Sunday profile: Early life challenges helped Kati Ledall come full circle
Kati Ledall knew what her calling was at the age of 9. She was a third grader and undergoing one of the most trying experiences anyone can go through — cancer.
It’s a diagnosis no one wants to hear, followed by procedures daunting to even the toughest of people. Ledall underwent brain surgery at 9, a year of chemotherapy at 12, and another year of chemotherapy at 18.
But, shining brightly through all the darkness and the scary hospital hallways, Ledall remembers one thing; the volunteers and the way her hometown of Eaton, Colorado rallied behind her through such a trying time.
“Making a hospital a less scary place is something that I’m really passionate about,” Ledall said. “I know hospitals really well, and I know that when you see a friendly face how that makes you feel more cared for.”
This is where Ledall’s life and destiny come to make a full circle. As the lead volunteer coordinator at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Ledall is able to be that shining light in the middle of a long, tough battle for those who may need it the most.
“I feel like coming here is my story coming full circle,” she said. “Giving back is really important to me and being able to do that here at Valley View is just as important.”
Ledall oversees more than 100 volunteers and 23 different programs at Valley View. She helped in developing No One Dies Alone, a program in which volunteers are called to sit with patients in their final hours. If a volunteer is not available she fills those shoes and can be found in the patient’s room offering comforting care.
“Kati is a positive and energizing force at Valley View,” said Stacey Gavrell the chief community relations officer for the hospital. “In her work with volunteers, she builds wonderful, individual relationships. Her genuine caring shines through in her interactions with them.”
“A lot of our volunteers have walked in the shoes of our patients, so they’ve been there and they know those feelings,” Ledall said.
Ledall goes beyond simple greetings when passing anyone at the hospital. She strives to make connections with every person she meets, whether asking about their family, their pets or simply asking how their day is going.
“I come to work every day happy, because I get to spread cheer and hope,” Ledall said.
Volunteering didn’t begin for Ledall at Valley View, however. She was also active in a variety of ways during her high school and college days on the Front Range. She spent time supporting people with developmental disabilities and served in the Key Club, Honor Society and Rotary Club.
During Ledall’s four years at Colorado State University, she lead the Relay for Life charity event in Fort Collins. She helped grow the program from 50 participants to over 650 and raised a quarter of a million dollars for the American Cancer Society.
“I started volunteering at the age of 14 with my grandma, great aunt and sister at my local hospital in Greeley,” said Ledall. “Volunteering has always been a family affair for me. I feel that through volunteer coordinating I have found a family of support here in Glenwood, as well.”
Ledall was recently awarded the ATHENA Young Professional at this year’s Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association luncheon. The award was established to honor emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession.
“I heard about the award the week before and thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to work harder for that’,” Ledall said.
“We are thrilled that Kati has been recognized with the ATHENA Young Professional award,” said Gavrell. “She definitely reflects the attributes of the recipients.”
“I felt so loved and honored by the Young Athena award, because I know how many wonderful women have received it,” Ledall said. “I don’t do what I do for the recognition, but the ATHENA award was such an honor.”
Ledall says she aspires to be like other women leaders, such as past ATHENA recipient and cancer support volunteer Nancy Reinisch, who died from cancer earlier this year, as well as long-time volunteer Maudie Weller.
“It makes me happy to encourage others and to invest in this community,” said Ledall. “That will always be a part of who I am.”
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Valley View Hospital admitted more patients with COVID-19 in one recent week than it did during the entire month after the mid-summer spike in cases following the July 4th holiday.