By Kathleen Graham

On Wednesday, July 9th,  Dan Berta, President of Fairfield County Bank, presented a check for $3,000 to Rich Vazzana, President of the Rotary Club of Ridgefield, for their Gift of Life challenge.

Gift of Life International, a Rotarian sponsored organization, provides children all over the world, who are suffering from congenital heart disease, a chance to receive a lifesaving procedure that is performed at a discounted rate of approximately $6,000. This implausible price is because of the generosity of many hospitals and pediatric surgeons.  More than 16,000 children’s lives have been saved by this program.

Abe Gordon, from Gift of Life and Bridgeport Rotary, challenged the other Rotary clubs in this district to each raise $6,000 to fund one pediatric heart surgery.  The hope is that enough Rotary clubs will participate, so that enough money will be raised, to pay for 20 pediatric heart surgeries in honor of the twenty children who tragically lost their lives in Newtown, CT on December 14th 2012.

The Rotary Club of Ridgefield made the commitment to raise the funds for one of those surgeries.  Fairfield County Bank agreed to match the first $3000 raised. To raise awareness for this fundraiser, Fairfield County Bank, had their first ever Dress Down Day, where employees could wear jeans to work if they donated $5.  Donations were collected at all Fairfield County Bank locations for a period of one week.  What happened was phenomenal.  Between Fairfield County Bank employees and customers, as well as donations from generous Rotarians, over $9,000 was collected.  Adding the $3,000 from Fairfield County Bank and more than $12,000 was raised in total—enough for not one, but two, pediatric heart surgeries.  This is a great example of what can collectively be achieved when everyone works together—in this case a non-profit and a community bank.

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