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2024 Olympic Hopeful Alex Walsh: Shares her Family Legacy of Visitation Hospital Foundation in Haiti

2024 Olympic Hopeful Alex Walsh: Shares her Family Legacy of Visitation Hospital Foundation in Haiti

Olympic silver medalist Alex Walsh’s relationship with her great-aunt Theresa Patterson’s has grown into a passion for the Visitation Hospital Foundation. Alex remembers growing up hearing and seeing articles calling her Aunt the “Mother Theresa” of Haiti. It wasn't until she volunteered for an internship in Haiti that she had an epiphany. Alex realized that for her, Patterson was an American ambassador of goodwill for the people of Haiti “like I hope to be representing the United States at the Olympic Games”. Alex is inspired by Patterson and honored to follow in her great-aunt’s charitable footsteps by supporting the Visitation Hospital Foundation in southwest Haiti.

Patterson, Founder and Executive Director of the Visitation Hospital Foundation, had a lifelong dream to construct a hospital in Haiti. She sees her service as the civic spirit of American goodwill. As Patterson passes the torch to the next generation, her hope is that her legacy of serving the people within a two-hour radius of the village of Petite Rivière de Nippes in Haiti will continue.

Walsh got the opportunity to visit the hospital in Haiti a couple of years ago while in her junior year of study and swimming at the University of Virginia, and experienced what her great-aunt had created and continues to support.

“She’s just highly respected, and people love her. They know that she’s here to help. But it was hard for me to visualize that and see really what that means,” Walsh says. “I worked with the foundation for two weeks in an internship type of situation. And I did it with my best friend from high school who also now swims at Virginia.”

Walsh got to see where the hospital was built, what the community surrounding it is like, and see what her great-aunt’s calling had accomplished.

“I got to see what the donations that my family and other people from around the United States and Nashville [Tenn.] had contributed, what that was going towards,” Walsh says. “I got to see firsthand the impact that the foundation has made. That was a life changing experience.”

Walsh wrote about what she witnessed during that trip with entries and reflections in a diary, which she plans to look at again and turn into something she can share with other young people in the coming months on instagram. In the meantime, she has resumed training for next year’s Summer Olympics.

She is also publicizing an exciting new charitable soiree to fund expansion of the Haitian clinic. The fund-raising will be a huge celebration and fund-raiser at the Standard in Nashville which hopes to raise $3.5 million for adding an ambulatory surgical center to the clinic. In the past, patients who needed that kind of care were referred elsewhere to places not easy for them to get to.

The Black Tie Affair, on October 26, features the #1 Frank Sinatra impersonator band. All proceeds will go toward the foundation and the new surgical center.

“Obviously, a lot of UVA students follow me. And I have a lot of connections after the Olympics, and I have a lot of followers in Nashville. So I’m hoping this would be able to reach at least two demographics of people to spread awareness,” Walsh says. “The swim team here, we’re very conscious of like giving back to our community, like our swim team is already involved in a lot of nonprofits and missions. Now I’m hoping to at least spread awareness and help with the fund-raising for her cause.”

The Visitation Hospital Foundation clinic opened in 2008 and has continued operating for 15 years through earthquakes, floods, tropical storms, and oppression. The Haitian staff consists of 30 local members who continue serving over 300,000 people living within the 11 surrounding regions of Petite Riviere. Staffing of the new addition will include 15 additional full-time jobs for Haitian medical professionals.

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