Philanthropist and photojournalist Lynn Campion will ride as grand marshal in Hailey’s Fourth of July Parade.
“It’s humbling to be selected by a community that has been so good to me for so many years,” Campion said.
Campion’s family foundation, called the Deer Creek Fund, has supported good causes in the Wood River Valley since 1994, providing $4 million for construction of the Campion Ice House in Hailey.
“I think the Ice House has been a success,” said Campion, 73, who lives north of Hailey in Deer Creek canyon with her husband, the painter Theodore Waddell. “Ketchum had the YMCA and we knew Hailey needed something badly, so I got involved with thinking about what we could do.”
Campion grew up in Colorado, where she learned to ride horses, eventually winning seven amateur national cutting horse championships. She also worked as a professional photographer and came to the Wood River Valley in the 1970s. She is the author of two books, “Training and Showing the Cutting Horse” and “Rodeo.”
After arriving in the valley, she worked as a ski instructor and served as a volunteer firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician for the Ketchum Fire Department. She was responsible for bringing the first advanced EMT training to the valley during the early 1980s.
Campion’s great-grandfather was a fire chief in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I think he must have smiled on me for becoming a firefighter, but my real interest was working in an ambulance as an EMT. I felt that what we had wasn’t enough for our community, that we needed to be better trained, so I looked into how to make it happen,” she said.
Campion has stepped down as chairwoman of the family foundation, which was created by her and her first husband, Tom Campion, and their two daughters in 1996 with funding from The Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, a prior family foundation that has since been dissolved. She said her two daughters, Ashley and Berit Campion, are now involved in the family tradition of giving back to the community.
The Deer Creek Fund has supported a broad spectrum of community services in and around Blaine County, with a focus on “meeting basic human needs, promoting self-sufficiency, relieving suffering and improving the quality of life.”
In 2015 alone, grants totaling $76,000 were distributed to area nonprofits, including The Advocates, Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley (now Mountain Humane), The Hunger Coalition, Blaine County Recreation District, Caritas Chorale, College of Southern Idaho, Community Library Association, Girls on the Run of the Wood River Valley, Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley, Lee Pesky Learning Center, National Forest Foundation, Sage School, Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Trailing of the Sheep Cultural Center.
“We give fairly quietly, but many people don’t realize how much nonprofit organizations need to be supported,” Campion said. “Funding doesn’t just fall off the trees. I can’t say how important it is to give back to the community and it doesn’t matter the amount.”
Campion founded the Little Black Dress Club of the Wood River Valley. The women’s philanthropic club invites donors with as little as $100 to make a difference in the community.
“The reason I started the club is so that people can learn about giving and know that small donations mean a lot also,” she said.
Campion and Waddell have authored several ‘Tucker” children’s books that feature illustrations of one of their Bernese mountain dogs. She said Waddell has also authored two books about his early life in Montana, where they live part-time.
Campion, who is soft-spoken and generally avoids publicity, said she will have to get up her nerve to ride in a coach during the parade.
“My husband Ted said he will join me because he knows I will need the emotional support. Oh, and I hope to bring my dogs also,” she said.