New Foundation program creates unique excursions for Primary patients

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The excursion was a lasting memory made possible through the new “Honorary Grandparents” program, currently in pilot at Intermountain Foundation - Primary Children’s Hospital. So far, six families have benefitted, and an additional 12-15 are expected to be served this year.

“I’m so excited about this program,” said Orley Bills, LCSW, who oversees Rainbow Kids.  “We see so many families who have complex, long-term chronic conditions, and it’s a lot to handle. To be able to say, ‘Take a breath and let us do something nice for you’ is just wonderful.”

Bert Zimmerli, Executive VP and CFO, and his wife Lynnie, started the program and is supported by donors, the fund is an endowment that provides specially-tailored, memorable experiences to pediatric patient families struggling with life-limiting or life-altering diagnoses. The Zimmerli’s established the program in memory of Bert’s father, Albert E. Zimmerli. Bert said he wanted to honor his father because “he served others in a very unselfish way with compassion, commitment, sacrifice, and great love during his lifetime.”

The Primary Children’s Palliative Care team (also called the “Rainbow Kids”) reviews eligibility and recommend recipients. A team at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area then works with eligible families to design a personalized family experience -- which may include anything from princess parties to fishing excursions to visits to an animal sanctuary.

The new Honorary Grandparents program enhances the existing partnership between Primary Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. In 2013, a Ronald McDonald Family Room was opened at the hospital, providing respite and support for patient families during a hospital stay.

“These occasions bring families closer together at a difficult time and deliver unbelievable joy to the patients and their loved ones,” said Carrie Romano, Ronald McDonald House CEO. “We are delighted that so many generous ‘Honorary Grandparent’ donors are making meaningful experiences for families.”

You don’t have to be a grandparent to give, and all levels of contributions help! If you are interested in participating, go to primarychildrens.org/give or contact the Foundation office at (801) 662-5971.