Paying tribute and looking to the future

November 29, 2013

Editor’s note: Parker Vandergriff, a member of Richards Partners’ Cause Team, shares his personal connection to a recent Parkland Foundation project that honored the memory of President John F. Kennedy.

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination reminded us all that, on November 22, 1963, the fallen President was rushed to Parkland Hospital. More than a dozen dedicated doctors and nurses worked to save the President’s life after he was shot while traveling in a motorcade through downtown Dallas. After 22 minutes in Trauma Room 1, President Kennedy was pronounced dead. 

Since 1963, much has changed in our country and in our community. But, one constant has been Parkland Hospital, which treats more than 1 million patients every year. As the safety-net hospital for Dallas County, Parkland is a vital health resource in the community. 

To ensure Parkland’s continued success, our client The Parkland Foundation has dedicated itself to securing financial resources that advance the clinical, educational and research efforts of Parkland Hospital. In 2008, the Foundation launched the I Stand for Parkland capital campaign to support construction of Parkland Hospital’s new 2.5-million-square-foot state-of-the-art campus.

This past October, as a “thank you” to donors and supporters who have contributed to Parkland’s $1.2 billion expansion, Parkland Foundation hosted a special Dallas premiere of the recently released, Tom Hanks-produced movie Parkland. The premiere at the Highland Park Village Theater featured director Peter Landesman as he shared his quest to bring Parkland’s story to life.

The film’s star-studded cast – Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton, among others – helps tell the story of a fateful day from often forgotten perspectives – the everyday people that found themselves in the middle of a worldwide tragedy. As many critics have noted, Parkland carries neither an agenda nor a preconceived ideology; it simply tells a story, as it happened. 

For donors and supporters, the film provides a stark reminder not only of how far Parkland has come but what Parkland continues to stand for: professionalism, care, service and sacrifice.

I am a fourth-generation Texan and one who deeply cares about the success of our community. Much of that desire stems from the efforts of my grandfather, Tom Vandergriff, who spent 50 years of his life as a public servant trying to make our community better. Coincidentally, he also served on the Welcoming Committee for President Kennedy’s trip to Dallas and Fort Worth. I could not help but think that he, and the hundreds of others who worked their entire lives to advance this region, would be proud of the work of Parkland Hospital today. 

The events of 1963 were long before my time, but the stories of the doctors, nurses, reporters and bystanders tell of incredible courage and faith in our community. These stories should be remembered and shared for generations to come. I Stand for Parkland is not just a slogan or campaign. It is a symbol of courage and service rooted in the national conscience.

I Stand for Parkland represents all that we aspire and hope to be.