From Rural House Calls to Precision Medicine: A Legacy of Community Support

Giving back was something Pam Burnelis, a volunteer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, learned at an early age. Growing up in rural western Nebraska, she spent many weekends traveling single lane highways and gravel roads with her father, who was a doctor. They would pile up in the family car and make house calls to check on his patients to make sure they were doing ok.

My dad didn’t have to drive out to meet with these people. He did it because he cared about his patients and their families. It was the right thing to do,” said Pam. “Many couldn’t afford to pay, so he often provided the care for free. Sometimes they would barter for farm eggs or offer a service in return—mowing grass or something like that.

When Pam was in the 4th grade, she got her first job delivering newspapers, and her mother expected her to set aside 10% of her earnings to give to local charities. Pam decided where the money would go, but it was expected that she would give back to the community. 

These formative experiences intersected early in Pam’s career. Working for healthcare delivery systems as an administrator, she saw the importance of community support in driving innovation and ensuring access. 

A Different Healthcare Experience

Pam was introduced to Children’s Colorado when a family member was in an accident. Having been around healthcare her entire life, she quickly realized after walking into Children’s Colorado that it was a very different experience than what she had observed at other hospitals.  

This experience, and wanting to continue giving back to her community, inspired Pam to begin volunteering at Children’s Colorado, Colorado Springs in 2019. And when she created her will, it was an easy decision to add Children’s Colorado as a beneficiary of her estate and communicate her planned gift intentions to the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation.

Looking back – even now – I am aware of my privilege,” said Pam. “It’s not about me anymore. It’s about the kids as our future. I chose to leave Children’s in my will because I’ve seen how it’s different, both as a volunteer and through my personal experience.

Planning for the Future of Medicine

After reviewing a few options, Pam designated her bequest to support Precision Medicine, a growing field that is leveraging new genomic technologies to make significant advancements in pediatric care, especially in the treatment of childhood cancer and rare diseases. 

I am fortunate to be able to give back. I hope my planned gift continues to grow and inspires others to give. Precision Medicine is the future of healthcare. It has the potential to truly impact the lives of kids and change the face of medicine in Colorado and the world. Children’s Colorado is ready to lead this work and I’m grateful I can make a difference.

Lena and Vina are patient ambassadors who have been treated in Precision Medicine. They live in Colorado Springs with their mom, dad and brother.
Supporting Precision Medicine

From the moment sisters Lena and Vina were born both girls had uncontrollable, life-threatening seizures. After nearly a decade of searching for answers to their debilitating neurological condition, the girls’ parents ended up at the Children’s Hospital Colorado. Here, the Precision Medicine Institute found answers and helped the sisters make significant strides in their treatment.