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Memorial crowdfunding effort aids wilderness medicine at WVU

Memorial crowdfunding effort aids wilderness medicine at WVU

 

It’s been 10 years since former West Virginia University Emergency Medicine resident Greg Seftick died in an avalanche at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. 

Shortly after the tragic accident, the WVU Foundation worked with Seftick’s family and the School of Medicine to establish the Dr. Gregory Seftick Wilderness Medicine Fund. The memorial fund promotes and enhances wilderness medicine education, outreach, patient care and research within the WVU Department of Emergency Medicine. 

Now, Seftick’s family has partnered with the Foundation again to launch a crowdfunding effort that builds upon his legacy. All contributions made via the secure crowdfunding page will help ensure that Seftick’s interest in wilderness medicine influences future generations of students and provides opportunities for involvement in the activities and conferences he enjoyed. 

Seftick’s father, Dan, wrote a memoir, “Real Mountains,” in 2016 that recounts the weeklong search for his son and the passion that his son had for both mountains and medicine. All proceeds from the book were distributed to the Seftick Wilderness Medicine Fund and other nonprofit organizations aimed at benefiting programs that meant so much to Greg Seftick during his life. 

“I think he would be a little bit overwhelmed by the fund, but I think he would recognize that he’s passing along his interests and encouraging those following him in areas like wilderness medicine,” Dan Seftick said.

Dr. Erica Shaver, associate professor for the WVU Department of Medical Education, said the money raised has allowed both residents and medical students to travel on wilderness medicine immersion experiences, and they are still looking for new, innovative ways to use the funds. 

“We are also currently looking at ways to use these Foundation funds in meaningful ways to sponsor unique wilderness medicine training opportunities for residents that enjoy practicing medicine in austere environments and see this practice as a large part of their EM careers,” Shaver said. “Every time we use foundational funds, we truly reflect on it and ask ourselves, ‘Would Greg be happy with this use?’ and we always take a moment during the experiences we provide to tell the audience a bit about Greg and what a wonderful human and physician he truly was.”

Seftick was born and raised in Afton, Minnesota, where his parents still reside today. He was a 2002 graduate of St. Olaf College, and a 2007 graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his Emergency Medicine residency training at WVU in 2010 and served as an attending physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon before moving back to Montana to be closer to his beloved Rocky Mountains. 

Shaver was a fellow resident during Seftick’s time in Morgantown, and she said he never seemed to have a bad day – and he worked hard to help others feel the same.

“He was the one that would lift others up when they were feeling less than optimistic and always saw the glass as half full, never half empty,” Shaver said. “As a physician, he always strived to have more knowledge and be an incredible advocate for his patients.”

Dan Seftick said his son was never one to fully appreciate the impact he made on the local community. Seeing how the community teamed up in his memory was an eye-opening experience.

“He always had the capability of absorbing information and knowledge, but we really didn’t notice how much he loved to share that with other people,” Dan Seftick said. “Hearing all these good things about him and observing what he was able to do as a doctor in that short time, I felt he could have really contributed in a lot of ways to society. He had a lot to give. He told me more than once that he only wanted to help people.”

All gifts to the memorial crowdfunding effort are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.