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Offer All You Can

With four open-heart surgeries under her belt, Julie Stucki, an exercise specialist, feels a connection with her patients in Cardiac Rehabilitation. Her compassion was apparent last Thanksgiving when she invited a patient to spend the holiday with her family after he confessed he had no nearby relatives and no plans.

The patient was a blind man who was undergoing cardiac rehab for coronary artery disease. One morning, when he was walking on the treadmill, Julie asked him what he was doing for Thanksgiving. She was excited about the holiday – her family was large and very close-knit, and they always spent the day playing cards, eating, and watching movies. But the patient’s family lived in Indianapolis, and he admitted that he planned to stay home alone.

Immediately, Julie offered to bring him home with her for the holiday. “I’ll let you know,” he told her and later said, “I think I’ll take you up on that.” So on Thanksgiving Day, Julie and her husband drove to the patient’s home and picked up him and his seeing-eye dog. The 30 guests waiting at Julie’s parents’ house welcomed him in, and he let his dog off the leash so the young children could play with it. He also took to Julie’s year-old niece, holding her on his lap, telling everyone how he rarely gets to visit his own grandchildren.

After a fun day with Julie’s family – the patient even joined in the card games by bringing his own deck of Braille cards – her family sent him home with a basket of food and slices of pie. He couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful holiday it had been.

“He didn’t want to go home,” Julie says. “I think it was really special to him because he would have sat at home on Thanksgiving and done nothing.”