Aspirus Health Foundation

Stories - Your Gifts in Action

Creating Brighter Futures

Together, we have accomplished a great deal to improve the health and well being of the people in our region. Your gifts of time and resources represent meals for the elderly, safety equipment for children, prenatal care for mothers and their unborn babies, smoking cessation classes for teenagers, suicide prevention programs for young adults, and scholarships for health care students to meet the present and future health needs of our community.

We hope the following stories will inspire you to continue your strong support of the Aspirus Health Foundation.

Safe Kids – Improving the safety
of our children

When Michelle Armstrong drives her vehicle to the many child passenger seat safety events she organizes, she gets all sorts of attention. That’s because her vehicle is a Chevrolet conversion van with $2,500 in colorful, custom decals identifying it as a mobile extension of the Safe Kids Wausau Area.

The eye catching van is chock full of car seats, tents and signs that help Michelle and her staff improve child passenger safety throughout the region. Last year, the local Safe Kids coalition organized nearly 30 events, where certified technicians properly installed more than 600 child passenger seats. The guidance of certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians is important, because 60 percent of the seats they saw in 2005 had been improperly installed by the consumer.

Safe Kids’ reach has been greatly improved by the van, which was paid for with a grant from General Motors and Chevrolet. Michelle spearheaded the pursuit of this competitive grant, which was one of just 28 sought by more than 300 coalitions across the nation. The value of the van, custom graphics and promotional equipment was nearly $50,000.

“The biggest thing we’ve noticed is that we can reach smaller communities and more organizations more easily with the van,” she said. “We haven’t had to turn down as many events, which means we’re reaching more people and making more kids safe.”

And because Michelle hasn’t had to spend money from her own budget on promotions, equipment, tents and signs, she’s been able to buy more child passenger seats at special rates, which she sells at cost to consumers.

Michelle’s coalition holds two regularly scheduled child passenger seat safety events every month, plus special events. The regular events are:

  • 4 – 6 pm, the first Wednesday of the month
    at Aspirus Women's Health Birthing Center.
  • 11 am – 1 pm; 4 – 6 pm, the third Wednesday of the month
    at Saturn of Wausau.

Safe Kids Wausau Area is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury, the leading killer of children age 14 and under. In addition to its work with child passenger seats, Safe Kids Wausau Area leads initiatives to improve home, bicycle and water safety for children throughout the region. If you would like to support the coalition’s work, please contact the Aspirus Health Foundation.
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Allied health scholarships help hardworking students

In German, the word Kaempfer means “fighter.” This is particularly appropriate in the case of Miranda Kaempfer, whose fighting spirit moved her to enlist in the National Guard after high school, seeing her through a one-year tour of service delivering heavy equipment to the most dangerous parts of Iraq. It also kept her focused on her dream of becoming a doctor.

“When you’re over there, it’s hot, and you miss home, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she said. “The only thing that bothered me was that my schooling would be delayed.”

Now she is back from the Middle East and, thanks in part to a scholarship from the Aspirus Health Foundation, once again studying to realize her professional goal. Miranda is enrolled in four classes at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, and is able to devote all of her attention to her studies.

She is a hard worker, and has dedicated herself to achieving her professional goals. Before deployment, Miranda was enrolled at UW-Rock County, and while abroad she took three independent-study classes through UW-Extension.

But now at 22, she is still a freshman/sophomore standing, and needs to apply herself to catch up to her peers. Last semester, she worked 40 hours a week while taking a full load of courses. It was nearly too much for her.

“Without the scholarship, it really would have been difficult,” she said. “Classes aren’t cheap, and it’s not easy – I really have to work for my grades. It’s so amazing that people would do this for me. It helps tremendously.”

Through the allied health scholarships, the Aspirus Health Foundation has helped dozens of dedicated students like Miranda pursue their dreams.
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Lighting up children’s faces –
Kohl’s Cares for Kids®

There is nothing quite like giving a gift to a child and seeing unabashed surprise and excitement. That is, unless buying the gift actually benefits other children, too.

