About Us – History

Founded in Melbourne in 1957 by Dr. Jack T. Bechtel, Brevard Heart Foundation was originally created to provide a loan fund for patients needing cardiac care. Today, the Foundation has grown into supporting local healthcare initiatives and providing scholarships to ensure our local community has quality healthcare for years to come. His legacy continues on in his daughter, Bonnie, who continues to serve as an integral part of the board as she works to further the mission. Here’s a look at the rich history the Foundation has as it continues to serve Brevard County!

Photos through the Years

Brevard Heart Foundation Timeline

1957

Due to the inaccessibility of health insurance to cover cardiac care, the William H. Hodgman estate provided funds to pioneer care for these patients when the local community was in need.

1958

The original group was chartered as Brevard Heart Association, Inc by the founder, Dr. Jack T. Bechtel, MD.

1965

The Foundation name changed to Brevard Heart Loan Fund before evolving in purpose and finally being renamed Brevard Heart Foundation in April.

1965

Grants for nursing seminars and trainings were provided by the foundation for continuing education of nurses.

1967

Dr. Ralph E. Balch, MD, a Foundation director, passed away, leaving a sizeable bequest in his will to the Brevard Heart Foundation that allowed for further development of healthcare education

1968

On October 26, the Foundation sponsored the first pacemaker implant at Brevard Hospital. This included the training of the doctors and nurses, leading to many lifesaving implants.

1969

Dr. Eugene Tubbs, MD suggested giving grants to medical students having a difficult time staying in medical school due to financial challenges.

1970

The first scholarships, totalling $2000, were given to local medical students to support their education.

1989

Nursing scholarships were added to the scholarship program! This also led to the beginning of the “Nancy Meisenheimer Nursing Scholarship Award,” named after a dedicated nurse who served in Brevard County.

1999

A $180,000 grant from the Katherine H. Uhler estate helped to expand the scholarship program to serve more students.

2001

The Dr. Jack T. Bechtel, MD scholarship award was created in honor of the Foundation’s founder, to be given to a select medical student.

2004

The scholarship program expanded again to add Physician Assistant scholarships in recognition of the need for additional Physician Assistants in Brevard County. Since then, scholarships have also been given to students becoming Family Nurse Practitioners, Doctors of Nursing, and those earning a Bachelor’s in Nursing.

2014

Medical Transition Scholarships were added to the scholarship program, helping provide individuals with an opportunity to transition to a healthcare field from another area of study.

2017

The Foundation held its Diamond Anniversary Casino Night fundraiser, raising over $20,000 to continue strengthening the reach of the Foundation’s mission and development of the scholarship program.

2020

Scholarships went virtual for the first time as the Foundation recognized its twenty-one scholarship recipients!