Vail woman’s memory makes a difference
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” A Vail woman’s passion for helping children is lasting beyond her death ” through a children’s hospital that funds from her memorial helped built.
Friends and family of 27-year-old Becky Yarberry gathered in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in March to attend the opening of a children’s orthopedic surgery hospital, the only facility of its kind in Central America.
A 30-bed wing of the hospital was dedicated to Yarberry, who died in a car accident on Interstate 70 near Dowd Junction in September 2007.
The hospital was built by CURE International, a Christian organization that helps disabled children in developing countries. Becky Yarberry, who was a medical assistant at Colorado Mountain College, had gone on several medical trips with the organization, and returned transformed, said her stepmother, Valinda Yarberry.
“She was really enthusiastic about her trips down there,” she said. “It was a real growing experience for her, medically and personally. She loved working with the kids and she came back with a passion for medicine that was stronger than ever.”
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Some of the proceeds for the hospital came from Becky Yarberry’s memorial fund and many local donors.
Donations included $10,000 raised by the hospital staff, proceeds from a triathlon held in her memory, contributions from local churches and a matching donation from an anonymous donor.
“What could be more perfect coming from Vail?” said Kent Petrie, a physician who took Becky Yarberry on the missions trips. “It makes such a different to these kids who have birth defects and are outcasts. It literally saves their lives.”
The hospital opened in January, and has since treated more than 1,200 patients and its doctors have performed 90 orthopedic surgeries. Many of the children treated at the hospital have debilitating conditions that might prevent them from ever walking, being able to work, or functioning in society, said Dr. Steve Yarberry, Becky Yarberry’s father.
He remembered seeing a small boy being wheeled out on a state-of-the-art gurney as they arrived at the hospital. He had completed surgery and was being transferred by his family into the bed of a small pickup truck.
“There was just such poverty,” he said. “People were just so excited to have this down there, to have this modern, clean facility.”
The hospital facilities include surgical facilities, Becky’s wing, a chapel and X-ray facilities.
“It was really exciting (to see it),” said Steve Yarberry. ” What a big effort that the money we were able to gather from Becky’s horrible accident can create this building that will help so many kids. For 27 years old, she left quite a mark.”
Becky Yarberry loved caring for and treating children and planned to attend graduate school to become a physician’s assistant, her father said.
David Wieder, a friend who attended the hospital dedication, said that Becky Yarberry persuaded him to come with her on her second medical trip to Honduras.
“She got excited about the kids and about changing someone’s life outside her own,” he said. “She really loved helping children. She had a complete maternal instinct for everyone ” both children and her friends.”
Petrie said the children’s hospital is a fitting way to remember her because she was such a “kid magnet.”
“The first summer we went, I named her rookie of the year because she worked tirelessly and had such a good spirit,” he said. “She was always a hard worker and so much enjoyed playing with the children. She really loved every aspect and couldn’t wait to go back.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.