Al and Dottye Van Iten were at their most vulnerable from July 7-23, 1980. Their 4-year-old son Jim had been hit by a car during a family fishing trip in southern Missouri, and he spent two weeks in the burn unit at MU Health Care’s University Hospital receiving skin grafts on his scalp and shoulder.
“We had decided there at the hospital that if the Lord would spare him and help us to get him back to normal that we would support the burn unit at the University of Missouri for what it would do for other patients,” Al Van Iten said.
Many people make those promises. The Van Itens followed through.
For 40 straight years, they have donated to what is now called the George D. Peak Memorial Burn and Wound Center.
“The support provided by Mr. and Mrs. Van Iten has contributed to not only the excellent burn care we provide on a daily basis but also has allowed increased educational opportunities for numerous staff members,” said Jeffrey Litt, DO, the director MU Health Care’s burn and wound program. “It’s allowed the University of Missouri to be at the forefront of advances in burn care.”
Al, a former school principal, and Dottye, a former social studies teacher, raised their family in Independence, Missouri, and are now retired and living in the Lake of the Ozarks area. Their son Jim made a complete recovery and went on to be a fine athlete and honor student. He is still doing well, and his parents are forever grateful for the care he received 40 years ago.
“Being educators and with a family, when we started this we were on a pretty limited budget,” Al Van Iten said. “But we felt like we could and should do something, since so much was done for us. It was our way of returning the blessing we were given.”