Sometimes a simple sentence explains it all.
“We have our granddaughter because of this hospital.”
Different people have different reasons for becoming supporters of Johns Hopkins All Children’s, but for Mark and Patty LaPrade, their motive weighed in at a breathtaking 1 pound, 15 ounces – their granddaughter. She and the rest of the LaPrades, spent her first 75 days in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU.)
“Patty and I grew up in St. Petersburg; we’ve lived here our whole lives. We’ve even visited Johns Hopkins All Children’s over the years for the odd bump and scrape, but really, you have no idea what you have here right in your own backyard until you experience it first hand – until you really need this hospital to save a life,” explains Mark. “We, along with our daughter Tracie and son-in-law Steve, were on pins and needles the entire time our granddaughter was in the NICU ... and on our knees by the way: Praying. We were really blessed that we lived right here and that these facilities were available to us.
“The level of expertise, the incredible number of specialties they can handle ... and the facilities are all amazing. We are doing pediatric heart transplants, helping cancer patients, saving preemies, conducting child-related research, teaching physicians... Who else has that in Tampa Bay?”
Patty – who volunteers for the hospital (and works hard to recruit other volunteers!) – points out that just that morning she had spoken with a parent who had to travel from Fort Myers and faced several hours of seasonal traffic to bring their child here for surgery. “It’s a hidden gem and I’m not sure enough people really understand our good fortune,” she adds.
Mark – who is clearly passionate about Johns Hopkins All Children’s – can’t help but put on his Trustee hat when he speaks about the hospital. As a longtime successful business owner, Mark has offered his business expertise as part of the Foundation Board since not long after his granddaughter made her incredible recovery in our NICU in 2002. Taylor is now 13 and perfectly healthy.
“We’ve had the good fortune in our lives to serve for several Tampa Bay charities, and we’ve enjoyed them all, but we’ve never been as attached as we are to Johns Hopkins All Children’s,” says Mark. He currently serves as vice chair, so Mark has had years to examine the hospital inside out and he is as much a believer today as he was back in that NICU as a grateful grandparent. In fact, he believes strongly enough to have included the hospital in his estate planning.
“Becoming a Dream Builder just made sense to us,” Mark explains. “The personal satisfaction was key, and of course there are the tax benefits that come with estate planning, which helped make the decision. But I think the best thing you can do if you are thinking about becoming a Dream Builder is visit this hospital. Take a tour. Once you see – and have a real understanding of the miracles worked here every day – the decision is one of the easiest you will make.”
Mark and Patty have completed several “Live the Mission” events during their years with the hospital. (Live the Mission is a hands-on experience that allows participants to shadow physicians and staff.) One – just a few years ago – included a visit to the NICU, which is much larger and more advanced than the old facilities that once housed little Taylor in an incubator. Though they had seen it before, they remain impressed.
Certainly the bells and whistles have a tendency to impress many, but imagine their shock when one of the nurses walked up and asked how Taylor was doing. “It had been 11 years since we’d seen this nurse,” Mark says, shaking his head in disbelief. “Not only did she remember our faces and names, but she remembered having cared for our granddaughter more than a decade ago! If that doesn’t tell you something about the level of dedication and care being offered at this hospital every single day, I don’t know what will.”
Making the decision to become a Dream Builder can take some thought. A great first step is to talk to your financial planner and, contact the Foundation to schedule a tour at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. Find out how Johns Hopkins All Children’s is helping raise the next generation of healthy kids in Tampa Bay and beyond. If you have a special area of interest, we are more than happy to tailor a tour for you. We are accomplishing many things at the hospital – as Mark is excited to point out – but we can’t do it without philanthropic help. It’s as simple as calling your advisor and requesting a beneficiary designation form. No attorney is needed.
To find out more about becoming a Dream Builder, contact Lydia Bailey at Johns Hopkins All Children’s by calling (727) 767-8914.