Betty Ford, an extraordinary giver |

Betty Ford, an extraordinary giver

Special to the DailyBetty Ford at her desk

Throughout her life, Betty Ford has been an extraordinary giver to her family, her communities and the people of the United States. Certainly, she has touched many of us in the Vail Valley in a deep and personal way.

To honor that lifetime of extraordinary giving, members of the Board of Directors of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail asked Mrs. Ford if they could organize a tribute in her honor. Being the kind of person she is, Mrs. Ford at first demurred, as she didn’t want any special attention brought to her. When hearing, however, her Betty Ford Alpine Gardens was in need of an Endowment Fund infusion and operating cash to sustain itself, Mrs. Ford quickly agreed. Regarding the Endowment Fund, her comment was, “That’s something we should have done years ago.”

The Board’s first approach was to plan a star-studded tribute with other former First Ladies and various Hollywood and media celebrities in attendance. A similar event was successfully held in Indian Wells, California in 2003. However, Mrs. Ford expressed her wish we not “bother” those important people. She wanted to keep the focus of this event on the Vail Valley and on the Gardens.

Consequently, an unprecedented series of honors and special mementos were created by a group of Vail Valley volunteers and admirers of Mrs. Ford. These actions culminated in a Tribute to Betty

Ford set for the evening of August 7, in Vail’s Ford Park.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

A major part of the tribute is this special book, “Betty Ford – Vail Valley’s First Lady,” written by local authors Elizabeth Eber and Jane Imber and edited by Don Berger. The book is based on dozens of interviews over the past several months with people in the Vail Valley who know Betty Ford and who can testify first hand to the wonderful and inspirational woman she is. The names of those interviewed as well as the scores of others who have helped to make this Tribute a reality are listed in the Acknowledgments section of this book.

When I began to organize this Tribute to Betty Ford for the Alpine Gardens, I must confess that I did not know much about her detailed history. The process of organizing this Tribute (with remarkable help from my co-chairs Karin Weber and Barbara Treat, and the Tribute Steering Committee) has led me to understand what a truly remarkable person Betty Ford is. She is an example of courage, graciousness, honesty, humility, humor and statesmanship for all of us to admire. The world is a much better place since Betty Ford was thrust into becoming the First Lady of our country. The Vail Valley is a much better place for Betty Ford becoming our own First Lady.

June Vanourek

President Board of Directors,

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

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