Transformative gift funds cardiac rehab center

Claiborne and Jo Ann BickhamThe comradery is contagious. When you walk through the lobby of the Cardiac and Vascular Center at University of Colorado Hospital, you sense friendship — lifelong connections forged during uncertain circumstances. "These people were all part of Clay's class," Jo Ann Bickham says as she catches up with friends. The close-knit group came together during treatment, started a number of years ago at the same time as Jo Ann's late husband, Clay. Nearly everyone in the waiting room has received a life-altering diagnosis, but every patient is there because they are hopeful. "They don't have to give up," says Jo Ann. "They realize that even just walking on a treadmill helps, and life goes on."

Jo Ann and Clay always knew they wanted to give back and included a revocable, deferred planned gift to the University of Colorado Anschutz in their estate plan. As they dealt with Clay's deteriorating health, they realized they wanted to make an impact on other patients as soon as possible. Upon Clay's passing, their generosity funded the Claiborne and Jo Ann Bickham Cardiac Rehabilitation Education Center.

"We are just so proud and humbled to be able to do this. Neither of us could have ever thought this would be possible. It's quite an honor to give back," said Clay and Jo Ann Bickham.

This new center will enable more patients with conditions such as valve defects, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias and heart failure to benefit from surgical and non-surgical treatment at the Cardiac and Vascular Center. It will also house educational programs for patients and families, teaching them how to modify nutrition and living habits to help improve quality of life.

Jennifer Holder, MS, CCEP, CCRP, cardiac rehabilitation supervisor, said "The social aspect of cardiac rehabilitation is a large part of the program, and extremely important to our patients and their families." The Bickham Cardiac Rehabilitation Education Center will provide additional space for these social interactions, and friendships like the ones Jo Ann enjoys. She can attest that growing a support network through chance encounters at the hospital is crucial to healing. The Bickham's are happy to give back to the people who they knew well and the countless individuals and families who will walk through the center doors in the future.