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7Everyday Hero: 100-year-old volunteer eases the minds of hospital patients

Posted: 12:31 PM, Dec 31, 2018
Updated: 2019-01-02 14:04:08Z

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Chuck Kavalec is proof age doesn't have to slow you down. At 100 years old, he still walks a mile a day, but he said it's volunteering that truly keeps him young at heart.

"The hardest thing in the world is to do nothing," he said. "People who do nothing — they retire, do nothing, they're gone real fast. It does me more good than it does whomever I'm trying to help."

Kavalec first came to UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins 25 years ago as a patient, but stayed to volunteer.

"I thought, 'They're doing so much for me here. I've gotta give something back to the community,'" he said.

For the past 24 years, he's done everything from working in the gift shop to delivering flowers. It's his current job — escorting patients in the radiology department — that fills him the most, he said.

His mission is two-fold really. Sure, he helps people get to where they need to go, but it's what happens along the way that turns out to be the best medicine.

"What I try to do is loosen them up and make them forget about where they're going or what's going to happen," Kavalec said. "You would be surprised how many people come to me afterward and say, 'I was so apprehensive about having that done but by the time I got there, it didn't bother me and it wasn't bad anyway.'"

Chuck will tell you again and again: "I've never had a bad day."

And thanks to his magnetic spirit, the patients at Poudre Valley Hospital don't either.

"It's hard to give your time, but that's important, and they're the best people," he said. "Believe me, the volunteers are the best people."

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