Credit Union Employee’s Own Miracle Inspires ‘Lunch at Tiffany’s’ Crowd

It’s hard not to believe in miracles when they happen so close to home.

Five days after suffering a stroke during pregnancy, coma-inducing brain surgery and an emergency Caesarean section, Kristi Rysdam got to hold her newborn son, Raylen, for the first time in late January. More than half of similar stroke victims do not survive, and only 10 percent make a full recovery.

Raylen, who was born three months premature, weighed just 1 pound, 15 ounces when he was born. He would spend 64 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before going home with his dad, Josh, and mom Kristi, a community marketing specialist at Oregon Community Credit Union (OCCU).

Today, the Rysdam family is doing well, and their story—captured in an emotional video—helped to inspire the credit union representatives and other community members who sat down for “Lunch at Tiffany’s” in Eugene last week to raise money for PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center and the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals.

The event, presented by Credit Unions for Kids, raised $132,285.

“Kristi has been one of my main contacts at OCCU,” says Alexa Sharps, director of the Children’s Miracle Network for the Sacred Heart Medical Center Foundation, “so for this to happen to her and be highlighted at this event really brought things full-circle in the credit union world.”

Northwest credit unions started the Credit Unions for Kids program in 1986. Now credit unions’ national charity of choice, it has raised more than $110 million for the 170 hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network, including $12 million in the Northwest alone for the region’s six network hospitals—CMN Hospitals of the Inland Northwest, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Rogue Valley Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Sacred Heart Medical Center.

“All of the dollars raised here stay local and go toward benefitting infants and children treated at Sacred Heart,” Sharps says. “Other Children’s Miracle Network hospitals typically hold some type of auction, but they all look different. That’s the beauty of it: We can all do different things that work for our community.”

“Lunch at Tiffany’s” obviously works for the Eugene community. This year’s fourth-annual event drew dozens of attendees, including representatives from 13 credit unions. In addition to OCCU, six of those credit unions were event sponsors: OnPoint Community, First Tech Federal, Pacific Cascade Federal, Register-Guard Federal, Laneco Federal and SELCO Community.

Northwest Community Credit Union and Valley Credit Union sponsored tables; Unitus Community Credit Union helped to underwrite auction packages, as did credit union partner CU Direct. And several credit union executives participated in the program, including Troy Stang, president/CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association; John Iglesias, CEO of Northwest Community; Chad Olney, CEO of Bi-Mart Federal; Darrell Stark, chief retail officer for OCCU; Rick Hein, CEO of OSU Federal; and Larry Hoff, CEO of Fibre Federal.

The event itself featured live and silent auctions. Among the more-popular packages up for bid: a Wine-Country tour that included meals, spa treatments and a two-night stay at the luxurious Allison Inn; a seven-night Alaskan glacier cruise, including round-trip airfare from Eugene to Seattle; jewelry from Eugene’s Skeie’s Jewelers; a four-course dinner and wine at Eugene’s upscale Willie’s Restaurant; and a shopping excursion for seven, via limousine, from Eugene to Portland.

“It means a lot to be able to put on not only a fun event for the community, but also to raise really important dollars for our hospital,” Sharps says. “Taking care of our friends and neighbors is an incredible feeling, and I know that everyone I worked with on this event is very proud of what they accomplished.”


Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216,

Posted in Events, Federal.