Meet the Donors

Real Life Heroes, Present & Past

Donations to Huntsville Hospital Foundation come in all shapes and sizes and from all corners of our greater community. What they all have in common is simple: Every gift touches lives throughout Muskoka, and thanks to every gift, we can all count on outstanding care today, and for tomorrow’s generation. Read more about our donor heroes and be inspired to join them!

Chris Wood

"Telling my adult children I had cancer was one of the toughest things I've ever done. That was about seven years ago here on Oxtongue Lake where we share adjacent properties. What made the rest of the journey more hopeful was the team at Huntsville Hospital - especially Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick. He helped me navigate the process, both here and in Toronto for specialized treatment. I'm playing with my children and my grandchildren today as a result. Having an amazing community hospital and team close by made the difference"

Sven Miglin

“You need great local healthcare – that’s how lives are saved. Hospitals are also economic engines. For both reasons, the consequences of not investing in it are extreme. It is a very important factor in our quality of life. But here’s the challenge: There is no shortage of things for the provincial government to spend money on. Every donation here, and every show of community support, reinforces that our hospital is worth provincial investments and attention. So I’m looking forward to the day when everyone in the Huntsville area sees our hospital as their hospital and invests in it.”

Larry and Melissa Marshall

Larry and Melissa see Burks Falls as the perfect place to live. We have horses here, nature all; around and a supportive community. We wake up to this every day. We also wake up knowing an amazing hospital is close by. That came in handy when I found myself entangled in the treads of my tractor in December of 2019. Melissa had to pull me free while calling 911. The emergency team was efficient and brilliant; I was stabilized and in Toronto by air ambulance inside three hours. Knowing that team is so close to me in Burks Falls and to everyone on the lakes and rivers from here to Huntsville is reassuring. As a hospital maintenance employee, I give to Huntsville Hospital every month. They can count on me and I know I can count on them. Larry and Melissa Marshall

Karen Girling and Bruce MacLellan

Karen Girling and Bruce MacLellan have been continuous donors to Hunstville Hospital for 30 years. Their families have been members of  the Huntsville/Lake of Bays community for five generations. 

"Our deep roots here informed our decision to keep supporting a local cause that made the most sense for the good of the most people here," says Bruce. "That cause is hospital care for everyone in and around Huntsville."

"Huntsville Hospital can count on us every year, whether it’s  equipment purchases, Radiothon, special events, in memoriam donations, or all of the above," adds Karen. “And this year we joined the Hospital’s Legacy Circle. Through bequests in our wills, the Hospital will receive much-needed funds and our family will receive a tax receipt to offset estate taxes. Modern health care requires constant upgrades: new digital tools, connectivity, scanners, even functional furniture - everything not funded by taxes. Our Legacy Gift ensures a future that includes updated hospital equipment."

Over the last 10 years, Karen and Bruce have focused their giving on equipment that reflects change in the community. Their $115,000 in support to help Huntsville Hospital acquire bone densitometry technology is a great example. 

"That kind of informed giving reflects changing health care needs locally - with a densitometer, our hospital can be better prepared to serve an aging population," says Bruce.

"Continuity of giving, no matter what size the gift, helps an organization like Huntsville Hospital plan, thrive and grow," concludes Karen . "That is why we give every year, and that is why we'll give a final Legacy gift when we're gone."

Dani Reiss

President and CEO of Canada Goose, Dani Reiss has enjoyed many years coming to the Huntsville/Lake of Bays area as a child, and now more recently spends time here with this own family. The Dani Reiss Family Foundation has committed over $1 million to help Huntsville Hospital acquire advanced technology.

Eric & Vizma Sprott

Community leaders and seasonal residents Eric and Vizma Sprott have long been known for their generous support of health care in Ottawa and Toronto. A $1 Million gift from their Foundation to the Huntsville Hospital Foundation will have an equally substantial impact on healthcare here. Thank you so much to the Sprotts for their generosity and commitment to healthcare for life, here.

Violet Udy

The late Violet Udy lived in Huntsville for over 50 years. She and her husband moved here for the outdoor life and had a great affinity for Algonquin Park and camping in the North. They lived in the simple home they built on a main street in town.

“Violet felt a growing attachment to the hospital here,” recalls David. “It was a gradual realization that she could accomplish a greater good by giving to an organization like the Huntsville Hospital Foundation rather than naming individuals she did not know.”

Yet chances are good few people who live here knew Violet well. She was quiet and kept to herself, living a frugal life and not really engaging in the social fabric of Huntsville. When her husband died at age 91 and with her son passing away at age 60, Violet was left to her own thoughts – and, according to her lawyer, David Currie, those thoughts increasingly turned to what she might do with her estate.

