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Foundation gives $250K to Akron Children’s new Palliative Care Center

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Staff report


A $250,000 donation from The Magic of Michael Foundation will support Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s new Palliative Care Center.

The hospital’s pediatric palliative-care program works with children and their families to enhance quality of life and minimize suffering for patients with serious illnesses.

It provides not only medical care, but support for psychological, emotional, social, spiritual and educational issues that may contribute to suffering or interfere with healing, said Dr. Sarah Friebert, director of pediatric palliative care at Akron Children’s Hospital.

“When children suffer from chronic, complex or incurable illnesses, not only are they overwhelmed and scared, the rest of the family is, too,” Dr. Friebert said.

Palliative care makes a huge difference in the lives of children and families in the Mahoning Valley who are dealing with serious illnesses, Dr. Friebert said.

“Our palliative-care team goes where our patients are most comfortable, whether that be the hospital, outpatient clinic, home or school,” she said. “It’s not always easy for families to bring their children to the hospital or outpatient clinic setting with complicated medical equipment, especially when juggling work or taking care of other children.”

The Hirschbeck family of Poland created The Magic of Michael Foundation to honor the life of their son, Michael, who, at age 5, was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare neurological disease with no cure.

Michael was 27 when he died in 2014. John and Denise Hirschbeck’s eldest son, John, died of the same disease in 1993 when he was 8.

John Hirschbeck is a longtime Major League Baseball umpire.

“Michael handled his illness really well,” said his mother, Denise.

“He never gave up, and he always made the best of things. That’s why we established the Magic of Michael Foundation, to inspire, empower and provide hope for families enduring the ‘curveballs’ of life,” she said.

The Hirschbecks’ gift will be used to establish a fund that will go directly to patient and family care. It also will make it possible for Valley families to have the support of specialized care, which is not well-reimbursed by insurance, without the added stress of traveling to Akron, hospital officials said.

The Hirschbecks’ gift is part of a larger effort of the Vision for Our Valley’s Children campaign. The goal is to raise about $20 million toward Akron Children’s continued growth in the Valley, said JoAnn Stock, the hospital’s senior director of development.

For information about the campaign, call 330-746-9122.