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Meet One Of Idaho's Best Philanthropists; He's 13 Years Old

Kootenai Health

Jack Pierce dreams big. Not about himself, mind you. His dreams include health care for others and protecting Idaho's caregivers. In fact, Jack Pierce has been honored this year by the Idaho Nonprofit Center as one of Idaho's best philanthropists.Each year on his birthday, Jack convinces friends and family, in lieu of a birthday gift, to instead make a donation to Kootenai Health Medical Center. He started the tradition when he was seven years old; and six years later, Kootenai Health Foundation has created "Jack's Birthday Club" to showcase Jack's tradition and inspire others.

Jack and his father Gil visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the big honor from the Idaho Nonprofit Center, how donations in his name have helped fund some impressive medical technology and his mom, Sarah, who happens to work at Kootenai Health.

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. This morning, we're going to spend some time with the young man who is among Idaho's best and brightest. His name is Jack Pierce; and he is being honored this year by the Idaho Nonprofit Center as one of Idaho's best philanthropists. And I know that because, full disclosure, I actually had the honor of presenting that honor to him just a couple of weeks ago. Jack joins us live this morning with his dad, Gil Pierce. Good morning to you both.

JACK PIERCE: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Mr. Pierce. This is a pretty extraordinary young man you have there. It's my understanding that Jack’s philanthropy started at a pretty young age.

Credit Gil Pierce
The Pierce Family

GIL PIERCE: It is something Jack's been involved in since, I think, he was about seven years old. It kind of all started with one of his birthdays when he made the decision that he wanted to do something different other than receive gifts. He thought, maybe the kids could bring whatever donation amount that they felt necessary or felt they wanted to contribute. And then Jack was going to make a decision on what he was going to do with that afterwards. And he chose the foundation of Kootenail Health Medical Center where Sarah, my wife and obviously his mom, works.

PRENTICE: Jack, over the years this has built considerably. How old are you now?

JACK PIERCE: I'm 13 now.

PRENTICE: So, tell me about KootenaI Health. It's very much a part of your family's life. Yes?

JACK PIERCE: Yes, for sure. So, my mom works at the hospital, and then we have a couple of family friends who also work at the hospital, that we are super close with.

PRENTICE: Have you gotten the opportunity to see some of the modern miracles that are performed at Kootenai Health?

JACK PIERCE: For sure. last year, for my last donation, we donated to The Da Vinci Robot, which helps in surgery. And I got to be there when they presented it, and I got to be one of the first to use it.

PRENTICE: Gil, obviously every donation to Kootenai Health matters so much. But my sense is this is also an act of love.

GIL PIERCE: It is. We've lived in Idaho basically our whole life. My wife and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene here for about 20 years now. You know, it's a community hospital and it's just something that we believe in as a family. And we do our best to support that and try to get other folks to support it as well.

PRENTICE: Now more than ever. Jack, what grade are you in?

JACK PIERCE: I'm an eighth grade.

PRENTICE: Has the pandemic been particularly difficult?

JACK PIERCE: Yes…through school and everything, because we've been switching back to two days a week, and sometimes four days a week.

PRENTICE: What do you miss the most?

JACK PIERCE: Getting to be with my friends, because we're going back to two days a week, which is an A schedule and a B schedule. So there separating most of the grades.

Credit Kootenai Health

PRENTICE: And Gil, your better half, she's on the front line of this pandemic.

GIL PIERCE: She is. So, just as it has been for everybody else, it's challenging. You know, she goes to work every day and is dealing with it on, like you said, the front line. And, you know, there are a lot of folks out there that have to do it. And, you know, the need is highest priority right now. And we hope that eventually we can curb this thing and get moving on. But right now, it seems to be hanging, pretty tight.

PRENTICE: Well, Jack, 13 years old, I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that what you are doing is extraordinary for someone of any age. What do you want to do someday?

JACK PIERCE: I really don't know. Probably in the medical field for sure, but I don't really know exactly what's ahead of me.

PRENTICE: Well Gil, my sense is that makes perfect sense to me: another caregiver in the family.

GIL PIERCE: Yeah, that seems to be. Actually, our oldest daughter is going to Boise State right now. She just got home last night, so it's good to see her back home.
And obviously, the medical field has been part of our family, obviously, ever since our kids have been here with us. And, you know, they're following that role; and whatever they choose to do, we're very supportive and very, very happy for them.

PRENTICE: Well, have a wonderful holiday season. My sense is that Idaho is a better place because of your family.

GIL PIERCE: We like to think so. And we're very fortunate and grateful that we're able to share what we do with other folks, and just hope that if other people are able to, that’s great.. And if you're not, then maybe we're maybe helping you out a little bit. Every little bit counts. Like Jack said, it just started with his birthday club. And just so folks know, they can actually join. There's an actual Jack's Birthday Club and you can join that birthday club every year and donate every year on your birthday, whether it's ten dollars or whatever it is. That's something that he started and will continue to grow.

PRENTICE: Happy holidays to you. He is Gil Pierce, and this young man is Jack Pierce. Thank you so very much.

GIL PIERCE: Thank you, George, for having us.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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