Canepa Bang: You Can’t Argue With the Needs of Sick Children and Families

Sarah Canepa Bang remembers seeing her little sister slip into a coma after being hit by a car. That was only three days after her father’s funeral. Before she faded away, Mary told her mother, “Dad wants me to go with him.”

“My mom lived on the ICU floor sofa for at least two months. And then my sister emerged from the coma. She was the miracle child of the decade in Wisconsin,” Canepa Bang said.

It was a difficult time for Canepa Bang’s family. Her mother was just 45, widowed, and watching one of her children fight for her life. That experience helped to frame Canepa Bang’s staunch commitment to many charities, particularly Credit Unions for Kids.

“I know firsthand what those families go through . . . who can argue with the needs of sick children and their families,” Canepa Bang asked.

During her early credit union career with the Oregon Credit Union League, Canepa Bang joined other veteran supporters from Oregon and Southwest Washington credit unions, giving flight to the charity that has since raised millions for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. And she was a driving force in taking the model to a national level, where it now helps to support 170 hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network.

That’s another vivid memory that still irks her. She was appearing on the local telethon with other local credit union leaders presenting a check for $135,000. Airtime given to their presentation: seconds, it seemed. Airtime given to US Bank, which was presenting a much smaller check? Ten minutes.

An “infuriated” Canepa Bang said, “I remember going into the parking lot and stomping around.” Anyone who knows her can picture the moment. She asked what it would take to make Credit Unions for Kids a national charity and was told at least $200,000 in funds would have to be raised.

That happened. And pretty quickly.

Canepa Bang takes no credit but instead shines the spotlight on her bosses and regional credit union colleagues. But many of the same movement leaders nominated her for the Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement, and the judges agreed.

Canepa Bang’s history of leadership and innovation were also reasons she was selected for the high honor, which she will accept during the National Credit Union Foundation’s annual Herb Wegner awards dinner in February, 2014.


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

Posted in Awards.