Rick and Jeanene Stephens understand the importance of having a vision. For Rick, that vision unfolded in 1985, when he and his colleagues transformed Horizon Hobby from a small, basement start-up to a global hobby manufacturer and distributor. Since then, he and his wife Jeanene have been tireless advocates for a long list of great causes, whether it's providing housing for orphans in Haiti or helping families with special needs here at home. In 2010, their lead gift helped create the Stephens Family YMCA, a unique recreational center designed for people of all abilities.
That passion to help comes from their faith. "We feel called to help the sick, the weak, the poor — those who are in need," explains Rick. "And we certainly feel like Vision 2020 and the new college of medicine are going to do just that," says Rick.
The Stephens have a long relationship with Carle. Rick has served on the hospital board, and they've both been actively involved with the Carle Center for Philanthropy, which means they've seen first-hand what can happen when a committed hospital and a caring community come together. For Jeanene, the Mills Breast Cancer Institute is a shining example. "Linda Mills was a good friend and role model," she explains. "I knew what her vision was for that because she was battling cancer at the same time our son-in-law was, so we talked a lot about how there was a need for more care in cancer treatment. Carle has really risen to her expectations — and it's amazing!"
Today, they see that same bold vision unfolding in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. "One of the real reasons we're interested in co-chairing this campaign is because it's not an ordinary campaign," Rick explains. "The college of medicine makes this different because it's something that has the potential to really change the culture of this community. All of the things that will come out of that will weave its way throughout the halls of Carle, and it will have an impact — on cardiology, on neurology, on cancer research. It will have an impact on every department."
While the new college is impressive, it's only part of a $35-million campaign designed to deliver transformative care. "It's critical that we think not only about the wonderful healthcare that people are going to get, but also that whole experience they have when they have an illness," explains Rick. "It's really important for Carle to expand those amenities." And in a time of rising costs and shrinking budgets, that means one thing. "If we really want Carle to be special and we want the community to reap the benefits, then it's going to require philanthropy."
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