People and Places – July 2010

Skydiver jumps for Parkinson’s Skydiver Kevin Burkart has raised more than $65,000 toward a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Burkart had […]

Skydiver jumps for Parkinson’s

Skydiver Kevin Burkart has raised more than $65,000 toward a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Burkart had a goal of completing 200 jumps on June 14. He got most of those jumps completed before nightfall; the event had been delayed due to heavy fog that morning. The event was held at Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wis.

In 2008, Burkart staged the event, 100 Perfect Jumps for Parkinson’s disease. He increased the goal to 200 this year. His motivation is his father, Gary, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999.

Burkart was pleased with the total raised and thanked all who donated.  

Photo courtesy of 200 Perfect Jumps

The Burkart family’s journey with Parkinson Disease has been long and difficult. The family has dealt with medications, side effects, frustrations, life style changes and depression. Gary Burkart has been treated at the Struthers Parkinson Center in Golden Valley. The family is involved with the Parkinson Association of Minnesota (PAM) and the National Parkinson Foundation, and attends many conferences and seminars to stay current on research and development.

Kevin Burkart served on the PAM board from 2005 – 2007. His goal for the 2010 event was to raise $60,000, to be split between PAM and the National Parkinson Foundation. He has about 1,000 skydives to his credit, and placed seventh at the US Nationals in 2006 as a member of Fast Forward, a four-way formation skydiving team that won the Open Division of the Northern Plains Skydiving League. The Web site for the event is www.perfectjumps.com  [Source: Perfect Jumps]

UCare for seniors extends programs

UCare’s community benefit program has awarded $100,000 in funding to the Senior Companion Program offered by Lutheran Social Service (LSS), based in St. Paul. UCare also is actively offering the program to UCare for Seniors members in four of Minnesota’s largest metropolitan areas. The UCare grant will support LSS’s senior outreach program, which recruits and engages volunteers to serve lonely and/or isolated adults who need support when other family members cannot be there; caregivers in need of respite; mentally or physically impaired individuals; or people recovering from an illness. Eligible seniors and other adults must live in their own residences but require assistance, companionship, and support from volunteers to remain independent. Four hundred Senior Companion volunteers current engage more than 1,800 homebound elderly adults in Minnesota.

UCare’s new partnership with LSS actively offers the Senior Companion program to UCare for Seniors members who live in the Twin Cities metro area, Brainerd lakes area, Duluth, and Stillwater. UCare for Seniors members age 55 and older will be matched with a volunteer, also aged 55 and older, who provides basic companionship activities. Senior Companion volunteers make home visits to clients about once a week for 3-4 hours. Volunteers can assist with light household tasks and provide transportation for medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands; however, volunteers cannot provide medical or home health care services or help with heavy chores or cleaning.

“As a nonprofit organization, UCare actively supports our community shareholders through our community benefit program grants,” said Nancy Feldman, President and CEO, UCare. “Our contributions to Lutheran Social Service’s Senior Companion program will help this low-cost, high-impact program reach and serve more senior Minnesotans, while encouraging others to experience the joy of volunteering.” [Source: UCare]

Groundbreaking for veterans’ home

Ground was broken June 14 at the Minneapolis Veterans Home for a new 100-bed skilled nursing facility. This building will replace Building 9, which was demolished in 2009 at the same location. Residents were moved from the building in November 2007 after structural problems were discovered. Construction for the new facility is scheduled to be complete by the spring of 2012.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is funding 65 percent or $19.2 million of the project. The state portion is 35 percent, or $10.1 million, and was appropriated in 2008.

The new facility is based on the state-of-the-art community or neighborhood person-centered care concept. In addition to single occupancy rooms with private bathrooms, the décor will be designed to bring in the look and feel of home. There will also be a central town center that incorporates nostalgic look featuring a coffee shop, beauty parlor, barbershop, theater and museum.

“The Minneapolis Veterans Home has made tremendous progress since early 2008, and this project is yet another example of our forward momentum. We are looking forward to using this new facility to continue to provide high quality care for our nation’s heroes,” said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Michael Pugliese.

In an effort to preserve some of the historical elements from the old structure, a number of original features and décor were preserved and will be incorporated and displayed in the new building, including the cornerstone, dated at the start of construction from the original building Nov. 11, 1934. [Source: Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs]

UCare’s Nancy Feldman honored

Nancy Feldman, President and CEO, UCare, received two honors from Minnesota’s health care and business communities that recognize her leadership role and longtime career in the state’s health care public service and nonprofit sectors. Feldman was honored by the Women’s Health Leadership Trust (WHLT) with its first Trusted Senior Leader Award. She received the honor this spring at WHLT’s Annual Forum, held at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley.

