Committing to a Cause: Gess Couple Donates to Hospice Every Wedding Anniversary

Dave and Emily Gess
Dave and Emily Gess

Dave and Emily (Atchison) Gess were married in October of 2008. That alone is not unusual; what is unusual is the fact that they wanted to include supporting a nonprofit organization as part of the wedding. Before they were married, both Dave and Emily had a grandfather who was served by Hospice of the Red River Valley. “I couldn’t imagine my grandpa not being at my wedding,” Emily explained.

It was tough to accept that neither of these men would be there as the plans for the wedding were coming together. Rather than simply grieve their loss, they decided to commemorate their beloved grandfathers at their wedding in a unique way.

They chose to make a donation to Hospice of the Red River Valley instead of putting party favors on the table for their guests. In place of the traditional party favor was a small table tent indicating their intentions. The emotional value Dave placed on their donation was evident. “It meant so much more to us than a little charm. We wanted to give back to an organization that has touched our lives,” Dave said.

Giving is something that the Gess’ want to make as a regular part of their lives. Not only did they decide to support Hospice of the Red River Valley the day of their wedding, they have decided to begin a tradition by making an annual donation on their anniversary in memory of their grandfathers. “This is one way we can develop good habits,” Dave said. That’s when Emily proudly stated, “Some day when we have children, we want them to realize that giving to charity is a normal part of our lives.”

They both talked about the fact that the dollar amount is not what matters. It really comes down to taking action and choosing to support something a person believes in. “If everyone gives a little, it goes a long way,” Emily shared. “Right now this is what we can do. As our income hopefully goes up, our giving can go up as well. If we can encourage just one person to give by our example, our gift goes that much further.”

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
In 1981, Hospice of the Red River Valley was founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality end-of-life care. We fulfill our nonprofit mission by providing medical, emotional, personal and spiritual care, as well as grief support to our patients, their families and caregivers during a tender time in life. Our staff helps those we serve experience more meaningful moments through exceptional hospice care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever a patient calls home. The organization serves more than 40,000 square miles in North Dakota and Minnesota, including in and around Bismarck, Detroit Lakes, Devils Lake, Fargo, Fergus Falls, Grand Forks, Lisbon, Thief River Falls, Valley City and many more communities. Hospice of the Red River Valley offers round-the-clock availability via phone, prompt response times and same-day admissions, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Contact us anytime at 800-237-4629 or


Return to the blog homepage →