Health First Foundation Puts ‘We’ in Wellness During Celebration of Giving Night at King Center

By  //  November 21, 2022


HEALTH FIRST PRESIDENT AND CEO STEVE JOHNSON, at right, is joined by Vendetta Jackson of the Foundation Legacy Society, Cathy Johnson, and Foundation Trustee Polly Molnar. (Health First image)

Trauma HAL, GI Genius and Guardian Angel Fund headline the Celebration of Giving event, spotlights the generosity of a community that has invested $9 million since the last event.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Before October 27, the last time the Health First Foundation held its Celebration of Giving gala was in February 2020. Some big things have happened since then, but one thing hasn’t changed – our community’s generosity.

The latest event at the King Center in Melbourne celebrated that spirit of giving. In the time between Celebration of Giving nights, the health system raised more than $9 million in support of our community’s health and wellness. These funds have been put toward a variety of programs, including new technology and charitable care.

“Our community is healing well and living well because of your generosity,” Foundation President Michael Seeley told the audience.

The short program featured remarks from Health First President and CEO Steve Johnson, Chief Experience Officer Paula Just and Seeley. A video highlighting some of the achievements made with community support was the centerpiece of the night’s presentation.

Trauma HAL, a trauma patient “dummy” that bleeds, breathes, blinks, swells and shakes. He is programmable for almost any trauma scenario. He has already been part of mass-casualty drills involving police and fire first responders.

GI Genius, artificial intelligence technology that follows along during a colonoscopy, highlighting for the physician polyps and lesions.

“We’re the first facility in Brevard County to have this technology,” says Health First Gastroenterologist Ian Steele, MD.

FOUNDATION TRUSTEE RITA MORENO, at left, with Carol Ann and Michael Gaich of the Foundation’s Legacy Society, and Dr. Ruben Moreno. (Health First image)

Health First’s Aging Services recently was the beneficiary of a record “round” of fundraising at the Health First Golf Classic. Aging Services runs the Geriatric Wellness Clinic, the Memory Disorder Clinic and the Center for Family Caregivers.

Bright Star is Health First’s grief support services for children that includes counseling and camp.

The Child Life Specialists at Health First’s Pediatric Emergency Department help ease little patients of their worries, help them understand what’s being done for their well-being, and, whenever possible, make their stay fun.

The Nursing Scholarships awarded this year topped $100,000. These are for current Health First associates who wish to become Registered Nurses or achieve bachelor’s or advanced degrees in nursing.

Guardian Angels is a new charitable care program that has helped patients make ends meet so that getting life-saving care doesn’t mean sacrificing necessities. “Thank you,” said one, Lucy. “You don’t even know me, but you’ve basically saved my life.”

Invited guests included Good Samaritan Society donors (gifts of $1,000 or more in either of the last two years), the Heritage Club (lifetime gifts in excess of $100,000), Legacy Society Donors (planned gifts), Young Professionals Group members, Planned Giving Advisory Council members and Corporate Partners.

FOUNDATION TRUSTEE SHELLY COOPER and her husband Eric arrive at the Celebration of Giving on October 27 at the King Center. (Health First image)

Paula Just, Health First’s Chief Experience Officer, shared with the crowd the large artwork created by internationally renowned Melbourne mural artist Derek Gores. The piece “The Many Layers of Heroism” is composed of images and handwritten notes of Health First associates demonstrating or explaining what it means to help one another.

“You are an important partner and layer in advancing the care that we give,” she said, gesturing toward the artwork.

Before the program, guests arrived and walked a red carpet to have their pictures taken. They were treated to cocktails and served hors d’oeuvres by silver tray as saxophone soloist Carl Lewis played.

Afterward, guests enjoyed an oyster bar and ceviche, along with coffee and desserts. Each left with a 12-by-8-inch aluminum print of the artist Derek Gores’ “The Many Layers of Heroism,” a mural that depicts Health First clinicians in personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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HEALTH FIRST CHIEF NURSING OFFICER CHEYANA FISCHER, at left, with Chief Experience Officer Paula Just and System Director of Hospitalists Kim Cribb. (Health First image)
RETIRED HEALTH FIRST DERMATOLOGIST Larry Bishop, MD, and his wife, Cindy. (Health First image)

“I’m moved by the strength of our roots in this community,” Seeley told the audience. “We are incredibly proud to call Brevard County home and to live and work here alongside all of you.”

Health First and its associates don’t do it alone. Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit healthcare system. Donations and gifts from our community contribute to technology, programs and clinicians that raise the level of care for all.

To be a part of the next Celebration of Giving or to join any of the groups today, visit, email or call 321.434.7353.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS GROUP MEMBER TRAVIS LORENZEN, at left, with Brett Strassel, Megan Looby, also of the Young Professionals Group, and Andrea Thill, the Foundation’s Annual Giving Specialist. (Health First image)
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