Good News: Lending a Hand

Arctic Spas of Utah supports families battling rare medical conditions

Mark Kristensen’s son, Matt, had a rare genetic disease and a lot of unique needs not covered by insurance. That’s why, in 2001, Kristensen and his friend Steve Stauffer started the Angel’s Hands Foundation, with the mission to improve the quality of life for individuals living with rare and undiagnosed medical conditions.

AHF started with 10 families in Utah and has grown to aid more than 600 families across the state who represent more than 200 rare medical conditions. The organization assists with medical expenses; travel to specialists and national conferences on various diseases; and provides social outings for families.

Kristensen says they had a spa for Matt and knew it could help others with muscular and skeletal issues. When he and Stauffer started AHF, they began looking for a spa dealer to partner with and provide spas to the families the organization served, since insurance will not cover them. Kristensen knew someone who worked for Arctic Spas of Utah in Salt Lake City and got in touch with owner Christian Staples.

“We knew immediately he was a man who understood and we would love to work with,” Kristensen says. “Christian made a deal with us to provide spas [at a discount] far better than anything we could get from anyone else. Now, about 20 to 30 AHF families have spas because of his generosity.”

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In addition to providing spas to the organization at a discount, in 2005 Arctic Spas of Utah began donating a spa to be auctioned at the annual AHF gala. That particular donation has raised approximately $90,000 for the organization over the last 15 years.

Kristensen says his appreciation for Christian and Meghan Staples goes beyond their generosity to AHF — back to the first spa his family bought from Arctic Spas of Utah. The hot tub they’d been using with Matt had gotten too run down to use or fix.

“He’d been without one for a couple of months, and he missed our time each night talking and looking at the stars,” Kristensen says. “Our first Arctic Spa was delivered the first week of November 2002, and Matt passed away that December. We talked about dying and going to heaven while sitting in that spa. Those conversations are some of the most cherished memories in my life. All because [Christian] chose to share his success with our AHF family.”

“I believe that we all have a responsibility to help support people with a good cause,” Staples says. “Hearing the stories of these families really helps you to realize the blessings that we have and, for the most part, take for granted. Hot tub dealers really have no more or less responsibility versus anyone else. It is just as important for all of us to play a part in helping other people.”