Giving Deliberately: Kathy Briggs
"I just can't say enough good things about Children's Mercy," says Kathy Briggs. Her daughter, Elayna, and son, Ethan, both received care at the hospital. Elayna was followed for a VSD, a hole in her heart she was born with, which fortunately never caused her any problems. It was Ethan's issues with Crohn's disease that really solidified the Briggs family's relationship with Children's Mercy.
When Ethan was in the 9th grade, he began experiencing symptoms associated with Crohn's. He started taking medication to control flare ups and manage his condition, and had surgery to address an abscess while a senior in high school.
"Dr. William San Pablo and Ellen Carpenter were just wonderful," shares Kathy. "They stuck with us through everything and went above and beyond."
The "everything" Kathy describes began when Ethan decided he wanted to go away for college. A plan she admittedly wasn't very keen on at the outset.
Ethan went away to Baylor in Waco, TX, as a freshman, and Kathy's worst fears were realized. He was hospitalized three times within the first year.
"I finally just had to bring him home," says Kathy. "By that time he was over 18, I didn't know if Children's Mercy would see him, but I needn't have worried.
"I called and told them about his condition," she continues. "They were so compassionate and told me I 'had a history there.'
"The doctors called ahead to the emergency room and told me to bring him in."
Ethan was admitted in April and remained at Children's Mercy for nearly a month.
"By the time he came home from school in Texas, he was down to around 100 pounds," Kathy says. "That's extremely underweight for a young man nearly six feet tall."
While at Children's Mercy, Ethan received TPN nutrition therapy and gained his weight back. Incredibly, one of the GI doctors had been on staff at a hospital in Temple, Texas. He told Kathy about this hospital just 30 miles from Baylor with a more advanced GI care level Ethan could go to when he went back to school...which he did in the fall.
Ethan must have inherited his adventurous spirit from his mother. As part of her personal credo of "living what she believes," Kathy began going on mission trips to Mexico in 2010.
"I'm very involved in my church," Kathy explains. "These trips took us to some very poor areas in the suburbs of Juarez. At the time of my first trip there were concerns about the safety of being in Juarez," she says. "I began thinking of my own mortality and doing some very thought-provoking reading.
"I decided that I wanted to give deliberately. To give while I'm still alive and be very conscious of where my assets are going."
Kathy also decided she wanted to "bless and help people who had blessed and helped her family."
Children's Mercy was among the organizations she chose to support. Kathy has designated the hospital as a charitable beneficiary of her IRA.
"One of my favorite professors once likened our lives to a pebble thrown into a pond whose waves circle out touching others until they eventually touch the shore," Kathy says. "By giving to Children's Mercy I am casting my pebble out so that it will result in waves of blessings that will spread and touch families' lives through Children's Mercy."
Today, Ethan is just six hours short of completing his degree in Business. He's specializing in Management of Information Systems. Kathy takes great satisfaction in knowing her gift to Children's Mercy will help children and families who are in the same situation her family was in not so long ago.
"It really is paying it forward," she says. "So many people helped me, and I want to be in that chain of caring and compassion.
"And you don't have to be a millionaire to make a difference," Kathy says. "That's why the IRA option makes sense for me. It allows me to be responsible—and very deliberate—about where my contributions will go."