Undergraduate and graduate nursing students pursuing additional nursing degrees; preference to those enrolled in the RN and BSN educational track; given at the discretion of the college.
Warren and Betty Foster established this fund in 2003 in memory of their daughter Laurie. As a graduate of Santa Fe Community College and a full-time employee in the Heart Transplant Unit of Shands Hospital, Laurie was determined to give back to others in need by becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She was looking forward to her transfer to the University of Florida to complete her education and continue at Shands as a lifelong Gator. Laurie was eight years old when she received a heart transplant. Thirteen years later and shortly after applying for admission to UF’s College of Nursing, Laurie was hospitalized with heart complications and passed away shortly thereafter in March 2003.
Laurie’s spirit and love for others were the foundation of a positive, loving attitude that never questioned “why me?” In addition to her heart transplant, Laurie was twice diagnosed with and successfully treated for post-transplant lymphoprolifeative disease, a form of lymphoma. She was very active in support of Children’s Miracle Network and Ronald McDonald House, and she frequently volunteered in nursing homes to cheer the elderly. She was featured many times in the National Children’s Miracle Network telethon and yearly provided radio interviews in support of these organizations. Following her death, Laurie’s friends, physicians and Shands coworkers gathered together to paint ceramic tiles that now act as room identifiers in the Shands Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). These tiles and memorial entitled “Laurie’s Perfect Gift” give daily encouragement to families with loved ones in the Shands PICU. Many of the doctors who knew Laurie, along with community-minded RE/MAX employees, purchased the completed memorial with a donation of $40,000 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network.
Laurie loved Gainesville, the University of Florida and the people at Shands. It was her dream to live and work in Gainesville; giving back to the community, the hospital and the university that she loved so much. Those who knew Laurie will never forget her loving spirit; she will forever be an icon of what loving, committed nursing care should be.