McKee Wellness Foundation Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Mary Gullikson, honorary chair for McKee Wellness Foundation’s Gala for Wellness.

McKee Wellness Foundation will celebrate 40 years of raising funds to support health and wellness in northern Colorado with its annual Gala for Wellness on October 1.  

The celebration was delayed for one year due to Covid, so technically the foundation is 41 years old.  Over the years, the foundation has reinvested $34 million in northern Colorado.  

This year, the group will honor Mary Gullikson for nearly four decades of involvement with the foundation. This will be her 40th gala.  

Gullikson’s interest in supporting local health care stemmed from working as a therapeutic dietitian in a  hospital. She said her first volunteer work involved driving cancer patients to Denver or Greeley for chemotherapy or radiation treatments.  

“I thought ‘I want Loveland to have access to really good health care. We should have the best health care we can at our fingertips,” she said. 

In addition, executive director Kara Pappas said the foundation will introduce a new initiative to support patients receiving mental health care. Similar to other patient support programs, the foundation aims to cover the cost of transportation to appointments, rental assistance, or co-pays so patients don’t have to sacrifice in order to receive treatment. The foundation also will provide financial support for continuing education in the behavioral health field.  

The Gala for Wellness is 5 p.m. October 1 at TPC Colorado in Berthoud. Tickets are $175 each and $350 per couple. The formal evening includes dinner, live and silent auctions and dueling grand pianos. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit galaforwellness.com.  

If you would like to visit with the gala organizers or Mrs. Gullikson, please contact Kara Pappas for more information.  

Here are notable projects accomplished by the McKee foundation through the community’s generosity:  

1984 – The Lifeline medical alert service – allows individuals to age safely and independently in their homes.  

1986 – HeartWatchers Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – created to give the northern Colorado community a low-cost, medically supervised exercise and education program for people at high risk for or who have been diagnosed with heart disease. 

1983 – Electric doors at McKee Medical Center’s front entrance – the foundation raised funds to create a  future-forward and accessible welcome for patients and guests at the hospital’s entrance.  

1985 – The first mammography unit in northern Colorado – providing a comfortable space for breast diagnostic care in the hospital.  

1987 – The McKee Conference Center – created as a gathering space for health care workers, community events, and educational presentations.  

1991 – Sunshine Cart – A local donor wanted to bring a little sunshine to patients in the hospital by delivering cookies and small gifts to their rooms during their stays. Today the program includes eight  Sunshine Carts stocked with toiletries, books, blankets, reading glasses, and other items to make patients more comfortable.  

1995 – Stepping Stones Adult Day Program – created to provide a safe and engaging day program for older adults with conditions such as dementia. It gave them socialization, stimulating activities, and basic health monitoring and gave respite to caregivers.  

1997 – Loveland Community Health Center – opened in a renovated downtown building to provide primary care, dental care, and prescription support to a medically underserved population. 

1998 – The McKee Wellness Walk – a path around the hospital where team members, patients, guests, and community members can enjoy a peaceful stroll. The foundation continues to support the maintenance and landscaping plus memorial tributes along the path. 

2001 – Angel for Lost Children is a permanent statue on the McKee campus created as a tribute for parents to honor children who have died. For several years, the community would gather at the statue for a candle-lighting vigil.  

2005 – The McKee Cancer Center opened as a state-of-the-art comprehensive cancer center bringing advanced treatments and world-class providers to Loveland. The center is now home to Banner MD  Anderson Cancer Center at McKee Medical Center.  

2008 – Funds were raised for the creation of a simulation training center that uses lifelike medical mannequins for health care professionals to practice high-risk skills in a simulated clinical environment.  

2010 – McKee’s Interfaith Chapel – providing a space for prayer and reflection, accommodating people of all faiths.  

2014 – The HEARTSafe Community program – provides automated external defibrillators and training to the community to treat people who suffer sudden cardiac events in public places.  

2019 – Blue Star Fund – supporting local veterans with a hand up in their health and wellness as they move from military service to life as a civilian. The fund supports transportation to medical appointments, medical care and equipment, and holistic care.

2020 – COVID-19 Emergency Support – During a time when health care workers were needed more than ever, those with children faced the challenge of school closures and needed in-home childcare. The foundation helped with expenses to ensure staff was able to care for patients.  

2021 – Banner Fort Collins Medical Center cath lab – the foundation provided a $1 million gift to support the heart catheterization lab to expand heart care services to patients in south Fort Collins.  

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