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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

Couple hopes gift to Adopt A Room will give ill children and their families brighter days ‘for decades to come’

Mary and Rich Ostlund (Photo: Scott Streble)

As their three children were growing up, Rich and Mary Ostlund had become very involved in their kids’ extracurricular activities. But when their youngest child went off to college, Rich and Mary suddenly had more time on their hands—and a bold idea.

“We wanted to find two or three charities that we could give as much time to as [we gave to] our kids,” Rich says.

A colleague introduced the Ostlunds to the University Pediatrics Foundation (UPF) through WineFest, the organization’s premier event that raises money for pediatrics research, education, and care at the University of Minnesota. A few years later, UPF’s board of directors invited Rich to join the group officially. Rich says he was happy to sign on, especially with an organization that supported children.

“It was an area where we felt we could have a lasting impact—to help sick kids and their families for decades to come,” he says.

A new commitment

The Ostlunds’ commitment to pediatrics at the University has only grown since Rich joined the UPF board in 2003. Rich became chair of the board in 2008, and he and Mary recently made a gift of $200,000 to sponsor a room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital (UMACH) and another $50,000 to be used at the discretion of the Department of Pediatrics chair.

Through UPF, the Ostlunds met Brian Schepperle and David Millington, the two dads who conceived the idea for Adopt A Room. “I was so impressed with their passion, what they were doing, and what they had been able to accomplish,” Rich says.

Both Schepperle and Millington have lost young daughters to disease, and both of their families had spent significant amounts of time in hospital rooms, which always seemed cramped and uninviting.

But through “adopted” rooms in UMACH’s new facility, scheduled to open in 2011, the already larger-than-standard rooms will be upgraded to include such family-friendly features as tables for eating dinner and doing homework, large-screen TVs for watching movies and connecting with school, and bedside consoles that let children control their environment. The goal is for each room in the hospital to be sponsored by donors.

Chance to make a difference

The Ostlunds believe that life gives people opportunities to make a difference, and this was one of theirs. They hope their “adopted” hospital room will brighten ill children’s days and will help keep families together during tough times.

“Countless Minnesota families’ precious children and grandchildren will depend on the Amplatz Children’s Hospital as their lifeline and source of hope,” Mary says. “It’s comforting to know that there is world-class research and care they can receive here in our home state.”

“Our hope,” adds Rich, explaining why he and Mary agreed to share their story, “is that this gift might be magnified by inspiring others in our community to consider supporting children’s health in this way and to continue a tradition in both our families of doing what you can to make our community a better place to live.”

To find out how you or your company can adopt a room, contact Elizabeth Patty at 612-273-8638 or e.patty@mmf. umn.edu.

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Because hope can go a long way

Learn more about how you can support children’s health at UofMHope.org


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