It’s About Healing for Jim and Joann McKay



“I was always involved in things, always causing some sort of trouble,” 80-year-old Jim McKay said with a smirk.

As a prominent Gilby, N.D., farm implement owner and a vocal North Dakota citizen, Jim and his late wife Joann raised a family, volunteered their time to the local political scene and fed their passion for giving.

It was during the busiest time of his life that Jim discovered a deep-seated passion for helping in emergency situations. He spent many hours volunteering as an EMT and chair of the town’s fire department.

“The phone rang 24 hours a day,” Jim said, as his crew was often the first responder on the scene of many rural emergencies. In fact, Jim’s crew was responsible for the first Emergency Responder Team in the state of North Dakota. He was also a critical board member on the 911 phone system initiative – the same one that now saves lives every day.

“I was on the board for the 911 initiative,” Jim said. “So the phone system we have today, I helped build.”

Before Joann passed away, the couple spent much of their time traveling between North Dakota and Florida. Both suffered from a lung condition that required them to carry oxygen. But no amount of extra luggage would stop Jim from hitting the road and heading south.

“The doctors didn’t believe I would ever be able to lug all our equipment from North Dakota to Florida,” Jim said. “But I found a way.”

Nothing would stop Jim and his wife from giving generously to Sanford’s trauma services, either. As a former EMT, Jim believes the better a hospital’s trauma center is the better medical professionals are able to treat for patients in critical need of emergency care.

“Giving to the trauma center helps people right away,” he said. “If you take them to a place where they get help right away, the better their outcome.”

Today, Jim lives in an active senior living community and spends much of his day reading, listening to music and following University of North Dakota sports teams. He’s been a big supporter for decades.

Jim also continues to nurture his giving nature. But it’s not something he really wants recognition for. “I like to sit back in my rocking chair,” he said. “I don’t need a thank you. There’s a lot of things people can do very quietly. I gave to Sanford for the benefit of the community. The benefit of everyone.”

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Posted Date: June 2012

It’s About Healing for Jim and Joann McKay

Donor Jim McKay is helping build the road to healing with his support for Sanford Health’s trauma services. His generosity is helping others get on the road to healing faster because his donation makes sure our help is just a few minutes away.