Sara Plumhoff didn’t know what was coming when her daughter, Danner, was born six years ago with birth defects. “My daughter was born with special needs. She was born with craniosynostosis. When babies are born their heads are in plates. So as their brain grows, their head grows, they get a fontonel, the soft spot in the front. It’s not until they’re older that the skull actually forms and fuses together. In her case some of those plates were fused together prematurely and her head is unusually shaped. Because of that she has a huge underbite. And her nasal passages were constricted.
Danner was born in Montrose—they said ‘something is wrong with your baby, she can’t breathe.’ Her head is crazy shaped.They intubated her and flew her to Denver. They did a trachiotomy so she could breathe. She had the trach for a year. With the dry high altitutude air it makes breathing harder.
“At first I was completely freaked out, but the thing about Danner was she was healthy. And mentally she is the amazing, off the charts, the smartest, sassiest little girl you ever met. We’ve done 10-hour surgeries where they literally take her skull off and put it on a table and shape it and put it back.
It opens you up to a whole different part of life that you’d never known of….Medicaid, special needs, getting home health, all the things that are beyond home, family and work.
It teaches you what you can and cannot do.
I have to take extra time off from work. But I work at night and in the mornings.
That book “Wonder” is my life story, but I’m not ready to read it.
In her early years, Sara Plumhoff was the General Tire version of a service brat. Because of her father’s job with General Tire, the family moved every two years until she ended up in high school in Ohio. She believes she got her wanderlust from moving so much in her youth.
After high school, Sara went to college in Virginia, at the University of Richmond.
She wound up in Colorado because her husband, Jim, is a hunter, and he wanted to head here for all the Western Slope has to offer.
“As an executive director of a non-profit you wear 27 hats and do different things all the time,” Sara explained. “In this particular job I work with a lot of donors, and try to get donors to start funds with the Foundation. So we manage a lot of assets and funds (about $5 million).
“It’s my job to work with the County and the city, the school district, the Montrose Economic Development Corp., and all the different organizations so I know what the issues are facing the community. That way, when people want to give away money and we are granting out dollars, we know how to grant the dollars out most wisely.”
In the last year, the Foundation has given out $300,000. Some of it is actually Community Foundation funds from community endowments. The rest of them are from other donors.They give out about $40,000 in scholarships each year to local college students. $40,000 in grants goes out through the grant cycle, which happens once a year.There is a committee that reviews all of them, picks certain criteria, and awards the grants.
“We’re pretty small as a Community Foundation. We have $5 million. Telluride has millions of dollars. Western Colorado Community Foundation in Grand Junction has millions of dollars.” The Foundation has two major fundraisers a year. The first is The Concert at the Bridges, in partnership with the Dolphin House, in June. In the summer, they do a “Savor the San Juans” home tour with the chefs and decorators. That event is done in collaboration with Valley Food Partnership.