Longtime friend Alan Poe congratulates Eleanor Hazel on her Top of the Tree honor.
Black Friday sales ended long ago, the Warrenton Christmas parade is a sweet memory, and Gumdrop Square is open for business. These are all harbingers of holidays in Fauquier County, but there are some who don’t believe the holiday season can officially begin before the annual Lights for Life celebration at Fauquier Hospital. Break out the egg nog, Lights for Life was held Wednesday night, in a glorious burst of poinsettias and evergreen.
Organized by the Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary and the Fauquier Health Foundation, the event is a special thank you gift to donors who have supported the hospital and all its entities during the year. 2012 Top of the Tree honorees were Bill and Eleanor Hazel, longtime contributors to the hospital and to a host of other Fauquier County and Northern Virginia organizations. The larger-than-life Mr. Hazel passed away three months ago, but his presence was felt in the standing-room only crowd, as family, friends and health system supporters remembered his legacy.
Sandra Brown, president of the Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary, opened the festivities with a tribute to Mr. Hazel’s many accomplishments and generous philanthropy to the hospital, to Warrenton Presbyterian Church, Lord Fairfax Community College, Highland School, and Joe Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow organization for troubled youth. Mrs. Brown also recognized Mrs. Hazel’s significant contributions over the years, as an invaluable behind-the-scenes helpmate.
Rodger Baker, president and CEO of Fauquier Health, graciously thanked all of the health system’s supporters, and reminded his audience of all that the organization has accomplished over the last year: the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation & Nursing Center celebrated its 20th anniversary by unveiling renovated rooms and dining area; the health system contributed $11.2 million to the community in services and charity care; in keeping with requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the health system is ahead of the curve on providing electronic medical records for its patients; and community wellness initiatives like hosting the Warrenton Farmers Market, creating an organic garden on campus, and providing reduced-cost healthy meals for senior citizens through the Senior Supper Club are thriving.
Dr. William A. Hazel, an orthopedic surgeon and Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, said a few words honoring his father. “Dad always did love a party,” he said. “He would have been thrilled with this. It’s been three months, and we miss him.”
He said, “Here in Fauquier County, we come here to the hospital to be born, when we are in distress, to see loved ones… I have been all over Virginia. You may think hospitals everywhere are the same, but they’re not. The level of care you have here… it’s very important.”
Henry Hazel, grandson of the Top of the Tree honorees, was asked to entertain Lights for Life guests with a song, but had a Highland School concert to attend. So the gathering was treated to a video performance of Henry singing “The Captain and the Kid” by Jimmy Buffet, as photographs of his grandparents appeared behind him. It brought down the house.
After that moving tribute, there was only one thing left to do. The crowd counted down and watched as Hospital Hill was illuminated, officially welcoming in the holiday season.
For a complete album of photos of the event, visit Fauquier Health's Facebook page.