Ameristar makes record donation

Published: April 6, 2010  |  Source: suburbanjournals.stltoday.com
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Money helps VA Medical Center buy equipment

Ameristar’s workplace giving campaign presented a $236,000 donation to the VA Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Service, the largest donation ever received by the St. Louis VA SCI Service.

Ameristar team members presented a check to the VA on March 24 at the VA’s Jefferson Barracks location. The gift includes contributions from Ameristar St. Charles workers, the company and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Some of the donated funds have purchased new state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment, including:

– motorized parallel bars and a motomed leg cycle to re-establish leg function and gait training

– pressure mapping system, which protects skin integrity while seated

– wheel flex system, which allows a person with limited mobility to continue arm-strengthening exercises and

– Physiotool, teaching software that encourages veterans to engage in home exercise.

Lt. Col. Helen Horne suffered a life-changing injury while serving in the Air Force during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The new equipment is enabling her to become more independent and potentially resume walking – one of her biggest goals.

“The impact of this gift cannot be overestimated. Through the purchase of additional state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment, it has already provided our veterans tremendous additional opportunities to develop the skills to make a successful return to independent life after a catastrophic illness,” said Dr. Florian Thomas, director of the St. Louis VA SCI Service and a professor of neurology at Saint Louis University. “On behalf of the veterans that we serve, we are deeply grateful to the employees of Ameristar, the company and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for their generosity.”

Another portion of the donation will provide transportation funds for veterans who travel to the SCI Service. Veterans from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee and Arkansas use the Access-To-Care Program to travel to the VA for extensive physical therapy services and treatment.

“It is an honor to help those who have done so much for our country,” said Ameristar Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Franke. “I am especially proud of our team members whose donations to our Ameristar Cares campaign will make such a positive impact in the lives of our regional veterans living with spinal cord injuries.”

The Ameristar Cares workplace giving campaign features five area partners and funds, including a spinal cord injury rehabilitation organization. Ameristar team members choose where their dollars go and all donations receive a matching fund from the company. The VA is the St. Charles property’s SCI partner and receives an additional dollar-for-dollar match from the foundation of the company founder, Craig H. Neilsen.

The mission of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is to find a cure for spinal cord injuries by supporting cutting-edge research, clinical trials and innovative rehabilitation services for those living with spinal cord injuries in the United States.

The 2009 Ameristar Cares workplace giving campaign raised more than $300,000 for area nonprofits and funds. Since 2004, the annual St. Charles campaign has generated more than $2.5 million in team member pledges and company matches. Campaign participation averages more than 60 percent of the property workforce.