Violet Udy’s last Will and Testament was a significant, seven-figure Planned Gift to Huntsville Hospital Foundation that will improve the delivery of hospital care here for generations to come. “She was quite lovely, very private and very strong-minded,” says David. “Both she and her husband loved the Huntsville area. So her perspective was very clear: Planned Giving helps me enrich the community as opposed to enriching the lives of individuals.”

Though we didn’t know her, everyone in Huntsville can be thankful that Violet Udy stood for the greater good of this community, the values of Huntsville Hospital Foundation and the future of Huntsville Hospital itself.

Francine And Matt Gaasenbeek

Francine and Matt Gaasenbeek and their daughters have spent a generation (over 18 years) on Lake of Bays as cottagers. In addition to being avid wake surfers, skiers, kayakers and golfers, the family is also totally committed to the Huntsville and Lake of Bays community – and especially to the local hospital.

“We chose this area because it has everything Muskoka has to offer, but in a quieter, more natural setting,” says Francine. “We fell in love with Lake of Bays and Huntsville.”

She also understands and appreciates the importance of Huntsville Hospital in the context of being a seasonal property owner. Francine’s ‘hammer’ story tells the tale.

“We were setting up for a charity gala and everything was frantic and fun – as it should be when organizing a party. I’d rested a hammer on a ladder and was on the ground, sliding the ladder over about three feet to hang more decorations. The hammer slid, I looked up and that ‘lovely hammer’ came flying down on my head. I saw it coming – but couldn’t get out of the way.”

“We were all worried about a concussion, so Matt whisked me into Huntsville Hospital emergency. The doctors and nurses were great – compassionate and professional. And close by. As a family, we decided then and there to give and Matt used the story at our lake event to encourage others to match our $10,000 donation. I couldn’t believe the response – we raised approximately $120,000 that day. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our fellow cottagers. They love this area and community as much as we do.”

The Gaasenbeek family believes in the value of this community, its hospital and in helping where it matters.

“Huntsville hospital is for everyone: people who live here year- ’round and cottagers alike. We can help shape the infrastructure to keep improving it to its full potential – that’s the role of our donation and everyone’s support. The community here shares a magical place with us and we want to make sure that continues. That’s why we give now and will continue to support the hospital in the years ahead.”

“While I was in emergency, there was a young girl in the waiting room with her face swollen and covered with a rash. I felt terrible for her. I overheard the doctor ask her if she had been eating fresh mango in the sun. I thought what an odd question. When the young girl replied yes I was truly impressed. The doctor knew immediately what the problem was. Fresh mango on your skin and sun don’t go well together. It’s a small thing but an important comfort; our doctors here are on the ball. Knowing that means a lot to my family.”

The Gaasenbeek family believes in the value of this community, its hospital and in helping where it matters.

Elizabeth Rice

Elizabeth Rice took over the family business when she was just 26 years old after her dad passed away in 1991. Of course, the ‘family business’ was better known as The Huntsville Forester, and there were big shoes to fill as publisher, chief cook and bottle washer.

“Many years later, it came to the point that I’d either have to invest heavily in technology to keep up with the changing face of publishing a local newspaper or sell it,” remembers Liz.

The price of that technology and the uncertainty of change in print media made up her mind for her, and she sold The Forester to Metroland Media in 2005. It was the right call – but a few years later, with a local team around her, Liz was back in the news business as a founder in Doppler – Huntsville’s online news community.

“I got back in because I was frustrated with local news coverage – not the people writing it, but how small the news hole is. I wanted to capture the vibrancy of this community, and I wanted to do it in a timely fashion. Doppler is the right medium for doing that.”

Change and technology sum up much of Liz’s story when it comes to supporting Huntsville Hospital, too.

“In 2002, I helped raise $20,000 locally for new mammography technology. That technology has been replaced once already, and the pace of advancement in healthcare technology is even faster now. We don’t have the choice I had with the paper – to stay in the business or sell and move on. Keeping our healthcare technology current is an ongoing necessity in this community – and that’s a big part of why I give.”

Liz understands that while the province does a lot with our healthcare tax dollars, it’s up to the community to raise funds for the technology our professionals depend on.

“Our practitioners care about their roles and this community – it’s far more than an OHIP billing exercise. Everyone is in this together including our medical professionals. It’s far more personal here. When you need help, they step up. Donating to healthcare in Huntsville is a no-brainer. It’s just the right thing to if you can.”

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