WRHS Foundation Raises $147,440 on Giving Hearts Day for TOP DOCS!

Ted Uecker
WRHS Foundation

What started out as a dream last June, has become reality. West River Health Services Foundation became a member of the Impact Foundation a summer ago. This action allowed them to be part of the largest single online fundraising day in the state of North Dakota, “Giving Hearts Day.” In 2018, Giving Hearts Day (GHD) raised $13.2 million for over 400 nonprofits across the state! This past February 14th, 2019, Giving Hearts Day Raised over $16 million! 

In West River Health Services Foundation’s first-ever Giving Hearts Day, we raised $147,440! The #1 top priority was determined to be Recruitment of more TOP DOCS. Therefore a new Physician Recruitment Endowment Fund was established at the Foundation. The minimum matching funds requirement for GHD is $4,000, so the WRHS Foundation began meeting with local business partners about a possible match. Longtime supporters Slope Electric Cooperative Inc. and Dakota Western Bank stepped up with $5,000 matching fund gifts each — if the WRHS Physician Staff matched them. Shortly thereafter eight WRHS Physicians, including Drs. Ranum, Dr. Ackerman, Dr. Kristy, Dr. Joyce, Dr. Ketterling, Dr. Houle and Dr. Aaland came forth with $13,500! Then the Hettinger Community Clothes Closet joined the Matching Fund brigade with a $2,500 gift, rounding out the matching funds at $26,000! Now the challenge of raising another $26,000 — to get to a total of $52,000 loomed large. The challenge had been set.  

Numerous Community Giving Hearts Day Volunteer Meetings we’re held on a monthly basis from August through February. There were two main thoughts: 1) create awareness of what GHD was, and 2) getting people motivated to support our New Physician Recruitment Endowment Fund.  

An aggressive marketing campaign included an initial public relations campaign in the local press to educate Western Dakota on “What is Giving Hearts Day?” was rolled out first. Then an advertising effort of community posters, an outdoor billboard, local newspaper and radio advertising, plus spectacular and charming Facebook videos (created, produced and edited by Andy Roehl) hit the streets and airwaves. 

Probably the most engaging marketing strategy for GHD was to create FUN community engagement at public events, where larger numbers of people could learn about GHD. Therefore, “Giving Hearts Nights With The NightHawks” were scheduled for Jan 24th in Hettinger and Feb 8th in Scranton. Held during local girls and boys basketball games, the West River GHD Team greeted every fan who walked through the doors of the gymnasiums. They were entered into drawings for amazing prizes and gift cards from local retailers and received coupons for dollars and percentages off the same retailers products or services — if they entered their stores. The local businesses who joined West River were Prairie Rose Floral, T & B Brickfire, Kennedy’s Fresh Foods, Peacock Mercantile, Reflections Studio, Next Door Pizza, and the Pastime Steakhouse. If local fans gave a $10 or gift to the WRHS Foundation, they received 5 more tickets for the Drawings.  

All of the Varsity girls and boys players entered the court with red GHD shirts and red and white basketballs for their pre-game warmups.  At halftimes, the 2nd/3rd/4th grade girls ran onto the court giving high 5’s to the senior high girls players while sporting  their new GHD red and white shirts (designed and created by Dan Boxrud at the local Graphic Attic, sponsored by local AFLAC and Farmers Union Insurance) and dribbling their colorful red and white basketballs. They entertained the crowds with terrific ballhandling displays and hustle at both venues. And maybe more importantly, the smiles on their faces still remain from those nights — having their names announced to the crowds, seeing their parents and grandparents at the games, and exiting the gym under a tunnel of their heroes. 

In addition, at halftime of the Boys Varsity game in Scranton on Feb 8th, the first-ever Scranton Equity  “Coaches Freethrow Shootout” was held. The three girls basketball coaches (Fordahl, Kelner and Pierce) each shot 10 freethrows for pledges. If they had made all thirty, it would have raised over $10,000 in ten minutes. The coaches were able to sink 6,6 and 5 — helping West River raise $5,700 from the Shootout alone! 

When all was said and done, nearly $16,000 was raised   In two nights for the WRHS Foundation’s New Physician Recruitment Endowment Fund — from over 150 gifts from area families! 

And the local events were not finished. Kennedy’s Fresh Foods sponsored a GHD event on Feb 12th, where everyone who entered their store received a FREE hotdog, chips, heart-shaped cookie and water. Plus, if they visited with a GHD Representative, they were entered into a Drawing for two, $300 Kennedy’s Gift Cards. Once again, if they gave a $10 or more gift to the WRHS Foundation, they received 5 more tickets for the Drawings. Plus they received coupons from our same GHD business partners as well. At the end of this day, Shiloh Dupper and Duane Freed found themselves ahead with $300 Gift Cards and the WRHS Foundation had $3,380 more for Physician Recruitment Endowment.  

Of course the big day was February 14th — this year GHD happened to fall on Valentines Day, but it is always the 2nd Thursday of February. Kim Schalesky, Executive Administrative Assistant and GHD specialist, began entering the post dated checks early morning. Online gifts began coming in the same day starting at midnight and remained steady throughout the 24 hour giving period. People were going online to www.givingheartsday.org and giving by credit card or bringing checks to WRHS headquarters throughout the busy day. At the same time, Dr. Kludt, Patty Ness, Barb West and Matt Shahan were busy burning up the phone lines with thank you phone calls to over 300 donors! The final tally was $147,440 for West River Health Services Foundation on Giving Hearts Day, 2019!  

The next day we were notified by Impact Foundation leader Scott Holdman that West River Health Services Foundation had finished in the Top 10! This means that potentially our WRHS Foundation could receive more award gifts in a few weeks.  

THANK YOU to all of our believers in bringing more TOP DOCS to our backyard. We are grateful for your dedication and sacrifice. We know you have options to support a wide variety of nonprofits. TOGETHER we will continue to improve our top-notch healthcare system, “close to home.” Onward!