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Aurora Health Foundation announces 2004 Distinguished Service Award recipients

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

FOND DU LAC, Wis., The Aurora Health Foundation honored Fond du Lac physician John Lent, MD, and his wife Barbara, as recipients of the foundation’s 2004 Distinguished Service Award. This award is annually presently to one individual or couple who exemplify outstanding service to the community or to the Aurora Health Foundation. The Lents were recognized at the Infinity Club Gala on October 5, the foundation’s annual donor recognition event where the foundation publicly thanks those who support its mission of service.

According to Ann Marie Ross, Aurora Health Foundation board member and nominator of the Lents, ``There are many ways that John and Barbara Lent have positively impacted the lives of others, by improving the health and wellness of the Fond du Lac community and beyond. For example, John and Barbara were recently in Rosita, Nicaragua on a health mission. They are both founders of United Hearts for Health. This is a health partnership that links the city of Fond du Lac with the poor community of Rosita.

``As a couple, they have worked tirelessly to raise money, have medical supplies donated and recruited additional volunteers to travel with them to Nicaragua to provide health services to the poor,`` said Ross. ``“They have made several trips to Rosita where the living and working conditions are difficult. Caring for the sick is something that Barbara and John seem to do naturally. John is a well-respected cardiologist and Barbara is a former nurse.``

Dr. Lent serves as a cardiovascular disease and internal medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Fond du Lac. He is also one of the founders of Fond du Lac’s Samaritan Free Health Clinic where he serves as a regular volunteer. His humanitarian vision to offer medical services to the poor and uninsured has turned into a successful program that treats many more patients than he ever imagined.

Because of his belief in the power of education, Dr. Lent also started a group called CEO – Community Education Opportunity. This group provides scholarships for minority or underserved youth in the Fond du Lac area so they may attend private schools. This year alone, the organization provided 19 scholarships to deserving students.

Barbara Lent has been an outstanding community volunteer for many years in her own right. She’s been active with the Salvation Army and the ``Loaves and Fishes``” program and serves on the Salvation Army’s executive board and assists with events and fundraisers. At the Loaves and Fishes program she volunteers as the meal coordinator and donates many hours of her time helping out behind the scenes.

Barbara is also an active member of the HOPE network. This is a group of Fond du Lac women who look at issues of women living in poverty. Barbara helped develop a mentoring program for these women and was involved with starting a fund to help support them financially.

As chair of the Clean Indoor Air Committee in Fond du Lac several years ago, Barbara helped convince community and city council members to pass a smoke-free restaurant ordinance to protect the public’s health. She continues to help the committee’s executive board find new ways to keep tobacco products from our youth, improving public health policy and supporting smoke free businesses in the Fond du Lac area.

In addition to health-related initiatives, the other area of volunteerism that John and Barbara have made a positive impact is in promoting diversity. John was one of the first promoters who brought Peace Fest to the community and he continues to participate in various committees to encourage a greater awareness of different cultures. Barbara helped coordinate this year’s Martin Luther King Diversity Celebration held at Marian College.

Tre Waldren, Executive Director of the Aurora Health Foundation, added, ``It’s clear the Lents have made a huge impact on the health and wellness of their fellow citizens in many ways. They are most deserving of the 2004 Aurora Health Foundation Distinguished Service Award and we are proud to present them with this public recognition.``

The Aurora Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Aurora Health Care in northeastern Wisconsin. The foundation fulfilled 117 grant requests in 2003 totaling more than $320,000 to help improve the health of the communities it serves. Aurora is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services in 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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