Champions of Their Community
Inter-Community Hospital will soon have enhanced security with the help of a highly trained four-legged friend – thanks to the generosity of Chris and Retha Champion.
THE NEW K9 SECURITY UNIT
Expected to debut soon, Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital’s new K9 Unit will provide an extra layer of safety to hospital security efforts. The breed of dog tasked with the job, Belgian Malinois, is commonly used as law enforcement and military dogs, and is good support in times of crisis.
“Having this highly trained dog present often adds a level of calm, which can help diffuse situations that pose a security risk,” explained George Diaz, Corporate Director of Safety, Security, Central Transportation and PBX for Emanate Health.
Both the dog and officer will go through an extensive three-month training program in preparation for their post, perfecting voice commands among the pair. With a retrofitted Ford Explorer, the new K9 Unit will patrol throughout the hospital to keep patients, families and visitors safe, focusing primarily on high-traffic areas, such as the Emergency Department and Behavioral Health, among others.
Previously, the K9 Unit utilized at Emanate Health Queen of the Valley Hospital had been shared among the two hospitals until the Champions so generously provided funding for a unit dedicated to Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital.
CHRIS AND RETHA CHAMPION
Mr. and Mrs. Champions’ first encounter with Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital was in 2018 when Mrs. Champion cut herself on a metal trash can. The following day, she unexpectedly collapsed. Once the couple arrived at the hospital, they learned that Retha’s kidneys were shutting down due to flesh-eating bacteria.
“If I hadn’t gotten the care I did there [at Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital], I would not be talking to you today,” Retha explained. “That’s how we became aware of what a professional hospital we have and how lucky we are to have hospitals like that in our area.”
After this experience, the Champions decided they wanted to donate to Emanate Health. They learned that the Foundation was raising funds to bring on a new K9 Unit, and it seemed like a perfect fit. The Champions had previously funded a security dog for the City of Covina, so were aware of the impact such programs can have.
“Everyone [on the Emanate Health staff] is so professional, it’s easy to talk to them, and they just do such a fantastic job for all of us,” Chris and Retha explained.
A LOVE OF THE ARTS, A HEART FOR COVINA
When the Covina Theater came up for sale, it was a project the Champions just couldn’t pass up. Chris and Retha Champion poured their hearts, souls and time into renovating over a span of five years. They created the Champion Family Foundation to support the new Covina Center for the Performing Arts along with many other local nonprofit organizations, including the Covina Concert Band, Covina Women’s Club, Homes for Heroes, the Mary S. Roberts Center, as well as providing scholarships for Cal Poly Pomona students and veterans’ education.
Having grown up in a family of 10 children in rural Arkansas, Retha learned the value of sharing from a young age. She was raised to believe, “If I have two dollars and someone needs a dollar, you give it to them.”
Having owned a business in the finance industry for 40 years, and being married for 43, the Champions are now focused on enjoying life and helping others. According to Retha, “We are very fortunate and it’s time to give back. As I always say, ‘If you could, you should.’”
In explaining their guiding vision for their Foundation, Chris and Retha noted, “When we’re long gone, the Champion Family Foundation will still be in existence. We want to create an energy that will continue to do good for the community.”
Given all they have done for the community – and for Emanate Health Inter-Community Hospital – the Champions’ legacy will live on for generations to come.