GENEROUS DONORS Kathy and Gerry Ryan of Summerland have donated $30,000 to help acquire medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion. Gerry is the board chair of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. (Photo submitted)

Summerland couple donates $30,000 to hospital campaign

Donation will go to medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion

Kathy and Gerry Ryan of Summerland have donated $30,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation to help provide medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion.

Kathy and Gerry grew up in Ontario (Waterloo and Stratford respectively) and lived in Edmonton for several years before moving to B.C. in 1989.

After living for many years in Coquitlam, they relocated to the Okanagan in 2001 with their sons, Mark and Jeff.

Both enjoyed rewarding careers before shifting gears in 2010 and turning their interest toward the land.

They started up a new vineyard operation, growing grapes for a local winery.

They are now fully retired, travelling and enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle.

Kathy spent her career working as a speech language pathologist. Her passion was helping nonverbal children talk, using communication devices or picture communication symbols.

“These children require alternative ways to talk due to autism, or cognitive and/or physical disabilities,” she said.

She volunteered at a special week-long Cool Communicators summer camp at Camp Winfield (a B.C. Lions Society Easter Seal camp) and she coordinated a group of other speech language pathologists from school districts in the region.

“We were there to support the counsellors and ensure the nonverbal campers had the symbols and communication device setups to fully participate in the camp program and to be able to share their experiences with their family and friends after camp,” she explained.

“It was an incredibly rewarding experience to help these children spend a week away from home with peers and to build their independence skills.”

Gerry was active in both Kinsmen and Rotary in the Lower Mainland and served as president of the Evergreen Cultural Centre Society in Coquitlam.

The centre opened in 1996 and is home to a 257-seat live community theatre, a public art gallery and smaller studios.

In 2006, while living in Peachland, Gerry experienced a major health crisis which led him to get involved in supporting our local healthcare system.

“I received an exceptional level of care from my family physician and some very professional staff at Penticton Regional Hospital, so I decided to volunteer my time with the medical foundation,” he said.

He has served on the board of the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation since October 2007 and is currently its chairperson.

Gerry had a lengthy career in financial planning and investment management.

Among other responsibilities, he helped some of his clients make personal and estate gifts toward their preferred charities.

“As a board member, I have seen the huge impact that an estate gift can have for a charity in their fund-raising efforts and therefore I have made similar arrangements through my own will.”

The medical foundation has seen a steady increase in the number of donors who have left gifts of capital or properties to the Foundation through their will. Planning early for such a gift is the key to doing it effectively.

The Ryans emphasize the need for people to help make sure we have the best possible healthcare available for our families, friends and ourselves.

“That means giving of our time, but more importantly giving financially to ensure our physicians and medical staff have the very latest medical equipment to aid them in their work.”

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