Racing for Zilber Family Hospice


Great Aunt Dee Ragalie holding baby Santino.

Triathlete raises support for hospice care in memory of her mother

It’s a celebration of life that is felt by everyone who visits the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association Zilber Family Hospice, located in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Known for providing compassionate end-of-life care to patients, the hospice plays host to many precious family moments that are cherished long after their loved one passes away. This is true for the family of Joan Davis, who spent her final days at Zilber hospice in February 2013, but not before celebrating the birth of her first great grandchild, Santino.

“The nurses made a point to congratulate our mom on this milestone,” said Dee Ragalie, Joan’s daughter. Santino was born on February 14 – one day before Joan passed away, surrounded by her family.

“We’re so lucky to have the connection with Zilber hospice,” said Dee, whose brother Glenn Ragalie, MD, has served as the hospice medical director for the past seven years.

Dee described her mom as a hardy soul, who often traveled with her to triathlons across the country. Racing for 29 years, Dee has run 305 triathlons, the Hawaiian Ironman, several half Ironman and sprint distance events.

“When I crossed the finish line at the Iron Man event in Hawaii, my mother was the first one I called,” said Dee, who wanted her mom to know she finished the race.

In September 2012, doctors discovered a spot of cancer on Joan’s lung before she underwent hip replacement surgery. The cancer spread to her liver. Joan’s journey led to her last days at Zilber hospice which, according to Dee, her mother referred to as the “five-star hotel to heaven.”

“The care was phenomenal. They take care of your loved one and you. Everyone knows your name – it was just a beautiful experience,” said Dee.

Inspired to give back to Zilber hospice, Dee is raising awareness of hospice care where personal care really makes it more of a warm experience as one passes on.

“I wanted to have a cause for my racing. And it makes it more rewarding. Racing in that shirt promoting Zilber hospice…it’s about her,” explained Dee, who is training for the USAT National Championship. For the first time, the event will be held in Milwaukee on August 10 and 11.

Consisting of USAT’s two signature amateur races — the Olympic-Distance National Championships and the Sprint National Championships — the two-day Age Group Nationals is USAT’s largest national championship event. Dee will be promoting Zilber Family Hospice between now and the event to friends and family. To make a gift, please visit

“When life gets hard, places like Zilber hospice provide comfort to families as they are losing a loved one. It’s an honor to be part of a facility like Zilber Family Hospice,” she said.

Also, you have an opportunity to support Aurora Visiting Nurse Association and have fun! The Aurora VNA inaugural golf outing will be held Monday, July 29 at Chenequa Country Club. All proceeds will support hospice services, pediatric and adult home care. These specialized services help more than 15,000 women, men and children throughout eastern Wisconsin each year. Golf packages are priced at $400 a person and include golf, lunch, dinner and a special program.

PrintTo register for the Charity Golf Classic, please call Judi Strout at 414-615-5935.


About Tyler Curtis

Tyler Curtis is the Donor Communications Specialist with Aurora Health Care Foundation. Ms. Curtis develops feature articles that showcase Aurora’s programs and services and promote the organization’s commitment to the health and wellness of patients in the communities where we serve.
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One Response to Racing for Zilber Family Hospice

  1. Lauren says:

    Go Dee! I have known you “forever” from racing. Way to give back. Lauren Jensen

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