Dr. Kurt Andersen thinks about his best friend almost every day. He and the late Dr. Brent Ohl were high school classmates, both 1986 North Scott graduates.
When Ohl died from pancreatic cancer five years ago, Andersen and his family were with Ohl, his wife, Peggy, and sons Tom and Charlie for the whole journey.
Now, fast-forward five years, and Ohl’s memory and legacy continues to flourish through the Ohl Strong Foundation, and an endowment in his name at the UnityPoint Trinity Health Foundation.
Each October a fundraiser is held to raise money for both the endowment and Ohl Strong, and this year’s tailgate party will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Traditions in Eldridge.
And, for the first time, and in a show of unity, Genesis Health Systems has signed on as an elite sponsor with UnityPoint Health Trinity, and Halligan, McCabe and DeVries Funeral Home.
You can thank Andersen, the chief medical officer at Genesis, for making that connection.
“As a physician, I’ve certainly had my own patients deal with the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer,” said Anderson, “but then it became even more personal when I went through it with Brent, and watched what he and Peggy went through.
“I think for a long time, Ohl Strong has kind of been seen as a Unity Point philanthropy project. My wife (Katherine) and I have personally been involved with this from the beginning, and I just thought, you know, I work at the other health system in town, but pancreatic cancer affects patients of both health systems.
“I just thought we should be doing it together, and I brought it to our CEO’s attention, and he agreed that we should be a co-sponsor,” Andersen continued. “It’s great to have Genesis on board. It intersects my job with my personal life, and it’s a good thing for our cancer program to support.”
Peggy Ohl is appreciative of Genesis’ financial support.
“Genesis’ involvement means that we will hopefully reach more people, and be able to do a better job of getting the awareness out there,” she said. “It’s just one little step.
“The thing about this, is there is huge awareness for breast cancer or childhood cancers, and this is just a little flashlight that I’m shining on pancreatic cancer.”
“It’s a terrible, terrible cancer, and one of the toughest cancers for us to make progress on,” said Andersen. “I’m just happy that Genesis is part of the sponsorship team, and I’m happy to do something in collaboration with Unity Point.
“Sometimes we’re seen in the community as competitors, but we also can work together on things, and this is a small example of that.
“At end of the day, I obviously have a strong personal connection to Brent, Peggy and the boys,” he continued. “More importantly, it’s about using the tragedy that Brent and his family went through, and trying to take that and use it in a positive way in people’s lives.”