Feldman also was one of 25 businesswomen selected by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as “Industry Leaders” in the Twin Cities business community. The award describes the group of “Industry Leaders” as being “at the forefront of their industries.” The recognition was part of the Business Journal’s 13th Annual Women in Business event, held May 20 in Minneapolis.

“Nancy Feldman has led her organization in achieving major growth in enrollment .. . . community leadership, and UCare’s contributions to sound health care policymaking at the state and federal levels,” said Lorena Weaver, Vice President, Central Project Office, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, and active WHLT member. “Nancy stays focused on improving the health of individuals and communities while developing innovative products which have brought coordinated care and services to the disabled, seniors with chronic conditions, and individuals from diverse ethnic communities and backgrounds.”

Since 1995, Feldman has led UCare, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit health plan, and overseen its major growth in enrollment, revenues, and community leadership UCare milestones under Feldman’s guidance include membership growth from just more than 35,000 individuals in 1995 to 200,000 members today who are enrolled in Minnesota Health Care Programs and the UCare for Seniors Medicare Advantage plan in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. She has also overseen revenue growth from $88 million in 1995 to more than $1.6 billion in 2010.

Feldman previously was Director of State Public Programs for Medica. Her health-related positions with Minnesota state government included three years’ service as Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, and responsibilities at the Minnesota Department of Finance. She spent 10 years at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, handling many aspects of the state’s Medical Assistance Program, including development of Minnesota’s Medicaid managed care program.  [Source: UCare]

Disability Viewpoints wins award

Disability Viewpoints has won a 2010 ACM Hometown Video award. The cable television program has been co-produced by Mark Hughes and CTV North Suburbs for more than 11 years. The program’s focus is to give people and organizations an opportunity to promote the products and services they provide to people with disabilities and health issues.

The award was given in the Access-Able Professional category, for the December 2009 episode. The program has also won awards in 2003, 2005 and 2009.

The Hometown Video Awards are given through the Alliance for Community Media, a non-profit, national membership organization of more than 3,000 public, educational and government access organizations and community media center.

Disability Viewpoints can be seen statewide, from Hibbing to Rochester. Thirteen episodes were shown on TPT Minnesota Channel. [Source: North Suburban Communications Commission]

Learning disability didn’t slow her down

When Shanice Craig graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, she became the first in her family to earn a high school diploma. She also will attend college this fall, despite homelessness and a learning disability. Craig was profiled last month in the Pioneer Press.

The young woman and her mother had been homeless for two years. They are now in transitional housing, while waiting to get into Section 8 housing. Craig commuted 30 miles from St. Paul to Golden Valley for school in an old SUV to participate in her school’s dance program.

During her time at Perpich, Craig said she didn’t want her peers to know she was homeless. She didn’t want any attention and feared being treated differently. She preferred to concentrate on dance — a passion that doubled as a coping mechanism. “I used to come into the dance studio late,” she said seated at a table just outside the rehearsal room. “Just me and myself in the studio. When I dance, I feel free.”

Craig has maintained a 3.3 grade-point average bur didn’t pass the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests in math — a requirement for graduation. A Perpich learning specialist took a closer look and found Craig has a learning disability, which her previous schools didn’t discover. School officials also helped her file an appeal, to get into the University of Minnesota dance program. She earned a spot there based on an audition but poor math grades held her back. She won the appeal and will start at the University of Minnesota this fall. [Source: Pioneer Press]

Law enforcement in torch run

Law enforcement officers from the Ramsey County area ran in the Torch Run Final Leg to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota June 18. They ran seven miles through the area handing off the torch as part of the Final Leg, a multi-day event in which law enforcement representatives relay the “Flame of Hope” 2,000 miles across Minnesota to the celebration ceremonies of Special Olympics Minnesota State Summer Games.

The officers are part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the largest grass-roots fundraising and public awareness vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Worldwide. Its mission is to raise funds for, and awareness of, the Special Olympics movement worldwide. It began in 1981 in Wichita, Kansas as an opportunity for local officers to volunteer with Special Olympics in the communities where they live and work. Today, law enforcement from the 50 United States, 10 Canadian provinces and territories, and 32 countries carry the “Flame of Hope” as part of the Final Leg in honor of Special Olympics athletes in their area and around the world.

The 2010 Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games were held June 17-19 at the University of Minnesota. More than 1,100 athletes competed in the games and thousands of family, coaches, volunteers and fans cheering on the Law Enforcement Final Leg Torch runners as they ran the “Flame of Hope” onto the University of Minnesota campus to light the Special Olympics Minnesota cauldron. [Source: Ramsey County]