That is the idea behind an innovative community partnership between Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Kohl’s retail stores. It allows people who shop at the Kohl’s stores in Rib Mountain and Plover to buy special gifts for the children in their lives, while supporting a program that has the potential to make life safer for thousands of children in the area.

Four times a year Kohl’s offers special items at $5 each, with 100 percent of the net profits directed to designated hospital partners to support children's health and safety initiatives.  In two years, more than $74,000 was raised!

In 2006-2007 a Safety Certification Training Program provided safety training and certification for Aspirus staff and affiliates, community members and Kohl’s Associates. By expanding the number of local certified safety specialists, the program increased the number of community education offerings including:

  • Infant car beds
  • Car seat safety
  • Booster seat education
  • Seat belt use

In 2007-2008, a media awareness campaign focuses on childhood injury prevention in four areas:  1) safe sleep for babies; 2) Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention, 3) bike helmet use, and 4) child passenger seat safety.   This campaign will increase the awareness of these child safety topics via radio spots, printed materials, on-air interviews, newsletters, health events and website information.

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Early detection lights the way
to breast cancer survival

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is over 95 percent, when it is detected early. That’s why the Aspirus Health Foundation joined forces with the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center, Aspirus Breast Health Center, Wausau Daily Herald and Newsline 9 to launch the Be A Friend 4 Life program, which has created a network of thousands of women seeking to improve early detection and increased survival of breast cancer.

“One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Theresa Traum, Executive Director of the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. “This program empowers women to help each other by sending note cards reminding them to get their annual mammogram.”

The Be A Friend 4 Life program provides women with informational kits containing educational materials, five note cards for sending messages of support to important women in their life, and a bracelet signifying their role as an ambassador for breast cancer survival. In the first five months of the program, these kits created a network of more than 2,200 women. For your kit, please contact the Aspirus Information Center at 715.847.2380 or 800.847.4707, or visit
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Finding treasure at Rainbow’s End

Renee Brodhagen has been involved in Rainbow’s End Day Camp for Special Needs Kids for eight years, and the experience has been a treasure. Brodhagen helps plenty of people in her work at Aspirus Outpatient Therapies, but her contact with campers and counselors at Rainbow’s End hooked her, and she assumed the role of camp director six years ago.

“It’s a great camp - the kids are wonderful and it’s such a good community service,” she said. “The kids love it, and I have quite a few counselors that return year after year. They really bond with the campers.”

Rainbow’s End offers a full week of fun and activity for 25 special needs campers age 5 to 21, and runs for two weeks each summer. Each camper is paired with a counselor, who becomes a “buddy” for a week of swimming, field trips and crafts.

Rainbow’s End Day Camp for Special Needs Kids exists solely through donations. By supporting it, the Aspirus Health Foundation helps provide children with safe activities that are fun, encourage creativity, and enhance self-confidence. If you would like to help Renee Brodhagen and her team continue this good work, please contact the Foundation.
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Collaboration powers
Healthy Marathon County project

You can’t solve problems you haven’t identified and don’t understand. With that idea in mind, concerned organizations came together in 2004 to underwrite and organize the Healthy Marathon County community health assessment to identify key health priorities and formulate strategies to solve them.

That collaboration continued this year, when the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin joined the Aspirus Health Foundation to direct $18,000 to the taskforces and groups working hard to address the six key health priorities identified by the assessment. These priorities are: obesity, suicide, health care for the elderly, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and access to prenatal care.

The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin has been a valuable partner in the Healthy Marathon County project. Executive Director Jean Tehan explained why. "Supporting excellent work in critical areas of community health is important to all of us,” she said. “Our partnership with the Aspirus Health Foundation and their expertise helps to assure that valuable community resources are able to have an even greater impact."

With continued collaboration, Marathon County’s future looks bright. “It takes an entire community to address the health care needs of today,” said Peggy Carrier-Diemer, Executive Director of the Aspirus Health Foundation. “If we work together, that can be accomplished.”
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