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One gift can change many lives


The butterfly effect – the idea that actions as small as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can lead to great movement beyond the immediate environment. At National Jewish Health, we see this taking place through patients and donors like Laurie. After we restored her health, she was able to resume her efforts improving the lives of myriad others through her work, volunteering, teaching and philanthropy. In addition, she has committed to leave a legacy at National Jewish Health through her estate so future generations can receive the life-saving care she received. 


The Gift of Health 

“It started with a tickle cough,” said Laurie. “It then progressed to sinus infections, an intense cough, low oxygen levels, and times when I couldn’t get enough air to hold a conversation while walking or exercising.” 

Over the course of several years, she was seen by a pulmonologist, allergist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist and rheumatologist. While she hoped this would give her a complete picture of what was going on, the specialists did not coordinate their care and diagnoses.  

“The gastroenterologist and others said there was nothing wrong,” explained Laurie. “The pulmonologist told me I was allergic to something the tests weren’t picking up and I should move across the country, but he had no suggestion as to where, as he couldn’t determine the allergen. He said if my condition continued, I was headed for even more serious medical issues.” 

When Laurie pushed for more definitive answers, the pulmonologist threw up his hands and said, “I am a leading diagnostician – other doctors send their patients to me for diagnosis. The only place better than me is National Jewish Health in Denver.” 

Her first series of appointments at National Jewish Health – the leading respiratory hospital in the nation – lasted a week. Forty-eight hours in, pulmonologist Ron Balkisoon, MD, and gastroenterologist Jeff King, MD, had a working hypothesis that turned out to be correct. The treatment plan included new medication and pulmonary rehab – physical therapy for the airways and related muscles.

“National Jewish Health is like the medical TV show House, but the care team is nice,” laughed Laurie. “There is a culture of investigating patients’ conditions cross functionally. Doctors from all specialties coordinate their testing and care to uncover what is truly going on.”

“By finding out what was really going on and treating me, Drs. Balkisoon and King enabled me to resume my life at the level I wanted to, which means exercising, being outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing and traveling without any issues,” she said. Laurie does all of this when she’s not working full time, teaching a course in five-hour blocks and volunteering for multiple organizations. In fact, to hear her describe the educational and volunteer work she does, one is struck by the multitude of lives that have been improved because Laurie was able to find the correct diagnosis at National Jewish Health. 


Planning Her Legacy

Laurie credits Drs. Balkisoon and King for giving her the gifts of hope and life. She wants to compound those gifts by paying them forward both in her estate and through a recurring monthly donation. “It’s not a lot, but it’s a start,” she said. It’s the flap of a butterfly’s wings. A gift of any size can have an unimaginable benefit in the lives of others.

Laurie has put her commitment in writing by signing a Legacy Intention Form – an amendable document declaring the hospital is in her will.  She is in her 50s and still working. Closer to retirement, she hopes to update that document to indicate a larger gift. 

“We have an opportunity to be intentional about what we leave for the people and organizations that are important,” explained Laurie. “It’s like planning for anything else in our lives; we just happen to call that final plan a will or estate plan. Included in my long-term plan is supporting National Jewish Health. It is a national treasure and should endure to give hope and life to even more families.”


New Year, New Plan

Have you set a resolution to create or update your estate plan? Join the Legacy Challenge. If you choose to include National Jewish in your will, trust, IRA or other provision, a generous donor will make a current donation in your name. Simply let us know by June 30, 2022, that you have included a legacy gift to National Jewish Health. A $1,000 donation will be made for each revocable commitment and a $5,000 gift for each irrevocable commitment. 

Already included National Jewish Health in your estate plans? You can still be a part of the Legacy Challenge by increasing your planned gift. That is what Laurie did, and a matching gift has already been made in her name.

Learn more at

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