at successful first-ever Hospital Foundation Legacy event

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Jeff Glasbrenner

Thursday, April 20 marked the first annual Legacy Event for the Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics Foundation, and the event was a raving success!

It was to a packed room of various stakeholders at the Castle Rock Inn in Muscoda that Keynote Speaker Jeff Glasbrenner, a Boscobel native, shared his inspiring story. Glasbrenner turned a traumatic farming accident, which left him a below-the-knee amputee at age 8, into an opportunity to persevere and live a life filled with adventure—including becoming a World Champion Wheelchair Basketball player, an Ironman Triathlete, a Boston Marathon finisher and, most recently, summiting Mt. Everest. Glasbrenner's initial medical care was provided at the now Gundersen Boscobel Hospital.

Glasbrenner began with a short video highlighting some of his extreme sporting accomplishments, followed by an inspirational talk. He explained that his 47-day hospital stay in 1980 left him with a choice—to be positive or negative. Family and friends helped point him in the right direction: "You can either be pitiful or powerful…but you can't be both," his late father imparted.

But, it wasn't until years later, while studying at UW-Whitewater, that he realized his injury did not have to cost him his love of sport. Starting with recreational wheelchair basketball, Glasbrenner rose to become a member of the National Team, eventually participating in the Paralympics, an event showcasing athletes with physical disabilities and the world's second largest sporting event, second only to the Olympics. This opportunity opened doors and unearthed Glasbrenner's many other athletic goals, helping remove the limits that had been put in place years earlier about what he "could" and "could not" do with his life.

Next for Glasbrenner was Ironman, where he competed in many races, his favorite being Ironman Wisconsin, where he was able to run past the medical facilities where he had spent nearly two months in a hospital bed years earlier.

Ultimately, Glasbrenner and his family relocated to Colorado. It was there that he dreamt of climbing Mt. Everest, a feat that would match his internal feeling that he was "on top of the world." But, in order to become realities, dreams require action. Glasbrenner cited the need for hard work, motivation and preparation—both physical and mental—to accomplish this perilous goal.

Climbing Mt. Everest is a two-month undertaking, door-to-door. It is bitterly cold and extremely dangerous. In fact, there is a one-in-twenty death ratio. For Glasbrenner, these odds were obviously exacerbated, but he lived to tell, sharing a detailed account of his trek to Mt. Everest's peak, as well as the equally dangerous descent, reminding that reaching the peak is only "halftime." He polled the audience, "What view in life are you looking for?" He followed, "Don't make it to the peak and miss the point."

Glasbrenner's goal is to BE inspiring, and that he was. Each person in attendance walked away with a renewed sense of enthusiasm to live life to its fullest, to do as Glasbrenner recommended, "Achieve one goal, set another." For Glasbrenner, this means attempting to undertake the "Seven Summits," which equates to climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and skiing both the North and South Poles. "Things like this can be accomplished," he explained, "when you recognize your ability, rather than focusing on your disability."

Glasbrenner concluded his remarks by sharing his appreciation to Gundersen Boscobel for the care he received at the then-Boscobel Hospital at the time he needed it most, attributing his even living to tell his amazing stories to the critical care he received in those initial moments of his injury. "I am proud to be part of this legacy."

Prior to Glasbrenner's inspiring story, the Legacy event offered an overview of the work being done at Gundersen Boscobel and an overview of the help needed to secure the future of local healthcare.

BAHC Foundation Board President Jerry Berge offered a welcome and made some important introductions. First, he thanked Event Sponsor ECI Healthcare, a Schumacher Clinical Partner, represented by Craig Rosenberg, MD and Christine Langemo, MD, for underwriting the meal cost so all ticket proceeds could go to the Foundation.

ECI Drs. Langemo, Mariskanish and Mei, as well as Gundersen-employed Dr. Wilhelm were also introduced. ECI subcontracts the E.R. physicians that currently staff Gundersen Boscobel Hospital. It was noted that the final ECI hospitalist, Dr. Salazar-Tier was back at the hospital on-call, so could not be in attendance.

Following a dinner buffet featuring Castle Rock's famous prime rib, GBAHC CEO David Hartberg spoke. Hartberg shared important 2016 hospital updates, highlighting the marked progress that has been made in the last several years in positive financial growth, employee engagement and community involvement, and explained where Gundersen Boscobel is going in 2017 and beyond in its newest Triple Aim Strategic Plan, currently being formulated with the Board, Administration and Medical Staff.

Next was a touching patient story, featuring Theresa Braudt, GBAHC Patient Care Administrator and Michelle Farrell, Owner of Boscobel Pharmacy, both of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2014. Taking turns, Braudt and Farrell shared details of their journey, from initial diagnoses, through treatment and recovery, to today, focusing in particular on how they were able to lean on each other and trust the care they received at Gundersen Boscobel.

GBAHC Foundation Director Eric Swan was next to speak. Swan, who had been tasked with planning this inaugural event, began by sharing a video of an additional patient story, that of another breast cancer survivor, Boscobel resident Sue Updike, who was able to transfer her chemotherapy services to Gundersen Boscobel, allowing her to receive quality treatment without the added stress of travel time. Sue emphasized her appreciation for the ability to receive local healthcare from providers whom she has learned to trust as much as those with whom she began her cancer journey.

After this story, Swan took time to explain why the event garnered the name, "Legacy." "A legacy is the passing of something of value to someone that comes after you," he expounded, citing the need for Gunderson Boscobel to fortify its organizational legacy with the establishment of an endowment. Swan shared Foundation highlights from 2016 that included the dedication of the Marilyn Krogen Visitors Lounge, a successful Annual Appeal Campaign that was able to reach the $20,000 match opportunity provided by Patrick and Jane Thiele, who were recognized at the event, an Employee "I Give" Campaign that realized triple the participation from the previous year and other key projects that were funded were noted.

Swan also shared plans for 2017, including purchases that will be made using both the Foundation's general funds as well as "I Give" funds and he concluded by sharing his thoughts on where the Foundation is headed with long-term objectives.

Following the keynote, Swan retook the podium to say a final thanks to all in attendance for a great event, noting that Glasbrenner generously waived his normal speaking fee and travel was financed by Lincoln Financial, again ensuring that all ticket proceeds would go directly to BAHC Foundation.

Much thanks to all who both attended or supported the Legacy event in any way. We cannot be more proud of how the night turned out.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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