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Gift Planning

Our Only Struggle Was Cancer

LaurenBy Roberta Harding

"Your child has leukemia."

Those were the words my husband, Brad Bradley, and I heard from an oncologist 500 miles away on July 30, 2010. My soon-to-be 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, who also has Down syndrome, was two days away from returning home from her summer visit with her dad when a raging ear infection, rash and temperature of 104 caused a trip to a pediatrician and an immediate referral to the children's hospital.

After we heard the news of her leukemia, my first visions were of the girls in my elementary school years ago who died from leukemia when it was an automatic death sentence. I felt like I was floating above our kitchen table watching myself. This could not really be happening. But it was.

We went to be by her side and offer what comfort we could. After two weeks at a small children's hospital with four oncologists, we made the nerve-racking drive back home with a child who had no immune system, was nauseated, cried in pain every time she walked or used the bathroom, and was just generally miserable.

In the Right Place
Our first visit to Children's Mercy Oncology Clinic was overwhelming. We knew we were in the right place, however, considering Children's Mercy has one of the leading pediatric cancer programs in the country, with:

  • 2,000 children a year treated by 20 oncologists and scores of nurses;
  • 40 inpatient beds;
  • a bustling outpatient clinic;
  • a special bone marrow transplant unit; and
  • researchers involved in all the clinical trials available to kids.

But still … we felt a bit lost. Although glad to be home, I was scared of losing the security of Lauren being an inpatient with constant monitoring. I worried about infections and low platelets, and I monitored her constantly for fever and petechial spots. After the first few visits to the clinic, we were in the routine; the staff knew us, and Lauren was feeling a bit better.

Years Later…
Two years and four months later, Lauren is done with treatment and her port is gone. She loves Dr. Gamis, nurse practitioner Joy, and her very favorite nurses Darla, Kara, Kathleen and Pattie. She "inventories" her oncology buddies every day and talks about them.

It's been a long journey with lots of port pokes, shots in the thighs, nausea, countless IV chemo treatments, 23 lumbar punctures, a few inpatient stays and some scary days. But the oncology staff has been there to help us the whole way!

We Have Been Blessed
Not every family in the clinic has the same things we sometimes take for granted: reliable cars, good health insurance, financial stability, no younger children to care for, a fairly uncomplicated cancer journey and a home in the metro area. Our only struggle was cancer.

We have been blessed. And now, we give back so other families don't have to worry about medical bills and to support research for advances in treatment.

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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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