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Reviving Hope, Rebuilding Strength


The Bonner General Health Foundation and the Find Your Strength Fun Run By Damen Rodriguez|Photo by Willow Solly Photography


In the scenic heartland of Bonner County, a remarkable event stands as a beacon of health and hope—the Bonner General Health Foundation's Find Your Strength Fun Run. The foundation, which was revived in 2007, is in its second year of this extravaganza, and it has quickly become an integral part of the community, igniting a spark of inspiration and camaraderie among its participants. As we explore the journey of this dynamic race and its impact on the community, we had the pleasure of conversing with Patty Hutchens, vice president of the Board, and Amelia Boyd, the passionate race director and Board member, who shed light on the event's evolution and the profound difference it makes in countless lives.

The Find Your Strength Fun Run is more than just a race; it embodies the spirit of unity and resilience that thrives in the picturesque corner of the world. Since its revival, the Bonner General Health Foundation has worked diligently to develop resources and expand services to cater to the community's unique needs. "Our goal is to promote fitness and exercise while raising awareness about the comprehensive services Bonner General Health provides,” affirmed Patty. “We secure funds for crucial equipment and services that may not be covered in the hospital's operating budget, ensuring that every individual and their loved ones receive the care they truly deserve."

The foundation's relentless pursuit of excellence has not gone unnoticed, as it has raised a staggering $1.5 million over the years. These funds have been strategically invested in various projects that positively impact the community's well-being. One such notable project was catalyzed by the monumental success of the 2023 Heart Ball. According to Patty, "Bonner General had over 1,000 unfilled orders for mammography," emphasizing the urgent need for a second 3-D mammography machine at the imaging center. The community's boundless generosity and unwavering support allowed the foundation to achieve their goal, resulting in a remarkable 40 percent increase in the number of mammograms performed.

The foundation's ambition and compassion go beyond traditional health care. One groundbreaking project that filled Patty's eyes with excitement was the decision to purchase an Exoskeleton, a cutting-edge technology poised to revolutionize rehabilitation. "We first learned about the Exoskeleton a few years ago when the Physical Therapy Department presented us with the information," she said, her voice brimming with anticipation. The profound significance of this initiative lies in its deeply personal connection to the community. Local resident Chris Owens, paralyzed in a logging accident over a decade ago, played a pivotal role in inspiring this revolutionary endeavor. Through the therapy with the Exoskeleton, Chris experienced a life-changing transformation, regaining significant strength in his core and taking steps with the assistance of wrist canes—a feat he had not accomplished in years. Unfortunately, the nearest facility offering this therapy was a four-hour drive away, presenting a substantial obstacle for those seeking the treatment.

However, obstacles are no match for the foundation's indomitable spirit. Their vision extends far beyond the borders of Bonner County, aiming to make a broader impact on the region's health care landscape. As Patty stated, "Once the therapists are trained in using the Exoskeleton, Bonner General Health will be reaching out to other care providers in Idaho and Western Montana as well as Eastern Washington." The foundation's outreach initiative seeks to spread awareness about Bonner General's pioneering therapy department, fostering a ripple effect that would extend the life-transforming benefits of Exoskeleton treatment to a broader population.

Amidst the myriad of projects, the Find Your Strength Fun Run shines as the crown jewel of the foundation's endeavors. More than just a fundraising event, this extraordinary initiative serves as a platform to promote health and wellness throughout the community. "Our goal is to promote fitness and exercise," Patty emphasized, sharing the excitement surrounding this year's collaboration with Sandpoint Strength and Conditioning and Flourish Nutrition. Through this partnership, participants are equipped with "Couch to 5k" training tips and nutritious recipes, empowering them to embrace a healthier lifestyle while contributing to a noble cause.

In Bonner County, where outdoor adventure and retirement living thrive, the foundation understands that instances of injury, stroke and other medical issues might cause individuals to lose their ability to walk. The Find Your Strength Fun Run serves as more than just a fundraising effort; it is a ray of hope for those seeking treatment that could potentially restore mobility and significantly enhance strength. Patty's thoughtfulness shines through as she contemplates the profound impact this event can have on individuals and the community as a whole. In their relentless pursuit of improving lives, the foundation's Board plays a crucial role as passionate ambassadors for Bonner General Health. Patty humbly clarified, "Despite our incredible achievements, we do not hold any authority over the hospital's operations or decision-making process. However, we remain informed on various matters and wholeheartedly support the mission of Bonner General Health."

As the foundation looks ahead, greater achievements lie on the horizon. Their highly successful Hometown Health Grants program continues to play a pivotal role in providing essential equipment and resources to various hospital departments. "To date, the Bonner General Health Foundation Board has awarded $70,000 in grants," Patty shared. Demonstrating their unwavering commitment to the well-being of Bonner County's residents, they have earmarked $50,000 this year alone for further assistance to Bonner General Health’s various departments.

Transparency and community involvement are not just buzzwords for the foundation; they are integral to their ethos. Interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to connect with the Board members or attend quarterly advisory council meetings. This accessibility reflects their firm belief in the value of community collaboration and ensures that all members of the community remain informed and engaged in their work.

As the eagerly anticipated date of September 23 approaches, the community's anticipation for the Find Your Strength Fun Run runs high. This joyous 5k and superhero-themed 1k run, a testament to the spirit of togetherness, will commence and conclude at the scenic Sandpoint City Beach. Meandering through the picturesque Sand Creek trail, the race offers a captivating backdrop to the noble cause it supports. The run's exuberance and excitement will culminate in a family fun after-party on the lawn of Trinity at City Beach, inviting participants to revel in the sense of community and camaraderie that lies at the heart of the event. The Find Your Strength Fun Run transcends the boundaries of a typical fundraising event; it symbolizes the spirit of unity that thrives in Bonner County's picturesque corner.

In a world where chaos often overshadows kindness, the Bonner General Health Foundation stands tall as a beacon of hope and healing. Guided by their unwavering dedication, they restore strength and vitality to those in need, creating a ripple effect that resonates far beyond the boundaries of any course. The Find Your Strength Fun Run becomes a celebration of life and progress, where the community can run together toward a brighter and healthier future.

With hearts united, let us all heed the call and run with the spirit of camaraderie, compassion and courage in the Find Your Strength Fun Run. For in this extraordinary event, we discover that running for a cause can lead us to a finish line far beyond the realm of any track or trail. It is a finish line that transcends boundaries, reaching into the very fabric of a community's collective spirit, to a horizon where hope thrives, health flourishes and strength prevails.

As the community rallies together, the Find Your Strength Fun Run paves the way for a brighter and healthier future for all. As participants lace up their running shoes and don their superhero-themed attire, they become champions of change, advocates for better health care and beacons of hope for those in need.

The collective heartbeat of the community echoes through the scenic expanse of Bonner County, resonating with a resolute message of unity and compassion. With every stride taken, the runners carry the dreams of those who have benefited from the foundation's tireless efforts. Each step is a testament to the unwavering dedication of Patty Hutchens, Amelia Boyd, and the entire Bonner General Health Foundation team, who work tirelessly to ensure that no one in the community is left behind when it comes to health care access. As the finish line approaches, a sense of accomplishment pervades the air, mingling with the joyous cheers of friends, family and supporters who have gathered to witness this remarkable event.

To participate in this year’s Find Your Strength Fun Run, register online at BonnerGeneral.org/find-your-strength-5k-1k-fun-run. There are also many sponsorship opportunities available. Please contact Patty Hutchens at pattyhutchens@gmail.com for more information.



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