The 25th Annual Big Stone Health Care Foundation Gala was held on Saturday, April 21, at Sioux Historic Pavilion. Over 430 guests set a... Big Stone Health Care Foundation Silver Gala Raises Funds for OAHS

The 25th Annual Big Stone Health Care Foundation Gala was held on Saturday, April 21, at Sioux Historic Pavilion. Over 430 guests set a record for attendance. “The main goal of the fundraiser has always been and will continue to be physician recruitment,” said Vanessa Lhotka-Meyer, director of the foundation. “There are 11 providers currently at OAHS, but they are still recruiting. The plan is to give back to the community more of what they need without the added burden of travel to obtain it,” she says. In the past, funds have also benefited the dialysis unit, Fairway View Senior Communities, the Fairway Bus program, and the Ortonville hospital remodeling project.

The Big Stone Health Care Foundation was formed in 1990 in an effort to keep Ortonville from joining the list of small towns across the country losing their hospitals. The foundation was proposed by former hospital administrator Dan Olson. Former Ortonville Mayor Paul Taffe, Dr. Robert Ross, and Marilyn Lindahl were early supporters and “foundational members” of the foundation.

Initially, the group set out to find 10 contributors and raise $75,000 in three months. The deadline was looming and things still looked bleak, when Dr. Robert Ross, Dr. Michael Sampson, and Dr. Ron Beyer donated $78,300 to get the ball rolling. The staff followed. Using the payroll deduction plan, the hospital employees raised $45,000. The community also began to embrace the idea and within three years the foundation raised over $1 million.

The Oak Tree Classic was started as its chief fundraiser. A year later, area women created a fundraiser they referred to as a Friend-raiser. They booked the armory, hired a local swing band, and all made pans of bars. Ten years later, the Friend-raiser became what is now known as the gala. Community support continues to grow. This year, 34 sponsors contributed and 432 guests attended – up from 349 last year.

Talk at the 2018 gala also turned to thoughts about next year’s gala. “This is a community-owned nonprofit, and we would like to see the community take more ownership in it by telling us what they would like to see,” stated Lhotka-Meyer, “We’re here to serve you. We are shaping how we want the next 25 years to be and celebrating the success of the past. We look forward to implementing changes to embrace the younger generation that is coming on board with support for the Foundation. And, we always look to support the local businesses and accommodate the generations of friends who continually support and donate to the foundation”.

Want to donate or get involved? Contributions and volunteers are always welcome. Contact the foundation at (320) 839-4135, or check out their website at

Staff Writer

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