The 17th annual UCHealth Memorial “The Future is Here” Gala had a special purpose, and the nearly 800 guests raised a record $500,000 to help make it come true.

The focus: the UCHealth Center for Orthopedics and the Spine Institute at Grandview Hospital on the city’s north side. Grandview opened in 2017 as a micro hospital and emergency room but has evolved into advanced orthopedic and sports medicine care as well.

The riveting story of Terry Stauffer and his family brought home the importance of full care closer to home for those in southern Colorado, said members of the gala-coordinating UCHealth Memorial Foundation.

The retired Aurora firefighter and his grandsons were driving through a fierce hailstorm near Limon in May 2018 when an oncoming truck with bald tires, on a two-lane highway, hydroplaned into Stauffer’s little car. The grandfather instinctively pulled to the right so he, not his young grandsons, would take the full hit.

Heavy hail prevented an air lift to Denver, sending the helicopter to UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central. It was surprising that the severely injured Stauffer lived long enough to get to the hospital, staff knew. Besides a brain hemorrhage and severe fractures, he had a torn thoracic aorta, something that kills 85% of such patients, the evening’s video explained.

Instead, a year later, at the May 4 gala, Terry Stauffer walked on stage to emotionally hug members of his Memorial medical team and to wave to tables of ICU nurses and first responders.

“Thank you for giving me my dad back, thank you for giving my kids their grandfather back,” said his daughter, Tara Scott. “Access to care close to home was critical to my dad.” The family also thanked Craig Hospital in Englewood, where he went six weeks for therapy. He was home in Calhan two months after the accident.

As UCHealth Memorial Hospital President and CEO Joel Yuhas said, health care does indeed “take a village.”

An entertainment highlight of the evening was Dan Dunn’s PaintJam, improvisational speed painting on giant canvases. The works were auctioned for several thousand dollars each, including one of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Porsche Gran Turismo. The energetic, paint-spattered artist has performed around the world and for celebrities including Jimmy Fallon, Sir Richard Branson and Ellen DeGeneres. Always smiling, he said later that he is a cancer survivor and has the mantra, “I give myself permission to have fun!”

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