WE RISE: Rooted in Hope, Growing Together
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
At Brent’s Place, family is everything. Like a mature tree provides shade on a hot day, these relationships provide us with sturdy supports of growth, comfort, and shelter during life’s storms.
Rooted in our values of compassion, integrity, respect, responsibility, and quality of life, the Brent’s Place family tree grows stronger with every passing day. We are fortunate to have a family of supporters who lift up our families as they face life-threatening illness and medical crises.
Over the course of the last four weeks, we have explored the resiliency of our community, reconnecting with the many branches of the Brent’s Place family tree. Thanks to the generosity of our growing community and our matching sponsors – an anonymous donor joined by the Ellison, Staples, and Simon families – we’ve raised $60,541 during the WE RISE campaign, more than achieving our goal of providing our families with 500 days of compassionate care. On behalf of our staff, Board, and our families, THANK YOU!
Scroll down to reconnect with the stories and supporters we've spotlighted throughout this campaign.
The WE RISE campaign is an opportunity to look back on the resiliency of our community this past year and to reconnect with you as we look ahead, together, to a brighter tomorrow.
For one adult transplant patient and her family, that tomorrow is today. After becoming gravely ill with acute onset heart failure, Beverly, 60, received a new heart this past May and has been recovering since at our Forum offsite campus.
Here, she rings the bell to announce her discharge from the hospital and the beginning of her recovery. While she does so, she says, “I ring this bell once to honor my God, twice to celebrate my strength, and three times to encourage those who follow in my steps.”
We’re here with you, Beverly, as you take your first steps toward tomorrow and every day after that.
There’s nothing quite like a hot meal to bring families together.
The Brent’s Place family has been enjoying the culinary talents of volunteer chefs Chris and Julie every month for almost eight years. Together, they’ve provided our families with nearly 100 home cooked meals!
Partners in culinary compassion since 2012, Chris and Julie love applying their creativity and skills to a worthy cause. While the Brent’s Place staff is currently delivering meals directly to families, they’re excited to reconnect with families during in-person buffet service.
“When people find out we’re cooking,” Julie says, “everyone shows up!”
What’s on the menu tonight? Goulash! This delicious dish will warm the bellies and souls of our families, relieving them of the added stress of preparing a meal after a long day.
Join us in thanking Chris and Julie and all our generous volunteers!
Like so many people who were separated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, families living at Brent’s Place in 2020 had to get creative with ways to see their loved ones. When we think of how our families rise up in the face of adversity, we’re reminded of one particularly inventive family that devised a unique way to reconnect, safely.
At the time, seven-year-old Kellen was living at Brent's Place with his dad Jason, while his mom, Kourtnie, and sister, Kenlie, were back home in Grand Junction. As a nurse, Kourtnie was all too aware of the danger a virus could cause her son's suppressed immune system, but she also missed her family. So, Kourtnie got to work thinking up a safe way for the family to reunite.
Her solution? A socially distanced meet-up featuring one balcony, two chairs, and a cellphone!
We’re continually inspired by the resiliency of our residents and their ability to rise above whatever roadblocks come their way.
The Brent’s Place family tree is always growing, and sometimes, its branches intersect to emerge stronger and rise higher. Such is the case for Caitlin McPherson, a longtime volunteer with Brent’s Place who recently joined our Family Support staff as a full-time coordinator.
Caitlin began volunteering with Brent’s Place when she was only 13, and she’s been an important member of our family ever since. Her positivity, empathy, and experience with the Brent’s Place mission make her a powerful advocate for those we serve.
“The first word that comes to mind when I think of Brent’s Place is ‘family,’ Caitlin says. “While they may share commonality, their experiences are unique. Brent’s Place recognizes this and consistently supports each individual's needs. This authenticity connects me to our mission.”
WE RISE together thanks in part to the big hearts of team members like Caitlin, who live the Brent’s Place values every day.
Check out a bit of Caitlin’s journey with us below.
Happy National Parents’ Day! On July 25, we take a moment to honor the parents of Brent’s Place. Whether they be staff, volunteers, donors, caregivers, or patients themselves, we celebrate their resiliency and steadfast strength everyday, but especially today.
While we would normally be reconnecting in person to celebrate this holiday and each of our families, this year, WE RISE together to say thank you to the incredible parents of our community, including Christie, pictured here with her daughter Tabitha, 8, after receiving a matching haircut in support of her daughter’s fight against acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
Special thanks to Meghan Monique at Fluid Hair Studio and Ellie Wagley for donating these amazing cuts.
