$105,000 raised for charity formed by Jenks couple as memorial to daughter
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 3:16 AM
Read a previous story on Lauren’s
Visit the foundation’s website.
The foundation a Jenks couple founded just one year ago has raised about $105,000, most of which will go to help research and treat the condition that led to their daughter's death in July 2011.
Lauren Hilsheimer died at age 3 from complications of a heart surgery that was supposed to treat the multiple congenital heart defects that she was born with.
In December 2011, the Lauren Elise Memorial Foundation - formed by Mark and Kirsten Hilsheimer - received nonprofit status. This month, the foundation's board presented The Children's Hospital at St. Francis with a $45,000 grant. Another $45,000 will be given to the Children's Heart Foundation of Chicago.
That $90,000 in grants is three times as much as the foundation originally hoped to grant, said Mark Hilsheimer, who is the board chairman of the foundation.
At their early board meetings, the foundation established a goal of granting $30,000 in 2012, which Hilsheimer said he thought was an optimistic goal.
"Obviously, we are just very excited that we were as successful as we were and really blew that (goal) away," he said.
Hilsheimer said most of the money came from a charity dinner and auction, as well as a golf tournament this summer on the weekend that would have been Lauren's fifth birthday.
"Those two events were very successful," he said. "We're just very, very grateful and humbled by the attendance and the turnout and the support."
Hilsheimer said he and his wife put much thought into the organizations they would support because they felt they owed it to the memory of their daughter as well as the people who supported the foundation.
The reason they chose The Children's Hospital at St. Francis and the Children's Heart Foundation of Chicago was because the organizations would fulfill the two aspects they wanted to focus on: treatment and research.
The money granted to the Children's Heart Foundation is going toward a research project selected by some of the country's best pediatric cardiologists.
At St. Francis, most of the money will go toward a portable ultrasound machine so that children who are already in a fragile state will not have to be wheeled from the intensive care unit to a room with an ultrasound machine. The rest will go toward creating a conference room with video capabilities that will allow the hospital's heart staff to reach out to other hospitals to expand their knowledge, Hilsheimer said.
Hisashi Nikaidoh, the medical director and chief of pediatric cardiac and thoracic surgery at The Children's Hospital, said his facility is grateful for the support.
"Every bit of help, we certainly can use," Nikaidoh said.
The world-renowned surgeon - who used to work at the Children's Medical Center in Dallas, where the Hilsheimers gave birth to Lauren because it had one of the best children's cardiology programs - came to St. Francis about four years ago.
Nikaidoh said the St. Francis children's cardiology unit is growing in manpower and scope. The Hilsheimers will seek to continue the success of the foundation.
"We are committed to help them build a world-class facility," Mark Hilsheimer said. "We're going to work equally as hard if not harder every year from here on out."
Original Print Headline: Girl's memory lives on in philanthropy
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
About 240 people attended the charity dinner and auction hosted by the Lauren Elise Memorial Foundation in June. The foundation has raised about $105,000 during its first year in operation. Courtesy
Mark and Kirsten Hilsheimer stand with a picture of their 3-year-old daughter, Lauren Elise Hilsheimer, who died in 2011 after complications from heart surgery. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World