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Gift Planning

Candy Can Be Bad for Your Eyes

L'Eryn White and daughter Triniti outside the stadium at Missouri Valley College

L'Eryn White and daughter Triniti outside the stadium at Missouri Valley College

By Kimberly White

I know that one of the biggest compliments you can pay any business is being a repeat customer. I never thought about Children's Mercy that way—I never imagined returning over and over. But I have come to know, thanks to two of my three lovely children, just how fortunate we are to have Children's Mercy and to know the best possible care for our kids is right here in Kansas City.

In fact, I've learned a lot from kids, including how candy can be bad for your eyes. But that's getting ahead of the story. Let's start at the beginning.

In January 2004, my son, T.J., was a high school senior and headed for a sports scholarship to college. On this cold winter's day, T.J. had both a college football tryout and a basketball game. He didn't seem himself during the basketball game—not quite playing at his level—but since he has had asthma since birth, we assumed he may have been coming down with a cold.

The next day, he began to run a fever and nothing was effective in lowering it. I took T.J. to our local emergency room where they gave him some medications and sent us home.

The next day was scary. T.J. still had a fever and was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. We returned to the ER for a series of blood tests. T.J.'s long-time pediatrician, Dr. Rory Tompkins, was called and when he arrived at the ER, T.J. was in severe pain and becoming confused.

I will never forget what happened next: Dr. Tompkins told me, "He needs to go to Children's Mercy, NOW!" How could this be happening to my son—an amazing athlete who played and started on varsity in every sport offered to him in school?

When we arrived at Children's Mercy, the emergency team did all they could to make T.J. comfortable, and it was clear he would be staying for a while.

He had a very high fever, which they had told me "was not compatible with life," endured daily seizure episodes and was unable to walk. After what seemed like one hundred X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs and blood tests, the doctors figured it out: E. coli had settled in his sacroiliac (SI) joint and was spreading throughout his bloodstream. T.J. looked so weak and had lost 40 pounds. (This was the time of year when seniors signed their letters to play college football. But sadly, when word of his illness got out, none of the college coaches were interested in him.)

After two weeks in the hospital—for both of us, as I would not leave his side—and thanks to the Infectious Disease Department and the floor staff, my son recovered. T.J. had to learn to walk again, and came home with a peripherally inserted central catheter (PIC line) for a while. But I had my only son back.

Oh, and T.J. played college football after all—four years at Missouri Valley College. He also served in ROTC and graduated with honors with a double major. T.J. now serves his country as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

But that's not the end of my Children's Mercy story. Remember the candy?

Less than a year after T.J.'s experience, my daughter, L'Eryn, then 16, and I were attending an evening school party that featured the breaking of a piñata. L'Eryn was standing across the room when someone took a whack and a piece of candy flew out of the piñata—all the way across the room and hit her directly in the eye.

As an optician and someone who had experience with and confidence in Children's Mercy, I took one look and it was straight to ER for us. She had suffered a serious hemorrhage and was treated for a week before Dr. Scott Olitsky determined L'Eryn needed surgery to regain her eyesight. The surgery was a great success.

A year later, L'Eryn developed Optic Neuritis in that same eye and lost her eyesight again. She continued to play volleyball and basketball while not letting on about her lack of sight in one eye. (Again, this was college signing time and she was determined to avoid T.J.'s experience.) The Ophthalmology Department's Dr. Laura Plummer and Donna Knopke were our saving graces this time.

L'Eryn went on to Missouri Valley College where she played college volleyball and graduated this past May as a Student Scholar in athletic training and exercise science. L'Eryn's lively 4-year-old daughter has her mother's beautiful eyes!

We are among those many families who have been fortunate to have Children's Mercy there for us in more than one unexpected way. I can't say I am sorry to be a repeat customer.

We know that Children's Mercy makes miracles happen every day for children of all ages.

Learn How You Can Help
If you would like to support Children's Mercy through planned giving, contact Phil Watson at (816) 701-4339 or today at no obligation.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Children's Mercy a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Children's Mercy, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Kansas City, MO, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Children's Mercy or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Children's Mercy as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Children's Mercy as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Children's Mercy where you agree to make a gift to Children's Mercy and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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