More than 400 Colorado-area Craig graduates and their families came back to Craig on September 13 to reunite with other grads, Craig family members and staff. They ate a delicious lunch provided by Craig Hospital, played games in the Family Fun Zone, and shared resources and stories. The event was hosted by the Craig Hospital Foundation's Community Engagement Team.
The Community Engagement Team (CET) creates and deepens meaningful connections between Craig Hospital and our patient and family members; develops opportunities to raise awareness about the mission of the Craig Hospital Foundation both internally and externally; and strengthens the culture of philanthropy among the Craig Hospital Family and the wider community.
At the event, the first Craig Hospital Foundation Bill Johnson McKown Community Engagement Award was awarded posthumously to Bill McKown. This award will be given annually to recognize a Craig Hospital graduate who has been especially engaged in the Craig Family or similar communities. The award recognizes volunteerism, peer to peer interactions, and commitment to the disability community.
A native of Great Bend, Kansas, McKown lived with quadriplegia for 38 years. He passed away on March 19, 2014. He spent six months at Craig Hospital in 1975 following a car accident that caused a C4 spinal fracture.
McKown was a champion for handicap awareness. Shortly after his accident, Kansas Senator Bob Dole got him appointed to Jimmy Carter’s President’s Commission for the Handicapped, which laid much of the groundwork for what later became the Americans with Disabilities Act. McKown was active in many community organizations. He served as President of the Great Bend Jaycees and separately President of the local Kiwanis; both groups wound up naming Bill as State Jaycee of the Year and State Kiwanis member of the Year. McKown was an active Boy Scout throughout his life, and served as Scoutmaster, Camp Director and served on numerous local and national committees, including being one of the longest serving members of the highly prestigious Philmont Ranch Committee. He was awarded the Silver Buffalo award which is the highest award an adult can receive in scouting.
McKown was also a good friend to many fellow Craig grads, keeping in touch, offering assistance, advocacy, encouragement and serving as a sounding board. According to Kathy Hulse, his outpatient clinical care manger, he was an example of how individuals with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries can live full and meaningful lives.