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15th Annual Fall Ball

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Cozad Hospital Foundation started in 1981 and has been a great asset to this community. The Foundation has helped shape our healthcare in Cozad to what it is today. Their contributions have included the Cozad Community Wellness Center, Meadowlark Pointe, Central Plains Home Health and Hospice, Areawide Lifeline, Cozad Community Physical Therapy, Cozad Community Medical Clinic, Cozad Child Care, Cozad Community Schools, and Student Loan Repayment. A project in the spotlight is Meadowlark Pointe expansion. To date the Foundation has donated two million dollars toward the expansion at Meadowlark Pointe.

The Fall Ball started in 2003 with three objectives in mind:

  1. What the Foundation has done and is doing
  2. Recognize individuals for their dedication, committment and loyalty
  3. Bring people to our community to give a message, to tell their story

This year was the 15th consecutive year of the Fall Ball, and 189 people filled the Elks Club Ballroom for a great cause. 

2018 Healthcare Hall of Fame Inductees

Peg Butler: 62nd Inductee into the Healthcare Hall of Fame 

Peg Butler

Peg Butler was born on March 21, 1954 to O.N. and Janet Beck at the Cozad Community Hospital (which was almost two years old).  She grew up on the farm North of Cozad and attended rural District 28 from K - 7th grade, and graduated from Cozad High School in 1972.

Peg said, "I was a true farmer's daughter".  She worked with pigs and cattle, giving vaccinations and driving the tractor and truck for her dad.

Peg attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for one year and then graduated from the Lincoln General Hospital School of Nursing in 1975.  She worked at Lincoln General Hospital (now Bryan Health) in the ante-partum department.  Her first love in nursing was working in labor and delivery with new mothers.

Peg and Don were married in August 19, 1973 and moved to Cozad in October, 1975 to farm.  They are the proud parents of two daughters, Brianne (Clint) Snider and Morgan (Korey) Flesner, and six grandchildren, that are "the light of our lives", Ashtyn, twins Bryson and Braiton, Neeley, Hannah and Brandt.  Peg is proud to have her daughters in healthcare, Brianne is the Administrator at Meadowlark Pointe in Cozad and Morgan is a Registered Nurse working at Bryan Health in Lincoln.

She worked as a staff nurse at Cozad Community Hospital for nearly 2 years, then she substituted at Cozad Medical Clinic for Dr. Worthman and Dr. Sitorius (the Dr. who delivered her in 1954). In August of 1977, Peg was offered the school nurse position for Cozad Schools, and it has become her dream job.  This year is her 42nd year of being School Nurse for Cozad Schools.

Peg is involved in her community.  She is a member of the Cozad United Methodist Church (Bell Choir, Bible School, Sunday School and Youth Leader), PEO, Chairman of the Farm Service Agency Dawson County Committee, and 4-H leader.  Outside of family, farming and nursing, quilting is an important part of Peg's life, occasionally working at Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop and sewing small quilts for customers to view. Peg is a charter member (1980) and past president of the Central Nebraska School Nurse Association, finalist for Annual School Nurse of the Year 2016, member of Nebraska School Nurse Association, member of National School Nurse Association, Lamaze Class teacher, Camp Comeca camp nurse, Red Cross CPR instructor, UNMC Preceptor for senior nursing students, Stop the Bleed instructor, and Red Cross Blood Service volunteer for 42 years - taking hundreds of senior students to donate blood.

Peg says, "Healthcare has changed dramatically in the past 4 decades.  Medical professionals must continue to learn and grow, and broaden their knowledge base."

Peg has met and worked with some of the most amazing people.  Some of her first students are now parents and grandparents of her current students, and they have all touched her life in such positive ways.  "I should have kept notes all these years; they would have made a great book," Peg said.  She says she has made many precious, lifelong friends through her career.  "I hit the jackpot when I found this career of caring for so many kids and working with great people."

Her role as a school nurse has involved gaining the trust of both her students and their parents.  She has enjoyed building strong relationships over the years and generations. 

