reposted with permission from Vail Health Foundation’s Vail Prevail.
“Nothing makes me happier and more fulfilled than to support the kind of growth that this entire valley has experienced because of the quality of its health care,” says Deborah.
Empowering Those Affected by Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
What initially began for Deborah Wittman as a simple way to give back by donating her clothes developed into a highly involved and impassioned role on the Bright Future Foundation (BFF) Board — a nonprofit partner of Vail Health’s Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH).
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Deborah moved to Colorado to attend undergraduate and law school at the University of Denver. After practicing real estate and corporate law in Denver for 13 years, she moved to the Vail Valley in 1990, where she transitioned into real estate sales and is an active real estate Broker Associate with Slifer Smith & Frampton. As a BFF Board member, Deborah has contributed her skills, expertise, and experience to support the organization.
“I love BFF and how it has grown with the needs of this community,” says Deborah. “What started as the Women’s Resource Center has grown into this magnificent organization that helps people in distress, whether from domestic violence, abuse, assault, or trafficking. We also have the specialists, the psychologists, the lawyers, and the doctors that can support our clients so that when they walk out our doors, they feel loved, secure, and empowered.”
Deborah also played a critical part in the fundraising for BFF’s BrightHouse, which opened in June 2021. The emergency housing facility can provide temporary housing for up to 24 victims of violence, including children and pets, while the staff advocates for victims to secure permanent and safe living arrangements.
Meaningful and Intentional Giving
Deborah and her husband, Rik Heid, also support BFF philanthropically. The couple feels fortunate to be in a position where they can focus on giving back. “The two of us have been here for over 40 years. During that time, we have learned, we have earned, and the time has come for us to return to this incredible community,” says Rik.
Deborah and Rik work together to ensure their giving is done meaningfully and intentionally and supports areas they are passionate about — like health and wellness at Vail Health — and where they can see the direct impact. “I feel so confident, safe, and secure for my medical needs when I walk into Vail Health — with its world-class specialists, quality health care, and institutional excellence. To me, it’s a blessing,” says Deborah.
Although the couple does not have children, they consider the children in the community their own. Recently, they began supporting organizations that empower youth, including EVBH community partner My Future Pathways, and are long-time supporters of The Cycle Effect, YouthPower 365, and BFF’s Buddy Mentors program.
Rik has also enjoyed several opportunities in the past to assist with the Vail Veterans Program, where he has shared his personal story of overcoming adversity to inspire others in the valley. After several years as a ski racer, a terrible accident led to Rik having to amputate his left leg. He decided for the sake of his mental well-being, he had to continue to ski. And so he did. Months after his accident, Rik returned to the mountain and joined the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, winning numerous medals, including gold, in 1994.
A Community With So Much to Offer
Deborah says living in the mountains nourishes the soul. “It’s so much fun,” she says. “You are out there with people who are striving to be healthy. A critical component of good health is happiness. If you are not happy, we now have the behavioral health support needed to help you.”
The couple loves everything this valley has to offer, including skiing, cycling, river rafting, hiking, Bravo! Vail, and above all, great friends and wonderful people. They also enjoy traveling all over the country in their motorhome — visiting old friends and new places and embarking on new adventures.
“Whether it is with dollars or whether it is with their time, everyone can contribute to making this valley a better, healthier place. It doesn’t matter what your financial statement looks like; you can give and make an impact.”Deborah Wittman