Join Dr. Taunt at the McLaren Loves Lansing Event

Chip and Katie.

Katie and Chip.

Ask Kristine Kuhnert about her good friends from Haslett and the director of Ele’s Place – Capital Region will tell you that when she describes the attributes of Dr. Charles “Chip” Taunt, she could just as easily be talking about his wife, Katie.

“They are fabulous people,” Kuhnert said. “I think the best phrase for Katie and Chip is ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ Whether it’s professionally, or personally with their children, or with our community, they rise up every time. You’ll never hear Chip and Katie say, ‘I’m too busy,’ and they’re too busy much of the time.”
Chip has been a surgeon with Michigan Orthopedic Center since 2005 and a member of the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation board of trustees since 2012. Katie is a former biologist with the Environmental Protection Agency who is a stay-at-home mom. Together, the University of Notre Dame graduates are co-chairs of the inaugural McLaren Loves Lansing event that will be held at the Lansing Brewing Company on August 23.

The Foundation initially approached Chip and Katie about serving as co-chairs of its Annual Gala. But when it became clear their vision for the Gala was different from what the black-tie optional event has been in recent years, they were asked if they were interested in co-chairing a different annual event the Foundation had been thinking about creating.

“We had a vision for something that was more casual and maybe a little more high energy than the Gala,” Chip said. “We wanted to put together an event that provided you with entertainment, essentially from the minute you got there until it ended.”

Katie describes it as an effort to “cast the net in a different direction” when it came to engaging McLaren Greater Lansing supporters and prospective supporters who might not go to the Gala.

“A lot of people are just really busy and have school-age kids,” she said. “They don’t get a lot of free evenings, and when they do, they want to have fun in a causal setting. They want to be able to see their friends, mingle, and talk with people.” Chip added they were looking to co-chair a summertime event people could attend while wearing “shorts and flip flops.”

McLaren Loves Lansing, which will have a capacity of 600, will include five live musical acts, including Starfarm, and Whiskey Diski and the Barrel Boys, food served in a strolling manner, and micro-brewed beer. Everything featured will be from the Greater Lansing area.

“We want everyone to go and have fun and celebrate Lansing,” Chip said. “We’re really focused on everything being local. Local food. Local music. We’re not going to bring in acts from outside the area. Even Grand Rapids is too far away. We’re focusing on what is great about our own town.”

The construction of a new $450 million hospital will serve as a backdrop to the event. The health care campus will consolidate McLaren Greater Lansing and McLaren Orthopedic Hospital into one medical facility on land purchased from the Michigan State University Foundation in its University Corporate Research Park. It will include a nine-story, 240-bed hospital, medical services building, and cancer center. The buildings are scheduled to be completed by December of 2021 and the main hospital can be seen from Forest Road, Collins Road, and the north- and south-bound lanes of highway 127 as it begins to take shape and make its way skyward.

“I’m excited for the integration of our orthopedic hospital back into the main hospital,” Chip said. “Once we get through the transition, I think it will be easier for physicians, staff, and patients to have one central site. Having everything in one place should make things more convenient for patients and their families.”

Improving the lives of families is something Chip and Katie excel at, according to Kuhnert, whose husband Scott was killed in an automobile accident in 2014 when the car he was driving was hit by a car driven by a drunk driver. The accident left Kuhnert a widow at age 45, and her three sons without a father at the ages of 15, 13, and 11.
One of the first things the Taunts did following Scott’s death was to have his personal belongings retrieved from the car he was driving when the accident occurred in Isabella County. In 2016, Chip took Kuhnert’s boys on a ski trip to Colorado, something they had talked about doing with their father.
He has also helped Kuhnert’s oldest son, Holden, in the college selection process, let the middle one, Maxwell, job shadow him, and spent time with the youngest one, Quinn, on those days he has had a particularly tough time missing his father.

“I could go on and on about everything they have done for my family, and there are a hundred other families that could do the same thing,” Kuhnert said. “And nobody knows about it because they are very, very humble about what they do. They are very quiet about the impact they have in the community.”
Coaching youth ice hockey and lacrosse is something Chip enjoys discussing.

He and Katie first met Kuhnert when Quinn was a member of an ice hockey team that included the Taunt’s oldest son, C.J.
Although Chip had limited experience coaching hockey, Kuhnert said he dove into his duties, reading numerous books about the sport and “surrounding himself with people who could help him in areas that maybe were not his strongest.”

Chip is a straight shooter who can come off as a bit gruff, but Kuhnert said he was great at “meeting the players at their level,” often offering them Skittles during a game.
“He was honest, had integrity, and put the best interests of the kids first,” Kuhnert said. “He held them accountable and they worked hard, but they had fun.”
Chip and Katie say hockey “chose” their three boys and them, while Chip “introduced” their sons to lacrosse, a sport he played from grade school through high school.
Chip calls lacrosse a “great game”, and said it was just starting to gain a foothold in the area when he and Katie moved to Haslett in 2005. He first got involved coaching a team which included C.J., who is now 16, and that led to him becoming president of the Haslett Lacrosse Club several years ago. Katie handles the organizational duties for the club comprised of four boys’ teams and three girls’ teams.

She is also very involved in the Taunt Family Foundation, which awards annual scholarships to students attending Marian High School and Brother Rice High School, each located in Bloomfield Hills.

When it comes to philanthropy, the Taunts have endowed a student scholarship at Notre Dame, supported McLaren Greater Lansing since 2008, and regularly make gifts to several local non-profit organizations, including the Foundation for Haslett Schools, Greater Lansing Food Bank, Davies Project, and Loaves & Fishes Ministries. In addition, they recently made a leadership gift to McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation’s Campaign for Care, a $10 million capital campaign to support the new health care campus.
“It’s important to give back to the community and to the things that are important to you,” Katie said. “That’s how I was raised. I had very philanthropic parents who were always involved in the town I grew up in and supported a variety of causes.”

Education is an area the Taunts are very passionate about.

Chip says the “route to opportunity for young people is to further their education,” and he’s not just talking about medical-related degrees. He points out there are a “million” ways to become educated and lists the skilled trades as one area where there is a tremendous need for qualified and hard-working individuals.

“That’s what really sustains the world,” he said of education. “Teaching young people how to do something so they can carry on and be successful, and then teaching the next person. In both of our experiences, our parents were extremely supportive of our educational endeavors so we are paying that forward, whether it’s through our own kids or to some scholarship recipients we don’t know. We’ve been very fortunate, so we want to share some of our good fortune with others.”

While McLaren Loves Lansing is designed to be a fundraising event, much of the Taunt’s focus is on attendees having fun while enjoying local music, food, and drink, and appreciating McLaren’s support of the Greater Lansing community.

“We’re celebrating that McLaren is making this commitment to this community by building this great new hospital,” Katie said. “It’s a big deal and we want to celebrate that.”
For more information about the McLaren Loves Lansing event, call (517) 975-7118 or click here.

If you would like to make a gift to support McLaren Loves Lansing, or a program, department, or unit at the hospital, please contact the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation at (517) 975-7100 or mglfoundation@mclaren.org, or visit mclaren.org/lansingfoundation.