Craig holds ceremonial groundbreaking

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.A major boost to Craig Hospital’s project to raise funds for the $90 million renovation and expansion project was unveiled at May 23 groundbreaking ceremonies with the announcement that Craig alumni Dave and Gail Liniger, founders of RE/MAX International, had made a $10 million donation to the project.

“Craig is absolutely wonderful and it has a special place in our hearts,” Gail Liniger said. “The people here taught Dave and me to walk again when others told us we would never walk again. The Craig staff worked with me in 1984 and with Dave in 2012. When I was here, they taught me how to function without one of my hands and to get along despite my vision being impaired. We made this donation because we wanted to do what we could so Craig could help many other people the way they helped Dave and I.”

The announcement was made as part of the May 23 official groundbreaking ceremony. Although work has been underway for since February, new walls are being constructed and construction sounds provided the background as several hundred Craig employees, local government officials and Craig supporters attended the event.

Blue and white balloons lined the area and there were speeches by hospital and community officials before special guests lined up and turned dirt with bright, shiny shovels.

Mike Fordyce, Craig president, told the crowd about the construction project. The project will add 85,000 square feet to the hospital, plus will do major renovations to 135,000 square feet of existing space. He explained the expansion will only add three beds to the hospital but will make it possible for every patient to have a private room.

“The total cost of the project is $90 million,” he said. “We are using reserves and bond sales to provide $40 million and we have a project underway to raise the remaining $50 million. I am happy to say 88 percent of Craig staff has contributed to the fundraiser.”

Mary Sissel of the Craig Hospital Foundation told the audience $32 million of the remaining $50 million has been raised. That total includes the Liniger donation, plus the Anschutz Foundation has made a $5 million grant to the project, with $2 million of that amount as a challenge grant. The effort now is to raise the remaining $18 million.

Speakers included a representative of the governor’s office; Cherry Hills Village Mayor Doug Tisdale, who mentioned he is the father of a son who was a Craig patient in 1991; and Englewood Mayor Randy Penn, who said God made masterpieces and Craig repaired them.

Then it was time for the ceremonial groundbreaking. Each guest had a hard hat and a shovel and turned a little of the dirt in a box at the front of the stage.

Craig patient Angie Laakson was one of those turning dirt.

“I have only been here about 2½ months and I think it is cool they asked me to be a part of this ceremony,” she said. “The people at Craig are taking very good care of me. I notice more than most, I guess, because I am a therapist too. Now I am seeing therapy from the other side and what I see here at Craig is great.”

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