"I do my best to reduce health barriers to learning, encourage regular attendance and make our schools a safe place for our students to thrive," Peg said.

Jane Jareske: 63rd Inductee into the Healthcare Hall of Fame

Jane Jareske was born on November 25, 1952 in McCook, Nebraska to Edward and Nadean Stoney, Jane Jareskehaving one older brother and four younger sisters.  She grew up on a farm in Indianola and  Jane's job was to milk the cows.  Her childhood consisted of Church, school and farming. 

Jane rode the bus eight miles every day to attend Bartley High School, and graduated in 1971.  She was in choir, volleyball and track.  During her senior year of high school, Jane didn't quite know what she wanted to do, but one day she talked to the bus driver about Mary Lanning School of Nursing.  Jane didn't know much about nursing but knew she loved to help people, so she decided to apply and got in!

After attending Mary Lanning School of Nursing and taking some classes at Hastings College, she worked for 10 months at Cambridge Hospital.  Jane got her first car after graduating from nursing school.

While working in Cambridge, Jane met her husband, Pete and they were married in 1975, and moved to Cozad, Nebraska.  Jane began working at the Cozad Community Hospital.  Pete and Jane have two daughters, Jennifer (Barry) Fox and Crystal (Alejandro Martinez) Jareske, and four grandchildren, Carsten, Austin, Haydn and Nicolas.

Jane has made her career at our hospital for a total of 43 years.  She has worked in all areas of nursing, but her favorite is surgery.  When she started working part-time in surgery, she realized how much she enjoyed it, and took the opportunity for full-time surgery nurse when it became available.

Watching her grandsons play sports and going to the family cabin in Cambridge are among the things she loves.  She also loves spending time with her friends.  She is a member of the "Thirsty Thursdays" group which includes girlfriend get-togethers on Thursday nights, especially at Mac's Creek.

Jane is a member of the Altar Society of Christ the King Catholic Church and the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses.  There are many things Jane loves about nursing - like seeing people get better and their satisfaction when they have been treated well.  Through the years she has worked with many great nurses and hospital staff and enjoys her relationships with each of them.  If you walk into the hospital on Friday mornings, you can see Jane and one of the housekeeping employees doing their "Friday Dance."

Through her nursing career and life, Jane has learned about herself and how to work with people.  "Nursing is a lifelong career," she explained, "You have to keep up with all the change."  When Jane first stared in nursing she used mercury thermometers, now there is new technology available in healthcare.  One thing that hasn't changed is Jane's ability to start an IV; the surgery nurses say she is the best!  Jane has made so many different friends over the years working at Cozad Community Hospital and said, "They are a part of her family."

Charlie Conroy: 64th Inductee into the Healthcare Hall of Fame

Charlie Conroy was born on May 27, 1955 to Lawrence and Helen Conroy.  He grew up on a farm in Oconto, Nebraska with two brothers and two sistersCharlie Conroy being the 2nd youngest in the family.

When they moved to Cozad, Charlie's father worked for Evans Bakery and he taught Charlie how to bake, which is still one of his favorite things to do.

As a young boy, Charlie learned the importance of caring for others and how to work hard by scooping snow in the winter and mowing lawns in the summer.  He noted that his favorite teacher growing up was Norma Johnson.

During Middle School, Charlie began playing football and continued throughout his high school years, graduating from Cozad in 1973.  After high school, Charlie worked at Cooper's Best, spent 8 years at Monroe Automotive, 39 years working for Hunt Cleaners, and currently works for Cozad Community Healthcare System in the Maintenance Department.

Charlie always enjoyed playing Bingo at the nursing home, which was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.  They noticed that he was always there so they asked him to volunteer.  He had the best time and loved seeing the joy of the people when they won and received their prize, "A Banana". 

Charlie loves spending time with his family and having them close by.  He has two children, Meggan and Andrew (Ann), and two grandchildren, Blake and Josie.

