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Can’t stop, won’t stop

Dolly Lefever
Invests in orthopedic care

Six months after Dolly Lefever had her left hip replaced, she climbed Mount Rainier. Six months after she had the other hip replaced, she scaled Mount Tasman, the second highest peak in New Zealand. “I looked at those procedures as solutions to my problem,” Dolly says. “I fully intended to continue my lifestyle, just slightly modified.”

And that’s exactly what she did. For the next two decades, despite an autoimmune disease that continued to wear away her cartilage, she kept climbing mountains (with a slightly lighter pack), cross-country skiing, training search-and-rescue dogs and working as a midwife in Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Not even return trips to the Swedish Orthopedic Institute (SOI) in 2018 and 2019 to have both knees replaced sidelined her for long. Just eight months after the second procedure she was in Mongolia with a team from the United States National Guard, helping the local government get a dog search and rescue program up off the ground. “Dolly is tough,” says her surgeon, James P. Crutcher Jr., M.D.

Although Dolly’s grit and determination have played a big part in helping her stay so active, she’s also quick to praise Dr. Crutcher’s work. And that gratitude is why she supports SOI. “That man is a jewel,” Dolly says of the surgeon she’s known for more than 20 years. “He’s always known just what to do for me.”

Dolly grew up in a Mennonite farming family that raised pigs, chicken and turkeys in Alberta, Canada. And though her family never had much, they believed firmly in tithing. She left the church—and home—at 16, but the philosophy of giving back has stuck with her ever since.

“It’s important for me to give back wherever I’m able. It’s my philosophy of life.” –Dolly

In fact, that philosophy even deepened when she was midwifing and living among the Inupiaq and Yupik peoples in Alaska and the Northwest Territories. “There was never anyone in those villages who wouldn’t give someone else a helping hand, even if it was someone they were feuding with,” she says. “That reinforced a lot of what I learned as a child.”

Since then her philanthropy has taken several forms, from giving free care to women who couldn’t afford it to supporting children’s and environmental causes. She gives what she can, where she can, based on issues that move her.

Nationwide concerns about access to quality, affordable health care began to grab headlines right about the time of her knee replacement surgeries, and everything clicked: it was time to give more people access to the innovative care that allowed her to enjoy life on her terms.

She’s not motivated by recognition; getting her to open up about her giving is as difficult as stopping her from climbing a mountain. But if she can inspire others to do the same, it’s worth the discomfort: “I try to lead by example.”

Thanks to supporters like Dolly—and you—our patients have access to innovative orthopedic care and hope for a healthy tomorrow. To learn more about how your gift makes a difference at the Swedish Orthopedic Institute, contact Philanthropy Officer Libby Schoenborn at 206-215-2249 or libby.schoenborn@swedish.org.