Our Donor Family
Paying tribute to Mom
“Mom always cared about kids, she was obsessed with them,” says Richard Mukensturm, a resident of Adrian, Michigan and father to 16-year-old Ashley, a junior at Adrian High School.
When Richard’s mother passed away after battling breast cancer, he decided to remember her spirit and love for children in a way that she would have wanted.
The Mukensturm family gave a gift of $10,000 toward pediatric cancer research efforts at the University of Michigan Health System.
The funds were directed to Dan Wechsler, M.D., associate professor, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and director, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Training program, whose research interests include studying brain tumors and neuroblastoma, and the development of acute myeloid leukemia.
As a thank you for such a generous gift, the University of Michigan Health System invited Richard, his wife Beverly and their daughter Ashley, for a visit to Dr. Wechsler’s laboratory and the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Richard said he was especially struck by how well Mott Children’s Hospital faculty and staff not only take care of their patients, but how well they take care of the families too.
“I was really impressed with the attention Mott gives to the siblings of their patients. The playrooms are such a good idea,” says Richard. “It’s so important that brothers and sisters can play together even while one is sick.”
Only a few months after the family’s visit to Mott, Beverly died suddenly, when she had a health episode while driving. Once again, Richard felt the pain of loss, and wanted to do something in rememberance of his wife…Ashley’s mom.
Richard and Ashley decided to donate again to pediatric cancer research, once more directing $10,000 to Dr. Wechsler’s research laboratory in order to give kids and families fighting cancer at Mott Children’s Hospital some hope.
“My mom always said she wanted to do more—and I love kids—it’s a great cause,” says Ashley.”
“We wanted to remember Bev in a different way,” says Richard. “And we couldn’t donate money to anything more important. Research benefits everyone. It gives hope to patients who are sick right now, and is a step toward curing more people in the future.”
More than two years later, Dr. Wechsler continues to give the Mukensturm's updates on his findings, and recently spent an afternoon showing Richard and Ashley around his laboratory.
For the Mukensturms, the pain of their loss will never quite go away. However, “doing something good, and making a difference helps us feel at peace,” says Richard.
“You can’t just sit around and feel bad, feel frustrated about cancer or about losing loved ones,” says Richard. “Giving is hope, it makes you feel good.”
Get Inspired: See how you can help pediatric cancer research or other programs at Mott through philanthropy by visiting “Ways of giving” at www.med.umich.edu/mott.