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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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June 1, 2020

5/22/2020 7:24:00 AM
Women's Legacy Foundation: Millions raised for tick-borne illness center through philanthropy
Abigail Bostwick
of The Lakeland Times

The establishment of the Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence in Woodruff was a community effort - with one group forging a powerful road to meet the $3.5 million fundraising goal: The Women's Legacy Council.

"We want to thank the Women's Legacy Council for their hard work in making our $3.5 million goal to open the center a reality in less than two years," observed Elizabeth Gehring, Howard Young Foundation (HYF) Donor Relations and Communications. "We have just $300,000 left to raise to meet our goal, thanks to them. We would love to mention them by name and also thank the community for their generosity. Of course it would include some of the successes of the center, especially its reach and importance for our community."

About the Women's Legacy Council

Formed in May 2012, the Women's Legacy Council (WLC) is a committee of the Howard Young Foundation (HYF).

WLC promotes quality health care in the Northwoods through values, vision and voice, officials noted.

WLC educates, engages and empowers women to join together in supporting Howard Young Medical Center and its efforts to improve health care for the Northwoods residents and visitors - now and for future generations.

The WLC consists of 15 volunteer women and one emeritus member. The council reports to the Howard Young Foundation Board of Directors.

Members select and fund a Howard Young Medical Center "priority project, program or service that will have a sustained impact on improving the health care of Northwoods residents, visitors and vacationers," according to their mission.

Other responsibilities include advocacy, education and philanthropic focuses, all which understand and support the mission and vision of Howard Young Health Care and Howard Young Foundation and serving as informed ambassadors in social, business and community settings. They also give strategic educational programs that provide women's values, vision and voice to advance and solve rural healthcare issues in northern Wisconsin.

Further, council members provide leadership and cultivate and engage prospective donors.

Selecting Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence

WLC had been looking for their next project after successfully completing two major efforts the Cardiac Center of Excellence and the 3D Mammography suite both located at the Howard Young Medical Center, HYF president Erin Biertzer noted.

"I had the pleasure of sharing the Howard Young Foundation's next 'big idea' to advance health care by building a center for research and treatment of tick-borne illnesses right here in the Northwoods," Biertzer said. "It was an idea that they were passionate about immediately, especially because we all knew someone affected by this insidious disease. Even though the goal of raising $3.5M was 10 times the size of their biggest campaign, I knew they could do it."

Through their collective philanthropic efforts that started two short years ago, with "power, passion, and philanthropy," Biertzer added.

WLF began public and private fundraising events at a variety of venues around the Lakeland area. The foundation also hosted numerous awareness events and research blood draws.

"I am humbled and amazed to report that we have reached over 90 percent of our $3.5 million goal, raising $3.2 million, and every dollar raised is matched by Open Medicine Institute doubling the value of this investment in our community," Biertzer said.

Fundraising success

The first Tick-Borne Illness Center of Excellence in the Midwest region is now open, treating patients, and conducting research, Biertzer said.

"I am proud of what our Women's Legacy Council have collectively achieved and will continue to do to in 2020 to reach the finish line," she said. "With a project you are passionate about, all things are possible. What an incredible legacy they are leaving, for our patients, for our medical field, for our community, for our families, and for advancing health care. With their power, passion, and philanthropy, they are truly the most incredible group of Women philanthropists our community has ever seen."

The HYF is committed to advancing the health and wellness of all people in the communities we serve through charitable support, Biertzer said.

To find out more, or to help the campaign, visit

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