The Brent’s Place family tree is able to lift up families in need thanks to the reliable support of our donors. Today, we want to take a moment to thank one of the generous matching donors behind the WE RISE campaign.
Caryn and Rick Ellison have been a part of our network of care since the very beginning. Their life-long friendship with our founders, Donn and Linda Eley, includes fond memories of Brent as a child. Now, more than three decades later, their support is stronger than ever. In addition to serving as a Board member, a role she has proudly held continuously since the organization’s inception, Caryn regularly steps up to serve Brent’s Place families. From committee chair to financial advisor and (pictured here) even good-natured dunk tank victim!
Looking ahead, Caryn is excited to reconnect with our families at events, especially our annual Block Party. “The atmosphere of hope and healing is most visibly experienced at that event, and it has always been most special in my heart,” she says, adding, “Plus, I can’t wait to get dunked again to raise money!”
The Brent’s Place family tree has deep roots. So deep, in fact, they reach all the way to Texas!
We’re very lucky to have another leg of the Texas 4000 for Cancer riding through town today. These intrepid and compassionate adventurers raise money for cancer research and cancer support services through their 4000-mile journey across America. Their journey takes 70 days to complete, but their impact on the fight against cancer is immeasurable.
Today, they’ll make a pit stop at Brent’s Place to learn more about our mission, meet some of our families, play fun games, and even blow some bubbles with our residents.
We’re unendingly grateful to the Texas 4000 teams for spending their rest day with us and for helping us provide families facing a life-threatening illness with a home away from home. Our partnership with donors is an essential way that WE RISE together, in support of families in need.
Birthdays are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and imagine what exciting adventures lie ahead. And for this sweet little girl, Teagan, who turns four today, birthdays are all about possibilities. Happy birthday, Teagan!
WE RISE is an opportunity to reconnect with our community, no matter where life has taken them. For Teagan, who stayed with us during a bone marrow transplant in 2019, life is looking bright. Here she is during her six-month stay with us in 2019 and again during a recent short stay in our hospitality suites. Her health is good and Teagan is excited to be starting preschool in the fall.
We’re honored to provide families with a Safe-Clean place to stay for as long as needed, but we also know that nothing beats the excitement of returning home.
For Carter, 10, and his family, the news that they were cleared to head back home after his bone marrow transplant was cause for celebration. Awarded a certificate of completion for his 228-day stay at Brent’s Place, Carter posed with his mom, Kiana, before hitting the road. Their decked out car proudly proclaims, “228 Days at Children's Hospital Colorado … We’re going HOME!”
No matter where a family is in their journey with Brent’s Place, WE RISE together in service of their safety and security. Our ability to provide a Safe-Clean home away from home is thanks to supporters like you.
Our volunteers form one of the strongest branches of support for families. And while we can’t yet welcome back the expansive volunteer community that makes it possible for us to provide compassionate and individualized care, we can shine a light on their impact.
Since he began volunteering in 2002, Frank has become an integral part of our volunteer community, taking the time to meet patients and families where they are, listen to their needs, and go out of his way to make their day a little brighter. From making Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes during breakfast service to whipping up a batch of his homemade organic jam to share with our families, Frank’s grandfatherly warmth brings a sense of comfort and home to every family lucky enough to meet him.
“It’s all about the families,” Frank says. “I’m just trying to do something for my community, to help folks who really need it.”
Together, WE RISE because of volunteers like you, Frank!
We’re a community rooted in compassion, and we stand strong to shelter families with a loved one facing a life-threatening illness.
For the Drinkall family, who stayed with us last year following their son Roy’s bone marrow transplant, Brent’s Place was a safe haven in a storm: “I remember looking forward to a cup of tea, a hot bath, and a full night of sleep,” Roy’s mom Amber says. “That helped me keep on keeping on.”
After Roy was released from the hospital, the family began to heal together. From simple things like eating and walking to playing virtual Bingo and Brent’s Place-provided craft projects, slowly but surely, Roy gained strength and a renewed zest for life.
“We were supported by an invisible community at Brent’s Place,” Amber says. “One that carried us through the darkest point of our lives.”
Since the Drinkalls headed home in February 2021, the clouds have cleared and the future is looking bright for Roy. He’s eager to return to school this fall and even embark on a whitewater rafting trip to celebrate the anniversary of his transplant. Here, Roy stands proudly with his bone marrow donor: his dad.
