St. Luke’s North Hospital–Smithville donates Care Van to Ruff family

Bob Graham, St. Luke’s North Hospital–Smithville auxiliary president, and Adele Ducharme, hospital president, gifted a Spirit of Spelman Care Van to Yvonne and Keith Ruff.

SMITHVILLE — St. Luke’s North Hospital–Smithville presented a Spirit of Spelman Care Van to the Ruff family of Smithville. Adele Ducharme, hospital president and CEO, and Bob Graham, auxiliary president, gifted the van to the Ruff family on behalf of St. Luke’s.

A December car crash left 16-year-old Kolby Ruff of Smithville in critical condition. Kolby’s parents, Yvonne and Keith Ruff, were in attendance to receive the van.

“Kolby is a sophomore this year, and took second place in two events at the state swim meet,” said his mother, Yvonne. “On Christmas Day, we had a great morning. He took off to visit his girlfriend down the road, when his car crashed just a few miles from our home. He sustained many broken bones, internal injuries and a severe traumatic brain injury. Everything is healed except for his brain; he remains minimally conscious. He’s currently in an in-patient rehab facility in Englewood, Colorado, and we are confident he will move onto an outpatient treatment program once he’s had a bit more time to heal.”

Before the van donation, the family matriarch said the family was concerned about wheelchair transportation during her son’s outpatient treatment, and thought maybe he’d have to remain in Colorado.

“Being wheelchair accessible, this van will allow Kolby to come home to Smithville for his outpatient therapy in the Kansas City area. His friends haven’t seen him since the accident, and they will be able to come visit — all of which will help his brain ‘wake up’.”

Father Keith Ruff added, “This van will allow us to be back together as a family.”

The Spirit of Spelman Care Van is a free, community service funded by St. Luke’s North Hospital Auxiliary, St. Luke’s North Hospital medical staff and community contributions.

Equipped with wheelchair accommodations with lift and lockdown, volunteer drivers once transported approximately 4,000 patients around 90,000 miles each year to inpatient and outpatient appointments and procedures. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Care Van program was retired in 2020.

“As president and CEO of St. Luke’s North Hospital, I am pleased and humbled to make this gift to the Ruff family,” said Ducharme. “I am sure that this van will assist Kolby in his healing process and offer him ease of mobility.”

For updates on Kolby’s condition, visit “Kolby Ruff – Kolby Strong” on Facebook. There, the family shares updates along with a link to a video his friends created for him that contains footage of Kolby swimming and skiing.

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