Going for Gold

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemIn Central Illinois, where I grew up, snow and frozen lakes are the norm. Almost as soon as my brother, sister and I could walk, we were given ice skates. Family videos, now on DVD, capture us all spending weekends together, ice skating in Springfield and Paris, a city about two hours away. To this day, my favorite video is of my younger sister, Jan, who was two years old at the time. My brother and I watched as my mother guided her around the ice, clapping enthusiastically as Jan glided on her own just for a brief moment before falling down.

As my brother grew older, he continued his passion for the ice by playing ice hockey. I remember sitting in the bleachers with my family weekend after weekend, cheering Dave and his teammates on to victory. My own passion for the ice played out much more vicariously, as I hung up my skates to cheer for my brother and to watch the 1960 Olympic Games on television as Carol Heiss won the gold medal in women’s figure skating for the U.S.

My love of the ice and the Olympics has stayed with me through the years, and in 2004, I met Casey FitzRandolph, a US speed skater from Wisconsin who won Olympic gold in 2002, setting a record for the 500m race. His record still stands today. As he and I became friends, I learned the powerful and motivating story about his journey to become a gold medalist.

On Friday, May 16 at noon, we will culminate Health System Week with a special presentation by Casey in the Levin Hall Main Auditorium, where he will share his inspiring message of family support, determination and perseverance despite many of the odds that were stacked against him. His talk will also be streamed online so that those who are unable to attend in person can hear his history-making story.

As you listen to Casey, you might be surprised by how similar his story is to UTMB’s own story of transformation following Hurricane Ike. The contributions made by each UTMB employee, faculty member and nurse to our recovery from the storm and to making this organization the wonderful place it is for our patients and families are equally motivational and also tell a story of courage and determination—you all are record setting champions!

And speaking of champions, at Casey’s talk we will honor and recognize the many teams and individuals at UTMB who earned recognition this past year for UTMB—many of them are gold, silver and bronze award winners, too!

I hope you will enjoy next week’s Health System Week activities that celebrate and recognize YOU for the incredible work you do each and every day on behalf of UTMB!  Casey’s talk is open to the public, so if you have friends, neighbors and/or family who would like to hear Casey’s message, please invite them to attend. For more details on his upcoming presentation, please click here.