Charlie served as a Cozad Fire and Rescue EMT for 29 years.  He  became a volunteer for the Cozad Fire Department because, "He thought it was a good thing to do and wanted to help people."  He retired from the EMT position in 2017.  During his time as an EMT, Charlie received Outstanding Young Firefighter in 1991, Distinguished Service Award in 2001 and 2011, and EMT of the Year in 2012.

Charlie said, "It was fun and that is why I did it for so many years."  He notes his favorite part was meeting all the nice people and having a successful call.  Through the years, he learned how to treat people with kindness and they'll treat you with kindness.

It seems obvious that Charlie served as a volunteer for 29 years for all the right reasons; out of the goodness of his heart; not for the glory.  He has spent his whole life helping others any way he can and lives a life with no regret. 

As Charlie puts it, "I'm the type of person that will help anyone, and hopefully people I've helped with remember and help me or someone  else when they need it.

Aaron Thomas

Aaron Thomas was raised in Parkersburg, Iowa and attended Aplington-Parkersburg High School. After Aaron Thomas speaking at the 15th Annual Fall Ballgraduating from high school, Aaron attended Drake University in Des Moines, IA.  While attending Drake, Aaron was a four year letter winner on their basketball team.  After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Aaron did a short stint at St. Cloud State as a graduate assistant basketball coach.  He then proceeded to take a job in education at Union High School in Laporte City, IA.   While working at Union High School, Aaron served as the Assistant Principal, Athletic Director, and Head Basketball Coach. Aaron furthered his education by getting his Master’s degree from Drake University in Educational Administration.

Aaron currently is an employee at Aplington-Parkersburg High School. Aaron is the Principal and the Head Basketball Coach. Aaron, his wife Ellie, and their three boys are also active members in the Congregational Church. 

Aaron has a passion for impacting lives and public speaking is one avenue he utilizes. Aaron Thomas’ father Ed was a beloved high school football coach who not only trained generations of players on the importance of hard work, dedication, excellence and commitment but personally put these values into action when he was the community leader who inspired his town to rebuild in the wake of a deadly EF 5 tornado. Not long after the community withstood the disaster of the storm, the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa, endured a far worse tragedy: the fatal shooting of Ed Thomas by a former player with some mental health issues.

Following his father’s murder, Aaron was approached to return home to take over his father’s responsibilities as athletic director and to continue the legacy his father had built in being not only a school leader but an example for the town to follow.

Rather than shun the family of their father’s murderer and perpetuate the tragedy that Parkersburg faced, Aaron and his family called for understanding and forgiveness-because that’s what Ed Thomas would have wanted them to do.

In this incredible story of ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, Aaron Thomas shares his family’s journey of showing uncommon strength during the darkest of times. Aaron’s speaking topics can vary but they most typically address how to deal with adversity, making the most of all opportunities and the power of one. He will challenge you to look at your life, your family, and your job to see if you are being a difference maker.

Due to his father’s accomplishments and the reaction of the Thomas Family in their most tragic moments, they were the awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards.  Aaron also received the Missouri Valley Conference 2010 Most Courageous Award.  A book entitled the “The Sacred Acre”chronicles the accomplishments of Ed Thomas’ life and discusses the family reaction to the tragic event that took their father’s life.


Auction Item Sponsors

  • Dr. Tim Davis, Davis Family Dental
  • Dr. Scott Howe, Urologist 
  • Dr. Dan McGowan, Cardiologist
  • Paulsen, Inc.
  • Service Master of Mid Nebraska
  • Waypoint Bank
  • Scott and Roz Trusdale
  • Darr Feedlot
  • Homestead Bank
  • Cozad Services
  • Security First Bank
  • Cozad Telephone Company
  • Plum Creek Motors
  • Claude Jr and Karen Berreckman
  • Waypoint Financial Services
  • The Olson Group
  • Howard and Linda Benjamin
  • Al and Joann Svajgr
  • Century Styling
  • Tara's Nails
  • Pony Express
  • CHI Good Samaritan
  • Rustic & Red
Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors at the 15th Annual Fall Ball!
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