Edward Hospital RN Named Top National Winner of Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award
Jill Zuleg, a Naperville, Ill. resident and obstetrical registered nurse (RN) with Edward Hospital, is a winner of the 10th annual Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. Jill is among five healthcare professionals across the country to be named an award winner, selected for their impact on the lives of others through extraordinary patient care, sacrifice and innovation while serving as an inspiration to others. Jill is the top national winner of the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award in the RN category.
The Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recognizes the significant contribution of these professionals to today’s society, while reinforcing the vital role of these professions in keeping Americans healthy. From staging the largest bone marrow drive in the state to rushing to the scene of a fire after a long day of work, the winners were selected for going above and beyond their job descriptions to selflessly serve others in a way truly inspiring to their peers.
Jill has taken her experience of the ultimate tragedy – the loss of a child – and turned it into a program that honors her son by helping others going through the unthinkable, selfless decision of donating a loved one’s organs. When her son Kyle was tragically killed by a falling tree limb, Jill and her husband opted to donate his organs in order to share the gift of life with five recipients. The long process of keeping Kyle on life support while matches for organs were found was extremely difficult emotionally. To support other grieving families going through this process, the Zulegs established the Kyle Zuleg Foundation. The Foundation, in partnership with the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, provides comfort in the form of warm blankets and gift baskets as families spend final long hours at the bedside of their loved one. The blanket design includes the words “Forever in Our Hearts.” Jill’s hope is that the blankets provide a tangible sign of appreciation for the incredible gift of organ donation. Jill has also created the Kyle Zuleg Foundation Annual Scholarship, which is offered to high school seniors who will major in the same field that Kyle intended.
“We spent every last minute with Kyle at the bedside while his seven organs were matched to people whose only hope for living was to wait for someone to die,” Jill said. “During the days and nights spent at the hospital we felt there was something missing for us as a grieving family. It was from our promise to Kyle that the Kyle Zuleg Foundation was created. We wanted to give back to other organ donor families what we felt was missing. I wanted to help other families going through the organ donation process and to help bring awareness for organ donation after the loss of Kyle.”
The 2012 winners of the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award were announced in conjunction with its 10th anniversary. More than 10,000 healthcare professionals have been nominated since the inception of the award. The award honors winners in categories including: Registered Nurses, Advance Practice Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses/Licensed Vocational Nurses, students enrolled in nursing schools, and other non-physician healthcare professionals. Judges selecting honorees include Cherokee Uniforms professionals, national nurse leaders and former Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recipients.
The grand prize winner in each category will receive an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise for two, and all other winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a 2013 medical conference of their choice in the continental US. All winners will receive a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Cherokee Footwear, a value of $1,000; a crystal Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy; a 14K gold-plated commemorative pin; a year’s subscription to Scrubs, the nation’s first lifestyle magazine for nurses; and a $500 donation in their name to the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation.
Additionally, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 for each nomination received during the 2012 nomination period to Nurses House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing hardships.