Published on April 05, 2021

Gratitude Through Planned Giving: Ken Risdon’s Story

Duluth resident Ken Risdon in a suit and tie

Ken credits the Heart & Vascular professionals of Essentia Health for saving his life not once, not twice, but three times along with providing excellent, continuous care since he first became a patient so many years ago.

Long-term Heart & Vascular Patient Shows Gratitude Through Planned Giving: Ken Risdon’s Story

In 1987, Duluth resident Ken Risdon had his first heart attack and his life was placed in the hands of doctors at Essentia Health.

He was just 38 years old at the time and barely survived. His heart attack was followed by major surgery; and from there, Ken suffered two more attacks. The Ohio native has called Duluth ‘home’ since moving to Minnesota in 1975; he is now a retired professor who taught Technical Writing and other English courses during his time at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Ken credits the Heart & Vascular professionals of Essentia Health for saving his life not once, not twice, but three times along with providing excellent, continuous care since he first became a patient so many years ago.

Now age 74, Ken is a Cardiac Rehabilitation patient who has routine visits with the Essentia Cardiology department and works out at least once a week through a monitored physical exercise program at the Essentia Health campus. During the course of his care plan, Ken has experienced many positive outcomes in addition to meeting many people who have become part of his friend circle. He was even given a dog of his own, a Great Pyrenees, as part of his rehabilitation. This gave him a daily purpose and motivator to get outside and walk.

Ken speaks openly about how he believes wholeheartedly in Essentia Health’s ability to provide cutting-edge, effective medical care for those whom they serve.

“The care I have received has saved my life, and I am grateful. It has helped me, and I have never felt rushed or in the dark. My doctors have always been talkative, and it hasn’t been a problem getting in to see someone when I have needed them.”

Because of his positive experiences at Essentia Health, Ken has graciously been a long-term donor to the Essentia Health Foundation. As an expression of his gratitude for life, he encourages others to give back to the organization that he has witnessed help so many individuals and families both with cardiovascular needs, as well as comprehensively.

In fact, Ken has happily included the Essentia Health Foundation in his will to further the mission of Essentia Health: to make a healthy difference in people’s lives, just as he has experienced first-hand.

“My giving feels meaningful a good “after life” gift. I know that the funds are going to help many people. Essentia Health has helped me, and I am glad to be able to give back to a genuinely worthy cause,” Ken shares. “It’s important for a community to have ‘good medicine’ in place. It makes a city attractive to others when people know there is a quality hospital in town and excellent medical teams who serve its people.”

Ken also says that support services such as the Cardiac Rehabilitation program offer true value to patients, both mentally and physically. “I have developed a set of friends through my cardiac rehab program even though many are younger than me,” Ken explains. “This has been very good for me, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are genuinely interested and concerned about one another; we communicate outside of our cardiac rehab, and we welcome newcomers to the group often.”

The program, Ken says, provides somewhere to go, somewhat like a ‘therapy session’ where people connect and feel supported. He continues his giving plan in order to ensure that programs such as this are not just here right now but also for many years to come.

To make a gift or discuss how to leave your own legacy to the Essentia Health Foundation, please contact Robin Pestalozzi, Director of Development, at Robin.Pestalozzi@EssentiaHealth.org or (218) 786-5111.

How to Make an Online Donation

Visit our Give a Gift page and select from our list of Essentia Health campaigns and local foundations.

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