WE RISE in support of our families during times of uncertainty, but also in celebration of their wins, their milestones, and of course their birthdays! The birthdays of our residents, like five-year-old Lancey, are an important opportunity for our families to relax, spend time together, and celebrate life. But with compounding medical bills, the cost of a birthday celebration can create additional stress. For as little as $25, you can help a resident celebrate their birthday and create important family memories, turning a time of crisis into a moment of celebration.
For matching donors Rae Sandler Simon (“Dr. Rae” as she’s referred to by Brent’s Place staff and families) and her husband Josh Simon, helping those in need is truly a family affair: their family has generously donated time, resources, and expertise for going on three generations!
Starting with Irwin Sandler, Dr. Rae’s father, helping founder Donn Eley acquire land for our first building, the Sandler Simon family have been passionate advocates of the Brent’s Place mission since the beginning. When Irwin became ill with MDS, a form of leukemia, Dr. Rae and her mother, Anne, saw first-hand the power of a caring community during a medical crisis. Though they had housing, Dr. Rae remembers wishing for more connection with other caregivers: “I didn’t know who else was going through this. It was so isolating.”
After Irwin passed away, Dr. Rae and Anne channeled their grief into helping others find that connection in their time of need. Their family began fundraising for Brent’s Place, and Dr. Rae offered her expertise as an on-call, pro bono psychologist for both families and staff, a contribution she continues today. Dr. Rae also serves on our EAC committee and participates in our Roadless Ride fundraiser, which her father helped establish through his love of cycling and helping children. Dr. Rae’s husband, Josh, joined our Board in 2018, working to find new housing options like our first adult units at The Forum apartments. Since their birth, their children have lovingly raised money for our families through lemonade stands, birthday parties, and more.
WE RISE in gratitude of the entire Sandler Simon family’s continued support and their matching donation.
When Bill and Karen of Wyoming arrived in Denver for Bill’s bone marrow transplant, they faced a rollercoaster of emotions: relief that the life-saving treatment was finally at hand but also fear that things might not work out the way they hoped. Added to that was the anxiety of where they would stay during Bill’s recovery. “The expense of an apartment in Denver would have been crushing,” Bill remembers.
Luckily, there was a Brent’s Place apartment available to them at the nearby Forum complex. In March 2021, the pair arrived at their new home away from home.
While Karen enjoyed the comfortable accommodations, the ability to connect with others was what kept her going. “We had no family or friends nearby, so just knowing that my neighbor knew what we were going through or that I could go down to the office and chat with Lisa was a huge relief,” Karen remembers, referring to Adult Family Support Manager Lisa Dowd.
Three months after moving into Brent’s Place, the couple celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. Karen looks back on the milestone with pride: “Being together was special enough.”
WE RISE as a community brought together to shelter those in need and to provide compassionate support throughout a medical crisis.
The WE RISE campaign provides us with a unique opportunity to highlight the many branches of our family tree of compassionate care, including those faces that serve our families everyday. As a staff, WE RISE united in our mission to meet the needs of families far from home and in search of a medical miracle.
Our volunteers lift up our families in many ways. From meal support to front desk service, these helping hands give of their time and spirit however they can.
For Karen, one of our most artistic volunteers, that time is spent with a paintbrush in her hand. A painter since grade school, Karen can be found several days a week bringing a colorful cast of characters to life on the walls of our TV room. Her amazing illustrations bring a bit of familiar cartoon comfort to our young residents who are far from home, perfectly marrying her desire to give back with her natural talents.
“I was lucky enough to have healthy kids and grandkids,” she says, “and this is a way for me to help others.”
WE RISE in service to our families thanks in part to those who are willing to share their incredible gifts with our community. See Karen's talents in action below.
Thanks to the generosity of you, our compassionate community, we’re just about to wrap up our WE RISE campaign. But before we do, we wanted to give a special shout-out to a long-time friend of Brent’s Place and a matching donor behind this campaign: Terry “Topper” Staples and the Staples family.
Known throughout Brent’s Place for both his strategic vision and avoidance of the limelight, Topper has been an advocate of the Brent’s Place mission and a supporter of residents like Liam, pictured here, for many years. In his roles as a member of the Brent Eley Center Board and the foundation’s Strategic Planning Committee, Topper draws on his years of experience as a real estate developer to help Brent’s Place identify new ways to serve our growing population.
WE RISE thanks to the support of the Staples family and all our matching donors for their generosity and commitment to providing those in need with a Safe-Clean home away from home.