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HealthReach honors heroes

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Hundreds of local business leaders, elected officials, philanthropists, health care professionals and faith and civic leaders gathered May 10 for the joyful HealthReach Heroes Luncheon at The Brawley Estate in Mooresville.

The crowd enjoyed perfect springtime weather for the upbeat special event, held in honor of the volunteers and partners who make it possible for HealthReach to provide free medical care and medications for neighbors in need. Kelley Earnhardt Miller, who was introduced by state Sen. Vickie Sawyer, delighted participants as the special guest speaker.

HealthReach Board Chair Martha Michael welcomed everyone to the event, saying, “Today we are celebrating the volunteers and partners of HealthReach Community Clinic — our heroes!

“The services we provide at HealthReach help patients avoid the emergency department and help people stay healthy so that they can fulfill their full potential at work, at home, at church and throughout the community. And, yes, the care we provide very often saves lives.”

She thanked local officials who were in attendance for their leadership, including Sawyer, state Rep. Grey Mills, Iredell County Commissioner Melissa Neader, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell and Mooresville Police Chief Ron Campurciani.

Michael and fellow board member Kathryn Nusbaum surprised Executive Director Dr. Sabrina Niggel with a bouquet of flowers and words of appreciation for successfully leading HealthReach through the challenging days of the pandemic.

Community partners thanked

Niggel then spoke at length about the outpouring of support that enabled the organization to overcome unprecedented obstacles, including the loss of key medical volunteers, supply chain shortages, a lack of protective gear and having to cancel the clinic’s annual fundraising events in 2020 and 2021.

She recognized Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, Iredell Health System, Atrium Health, Novant Health, Piedmont HealthCare and the Iredell County Health Department for their steadfast clinical support.

Also recognized for their contributions were key corporate partners attending the luncheon, including Baird, BestCo, Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Corriher & Michael, Corvid, First Citizens Bank, Lakeside Stables, Lake Norman Realty, Mooresville Ford, NGK Ceramics, Randy Marion Auto Group, Sawyer Insurance, Sleepme, Southeast Turf, Truist, and Whitfield & Mock.

Niggel noted that faith and civic partners, as well as grant makers like The Dale Jr. Foundation, were likewise heroic in their efforts to support HealthReach.

The audience was then treated to remarks by Miller. She spoke passionately about why she and The Dale Jr. Foundation support HealthReach. She shared personal insight into her life and career, drawing on lessons she alludes to in her recently published book, “Drive: 9 Lessons to Win in Business and in Life.” She also complimented the clinic’s success in serving vulnerable neighbors and thanked volunteers for their bravery and dedication.

Volunteers recognized

Niggel later recognized volunteers and staff for their service, pointing out that HealthReach volunteers outnumber their paid staff by 4 to 1. Volunteers in attendance included Cheryl Bernhardt, Laurie Dodge, Bernadett Hackney, Sharon Kiger, Bill Hurt, Mary Hurt, Cathy Leitch, Lauren Lu, Molly Meusburger and Dr. Lucy Preyer.

“It’s important to note that these are not one-and-done volunteers,” Niggel said. “These folks spend weeks training with our team, learning our EMR system, taking OSHA and HIPAA tests, and then they serve a minimum number of hours every single week. Many risked their lives and that of their families to volunteer in the middle of the pandemic.

“These volunteers are the very definition of hero. They are brave, they are dedicated, and they are changing our community for the better, one patient at a time,” said Niggel.

Niggel also recognized a special group of students — the HealthReach interns — some of whom have served at HealthReach all four years of their undergraduate education. Internships are competitive and provide hands-on learning opportunities for aspiring physicians.

Interns attending the luncheon from Davidson College included Luis Cordero, Paul Gomez, Rasikh Hamid, Rayed Hamid and Tifani Panek. Representing N.C. State University was Leslie Uy and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kayla Doughty.

“Our HealthReach interns are truly the best and the brightest of students. They will absolutely change the world for the better,” Niggel said.

Award recipients named

Each year HealthReach recognizes the three volunteers who have served the greatest number of hours. Receiving awards for their service in 2021 were Mary Hurt, Cathy Leitch and Dr. Lucy Preyer.

Sharon Kiger was awarded the highest honor bestowed by HealthReach, the Jay Lewis Award, named in honor of the clinic’s visionary. Bonnie Lewis, Jay Lewis’ widow, as well as their son, Mac, and grandson, Joshua, traveled from Raleigh to participate in the luncheon and help recognize Kiger as the 2022 recipient.

Niggel shared that Kiger has served for more than 11 consecutive years as a HealthReach volunteer.

“She has literally performed every administrative task there is to do in our clinic, from coordinating referrals and greeting patients to entering data and organizing supplies,” Niggel said.

Over the past year, Kiger took on two sizeable projects, facilitating a software transition for the clinic and organizing the inaugural Boos & Brews Street Festival in October 2021.

“Much of this event’s success is attributable to Sharon,” said Niggel.

Special gifts for volunteers

As a special token of appreciation for their service, all HealthReach team members were invited to select one of Cotton Ketchie’s limited edition prints. Ketchie and his wife, Vickie, brought a selection of these prints to the luncheon and personally assisted volunteers with their selection.

Additionally, Miller donated signed, personalized copies of her book for each of the volunteer award winners. LaToya Rudolph, the HealthReach patient featured in a video testimonial shown at the event, was also treated to a personalized copy.

Michael beamed with appreciation.

“Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Cotton Ketchie are local heroes, so it meant so much to us that they donated these incredible gifts for our HealthReach heroes,” she said.

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