It started in 2006 as a unique fund raiser and occasion to don formal attire and enjoy an elegant evening by the mighty Kenai River. The idea of Ed Krohn and the founders of the Central Peninsula Health Foundation was to establish assistance for community members battling cancer and other debilitating diseases and their caregivers. Past events have been held under the cover of tents on the banks of the Kenai River and have hosted cancer surviving all stars such as four time back to back Iditarod champion Lance Mackey.
Since its inception the Central Peninsula Health Foundation has raised over $3.3 million dollars, according to executive director Kathy Gensel. The Evening by the River moved to the Landing a few years ago to more comfortably accommodate supporters and this year was held at the new River Tower at Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH). A large gathering of physicians, health care providers and community leaders responded to the invitation to attend the gala and pony up $250 for a ticket that included a hosted reception and heavy hors d’ oeuvres with a lively auction and the presentation of this year’s Dr. Isaak Scholarship winners.
Among them was Bruce Richards, CPH financial director.
“Recently the Foundation became a supporting foundation for the hospital. A lot of people thought that it already was but now that has formally happened and the Central Peninsula Health Foundation is officially linked to the hospital and we’re celebrating by having this great event here at the River Tower this year and we’re very grateful for this great turnout and all those who step up to help those in our community. When our friends and neighbors get really ill and run into tough circumstances medically finances are pretty rough and this is an opportunity for the foundation to help them through that time wherever the need is the greatest. There are some great stories of those who have received assistance from the foundation and have come back around later and paid it forward with a donation to help someone else. It’s a heartwarming thing for our community,” Richards said in an interview with the Dispatch.
It wasn’t very long ago when the Central Peninsula was served by only two pioneer bush pilot physicians, Paul Isaak and Elmer Gaede.
“I grew up here and remember when they were the only two docs around and there was no hospital, only a clinic, and now to walk into a facility such as we have here at CPH, it’s hard to believe you’re still in Soldotna and we are truly blessed to have this great facility so patients don’t have to leave home and go to Anchorage the way we always use to have to and Dr. Isaak doesn’t have to fly you to Seward to have a baby. Those days are history but it’s still the same great community and the difference is people can stay home now and get the care they need,” added Richards.
In memory of Dr. Isaak, the members of his family and the Foundation have established the Dr. Isaak scholarship for those interested in pursuing a health care career. This year’s recipients of the $1,000 scholarships are Sophia Sorensen and Jonathan Standerfer.
“This is a huge honor and this fall I’ll be attending Eastern Oregon University to earn a major in psychology and to return home and practice here in the future,” said Sorensen.
“This semester I’ll be going to UAA to pursue my bachelors in biological science before going to the University of Washington to eventually earn a medical degree. This is home and I’ll definitely be coming home to practice in the future. I’ll do whatever it takes to care for those who have helped me have this opportunity,” said Standerfer.
The Central Peninsula Health Foundation is a supporting foundation for Central Peninsula Hospital. For more information go to www.givingheals.org.