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!
Brevard Heart Foundation Timeline
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.
The original group was chartered as Brevard Heart Association, Inc by the founder, Dr. Jack T. Bechtel, MD.
The Foundation name changed to Brevard Heart Loan Fund before evolving in purpose and finally being renamed Brevard Heart Foundation in April.
Grants for nursing seminars and trainings were provided by the foundation for continuing education of nurses.
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
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.
Dr. Eugene Tubbs, MD suggested giving grants to medical students having a difficult time staying in medical school due to financial challenges.
The first scholarships, totalling $2000, were given to local medical students to support their education.
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.
A $180,000 grant from the Katherine H. Uhler estate helped to expand the scholarship program to serve more students.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scholarships went virtual for the first time as the Foundation recognized its twenty-one scholarship recipients!
Due to worldwide events, interest in healthcare careers increased and the world recognized its need for quality healthcare professionals. As a result, the Foundation saw an increased number of local students applying for scholarships!
The Foundation will be hosting a Spring 2022 Awards Gala to recognize local healthcare professionals and the amazing work they do for our Space Coast community! More information coming soon!