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A Gift With Heart

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A Gift With Heart

The Sapper family creates endowment to honor Providence Holy Cross caregivers

May 1, 1984, was a life-changing day for the Sapper family.

It was the day Michele Sapper, then a junior in college, was on her way back to her dorm  at Cal State Northridge when she was hit head-on by a one-ton pickup truck. The drunk driver never put on his brakes.

It was also the day that Providence Holy Cross Medical Center opened as a trauma center.

Michele would become the hospital’s first successful trauma patient. But her road to recovery from the horrific accident was far from easy.

After being revived through CPR, Michele remained in a coma for eight weeks. Her long list of injuries included a severe traumatic brain injury that would involve extensive rehabilitation as she gradually learned to walk and to talk again.

Throughout her extended recovery at Holy Cross, Michele’s parents, Bobbie and Al Sapper, never left her side. The couple parked their motorhome outside the hospital to remain near their daughter throughout the grueling process.

But, as Bobbie recalls, the family never felt alone. The staff of Providence Holy Cross helped them connect the motorhome to power, and ensured they had everything they needed to be as comfortable as possible. “They were very accommodating,” she says.

In particular, the nurses provided Michele with exceptional care and ensured her parents’ well-being throughout the family’s stay at Providence Holy Cross.

At the time, Al would thank the nursing staff by bringing them See’s Candies. And since then, the family has discovered another way to extend their thanks to the nurses who cared and advocated for Michele: Together, they were inspired to create the Have a Heart Endowment to honor Providence Holy Cross Medical Center caregivers in a way that will appreciate over time.

“Holy Cross is a very special place for us,” says Bobbie. “And we are very thankful that that’s where they took her.”

Today, thanks to her fierce determination and the care she received at Holy Cross, Michele is able to walk, talk, drive and live independently. She has cultivated a thriving career as a sought-after public speaker for her personal perspective on the dangers of drinking and driving.

Michele also works with the police department as a specialist reserve officer, helping to train law enforcement officers in the impaired driver apprehension program.

“It’s a miracle,” says Michele. “I was definitely kept here for a reason.”

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Address: 15031 Rinaldi St., Mission Hills, CA 91345
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