The Otero Junior College Foundation and OJC Nursing Department will host the sixth annual Healthcare Gala, 6 p.m. May 6 in the OJC Rizzuto Banquet Room. This event benefits OJC students pursuing careers in healthcare fields through the Kay Mahoney Memorial Scholarship fund.

Kristi Hartless, keynote speaker, was raised in La Junta. As a senior in high school, she excelled academically and in sports and was able to earn a scholarship to play college softball.

However, before Hartless started college, tragedy struck. 

“A horseback riding accident left me in a coma with a severe head injury, and I was paralyzed from the mid-chest down as a result of a crushed spinal cord. I was not expected to live through the night and when I did come out of the coma, I was filled with so much uncertainty,” she said.

Hartless will share her inspirational story of survival and how she has navigated the last 25 years of her life at the Healthcare Gala. It is her hope that her story will help in supporting students in OJC’s healthcare field through scholarships.  

“Remember, tickets are available for anyone who would like to attend: from community members to business leaders to direct health caregivers,” said Dillon Martin, OJC foundation director.

Included in the evening will be a full dinner, an auction, basket raffles, speakers and more.

Tickets for the event are $25 and are available for pre-purchase only until May 3. No tickets will be sold at the door. To reserve a ticket, contact Martin at 384-6890 or

“This is going to be a great evening that we are looking forward to," said Amanda Clerkin, OJC nursing director. "This night is not only fun for attendees but will provide scholarships to OJC students pursing a heath related degree.”