Joy Richards has helped out with Kootenai Health Foundation’s signature fundraising event, the Festival of Trees, every year since its inception in 1989.
But this year, the event took on added significance after her brother-in-law, Tom Richards, had open heart surgery a few months ago. This year’s event will raise money to add cardiac care services at Kootenai Medical Center.
“The reason this is important to me is my brother-in-law is benefiting from the defibrillator,” said Joy Richards, who is overseeing decorations on two festival trees this year. Richards said she originally got involved “because it’s a community hospital and there were things we needed.”
The foundation hosts the festival every Thanksgiving weekend and, in its 22-year history, it has raised more than $4 million for a variety of Kootenai Health services. In 2010, it raised more than $310,000 for emergency services at Kootenai Medical Center.
Proceeds this year will help add cardiac services at KMC, including treatment for patients who experience arrhythmias, diagnostic services to determine the cause of such disturbances along with insertion and maintenance of treatment devices such as defibrillators and pacemakers. About 400 people in North Idaho currently leave the state to receive such care, a news release from Kootenai Health said.
“The festival is a great reflection of the fact that people have a sense of ownership in their hospital,” said Teri Farr, the foundation’s president. “Kootenai is still a community-owned hospital. And people get involved because they really do want to have excellent health care close to home.”
The trees are created by businesses and individuals who work together to lavishly decorate and donate their creations. This year’s festival includes trees with cowboy, hockey and golf themes. In addition, regional artists gathered together to create original artwork on ornaments for one tree, labeled “Through an Artist’s Eye.”
Other projects supported by the festival over the years include: the heart, cancer and birthing centers; the patient transportation program; and the McGrane Center for Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Care.
This year’s festival will be held today through Monday at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. It runs from 5 to 8 tonight with a public viewing, admission $2. Other events include the sold-out senior social and festival gala on Saturday and two fashion shows on Monday. The doors open again to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday for Family Day, which includes a children’s craft workshop.