holiday program

Once again, annual event inspires employees

The Employee Holiday Program stresses the importance of strong partnerships with physicians and a commitment to patients.

MINNEAPOLIS - It’s a Medtronic tradition that many say is a reminder of why they come to work every day.

“It brings everything we do to life,” said Amanda Bartschenfeld, a nine-year Medtronic employee.  “It’s very inspiring.”

Employees paused Friday for the annual Employee Holiday Program – an event that honors patients and doctors and leaves employees with a greater understanding of how their work plays a role in improving lives. 

The event, started by Medtronic founder Earl Bakken, celebrated its 56th year.

people watching program

An annual tradition

For 56 years, the Employee Holiday Program reminds employees the difference medical technology makes in the lives of patients.

Bakken, now 92 years old, sent a letter to the company that was read aloud at Friday’s program. In it, he told employees to “keep doing what you’re doing — believing in our Mission and in each other.”

Beyond Bakken’s annual letter, employees heard several stories from guests. People from across the country shared their personal health journeys and how medical technology has made a difference.

Andrew “AJ” Jones, from Connecticut, described his heart disease diagnosis at age 23. Jones, a fitness model, was active and fit, but ultimately needed a heart transplant in 2016.

“A Medtronic device kept me a live until I received my new heart,” he told the audience. “I am full of gratitude.”

Max Page speaks to Medtronic

Inspiring stories

Guests spoke to Medtronic and shared how medical technology made a difference in their lives. 

Those invited to participate in the program are often joined by the doctors who treated them. The company stresses to its employees — through events like the Holiday Program — the importance of strong partnerships with physicians and a commitment to patients.

“This is one of the most important days on the Medtronic calendar,” Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told those in attendance. “Hearing these stories unifies us around our company’s Mission — to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.”

In addition to Jones, this year’s event included pediatric diabetes patient Tia Geri, spine patient Chris Arnold, stroke patient Debbie Matravers, and bariatric surgery recipient Sabrina Tempesta.

Perhaps the most recognizable person to speak was 12-year old Max Page, an actor from California.  Max is known for his role as Darth Vader in a 2011 Volkswagen commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, but he spoke about his experience undergoing heart surgery and his reliance on medical technology. 

“I will always need you,” Max told those in attendance. “And I plan to live a long life."

Employees like Amanda believe hearing from patients is a reminder of the important work Medtronic does everyday. 

“This program reinvigorates me,” said Bartschenfeld. “I’m excited to get back to work.”