It was a lucky day for Springdale when, in 1991, a mutual friend introduced Helen Leopardi to Mike McMahan. She agreed to a hiking trip with him in Zion. “On that trip I was sold on Mike and on Zion,” she said. Mike had been wonderfully operating the Zion Medical Clinic and the Brian Head Clinic for several years by then, and Helen, a Nurse Practitioner, moved from Salt Lake to Springdale to join him, not just in business, but in marriage.
Helen was selected as Citizen of the Season for many reasons. She became involved in the Butch Cassidy 10K run at the beginning and she was the volunteer driving force behind the race from 1999 till 2003. Without her efforts, the race would never have continued and it would not be the impressive race it is now. Though she doesn’t spearhead the race anymore, she still assists and she continues to run. In 1999, she was working two jobs, serving on the Board of Adjustment, coaching her son as a ski racer, was put in charge of YAZ in its initial year and worked six days a week. She said she and her son, David, ‘never saw Mike in the winter.’ She was willing to take on that heavy load to ‘be an example and a motivator for my son’.
Helen’s son David graduates from Stanford University in June with a PhD in Mathematics. He will be doing his post doctorate research at Harvard. He recently was awarded, from amongst 1500 competitors, the National Science Foundation Fellowship Award. Additionally, he will teach mathematics in Copenhagen, Denmark. Helen (and Mike) were certainly good examples.
For many years, Zion Clinic was closed in the winter months while Mike ran the Brian Head clinic. Helen’s experience and qualifications allowed them to begin offering limited winter hours. In 2000, they were open ½ day a week. Now Helen opens the clinic 1½ days a week, which still gives her time for a Wednesday afternoon hike with a group of women friends who call themselves ‘Younger Next Year”.
Helen says “I really enjoy life. Living in Springdale has given me the opportunity to provide the kind of health care I’ve always idealized. I always feel rewarded when I can help people remain out of the hospital. I really get to know the people I treat, including watching my young patients grow into adults.”
The people she treats are very lucky to have such a caring, knowledgeable medical provider. Many of us consider her the ‘Angel of Zion Canyon’ because she goes so far and above the care given by most other care providers. We are fortunate to have the Clinic and the McMahans in our community.