Above and Beyond Gifts
The people in our region are incredibly caring and giving. The proof can be found in the stories below.
philanthropists, who’ve greatly helped Benefis Health System Foundation
further its mission of improving an enhancing healthcare services for
people in Northcentral Montana, are an inspiration to all! Read on to
see the wondrous things they've done.
Barber Ellis and his wife, Gaee, in 1992 gave a significant gift of
ranch property to Montana Deaconess Foundation to benefit children’s
healthcare. The legacy of the late Bill and Gaee Ellis continues to
flourish with programs that have been funded by this endowment. This
includes the Safety First Rally, which educates children about ways to
prevent injury caused by many common activities, such as bike riding and
skateboarding, and the Think First Program to raise awareness about
avoiding head and spinal cord injuries caused by risky behavior.
and Helen Fretz left an enormous legacy in so many ways. Part of their
legacy was through a gift given in 1998 of more than $2 million to
Benefis Health System Foundation to improve the lives of those facing
Ray and Helen did not have children of their own, so the
estate they amassed over their lifetime benefited the Foundation and
other local charities. Because of their generous gift to support Benefis
Sletten Cancer Institute, the beautiful garden area in the cancer
center proudly bears their names - the Ray and Helen Fretz Healing
anonymous gift totaling $7.1 million was given to Benefis Health
System Foundation to build an inpatient hospice facility that includes
an administrative office building and also create a permanent endowment
to ensure the program continues.
Peace Hospice of Montana
Residential Hospice Facility provides inpatient care in a home-like
environment for patients experiencing a terminal illness and in need of
24-hour care. This amazing facility, which has 12 large private
rooms, would not be a part of our community if not for the generosity of
these anonymous donors.
Health System Foundation, in appreciation of contributions from
Carter & Judy Williams and Keith & Olive Ario, in 1998 named
Benefis Health System’s emergency department the Williams-Ario Regional
Emergency and Trauma Center.
Distinguished for their lifetime of
giving to the community, each family donated more than $650,000 to
the Foundation towards the construction of the emergency and trauma
center. These exceptional gifts represent the well-known care and
concern these families hold for the people of Northcentral Montana.
legacy of Keith and Olive Ario will live on forever thanks to gifts
through Keith’s estate plan that provided more than $6 million to local
nonprofit organizations. Of this amount, $3.7 million was directed to
Benefis Health System Foundation to create a permanent endowment, with
the annual income to be used at the discretion of the Foundation Board
of Directors to further the Foundation’s mission.
Some of the
endowment earnings were used to assist Benefis Health System in the
recent purchase of the da Vinci Surgical System, which allows surgeons
to perform gynecological, prostate and other surgeries with smaller
incisions and less trauma to the patient's body, allowing for a quicker
recovery period. Keith, who died in 2004 at age 95, was married to Olive
for 57 years. She died in 1991.
and Art lived modestly but cared deeply about others. Alvina in 2003
left a significant estate gift of $350,000 to Benefis Health System
Foundation to benefit Gift of Life Housing Centers.
Gift of Life
Housing provides a home away from home for those who live outside of
Great Falls and but are receiving treatment at Benefis. Primarily used
for cancer patients undergoing treatment at Benefis Sletten Cancer
Institute, Gift of Life Housing also provides housing for NICU, Wound
Therapy and Rehab patients and families.
When Kathy Rice was asked in 2004 to chair the Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute capital campaign,
she knew it would require many hours of her personal time. Even so, she
did not hesitate and took on the challenge with great passion, in part,
because her family had personally experienced the devastation of
cancer. She understood the difficulty of navigating through a cancer
diagnosis, and she wanted to be a part of the dream to build a
comprehensive cancer center.
Not only did Kathy put in countless
hours of her time towards the project, but she also personally donated
$250,000 to the project. Kathy is a founding member of the Benefis
Health System Foundation Board of Directors. Her tireless efforts have
made a tremendous impact on healthcare in our region.
Companies and their employees, shareholders and officers in 2004
donated $1.3 million dollars toward a new comprehensive cancer center.
As a result of such a major contribution, the cancer center was named
Sletten Cancer Institute.
Erik Sletten, President of Sletten
Companies, said they believed in Benefis Health System
Foundation's vision and the great service this cancer center would add
to the community of Great Falls and the people of Montana. Thanks to
their lead gift, the Foundation was able to successfully conduct a
capital campaign that contributed $8.8 million to Benefis Health
System to help with the construction of the new cancer center.
2006, Duane and Lois Dockter gave a very generous gift of property to
Benefis Health System Foundation in the form of a Charitable Remainder
Both Duane and Lois were longtime educators with the
Great Falls Public School District, and they both retired in 1993. After
many years of managing rental property, Duane and Lois decided they
wanted to enjoy more free time; they decided it was time to sell the
property. The couple approached Benefis Healthcare Foundation about what
options would offer them the best tax benefits while also benefitting
the Foundation. The unrestricted earnings at the time the trust matures
will be used where the need is the greatest, according to the Foundation
Board of Directors.
a very generous donation of $250,000 from David and Tanya Cameron in
2008, Benefis Health System's new educational facility in the South
Tower is named the Cameron Auditorium. The state-of-the-art auditorium
is one of the most innovative hospital education facilities in the
Because education has been such an important part of
their lives, David and Tanya were felt privileged to be part of such an
important project. Tanya is a member of the Benefis Health System
Foundation Board of Directors and also a passionate volunteer and
advocate for excellent healthcare in our community and region. David was
a longtime educator at the post-secondary level. Together they
operate the Dana Ranch, established by David’s father in 1946.