Published onChildren's View
By Julieann Shanahan
My husband, Keven, and I wanted our philanthropy to reach as many people as possible. Giving to CHOP lets us have a positive effect on so many children locally and, through scientific research, even globally.
We started by supporting gene therapy research focusing on cystic fibrosis because I learned I was a carrier when I was pregnant with our first child. Cystic fibrosis is a difficult disease to address, as it involves several mutations in one gene. We want to make a positive impact, and this research could even help with other recessive gene diseases that can significantly impact duration and quality of life.
After the 2008 economic downturn, we were concerned about the strains families experience when caring for children under financial duress, and we became interested in child abuse prevention. A few years later, our daughter had a catastrophic treadmill accident and sustained nine surface-area skin wounds. We realized if we’d been in a different economic situation, we wouldn’t have been able to provide the substantial at-home care she needed. Now we also focus on the social determinants of health and the equitable distribution of healthcare — because you can’t control the circumstances you’re born into, and children often face many challenges beyond their control.
We chose CHOP because it’s big enough to have the wherewithal to shepherd substantial gifts and build long-term relationships. When you give to other large institutions, sometimes it can feel like your money goes into a black hole — but that doesn’t happen at CHOP. We especially value the close, meaningful relationships we’ve developed over the last 14 years with lead investigators and physicians.
We’re interested in immediate intervention and long-term impact, and through CHOP, we’ve been able to focus on both. That’s why we’ve taken this unorthodox strategy of community support and medical research in tandem — a path we didn’t originally anticipate. If you have an idea or a passion, CHOP collaborates with you to reach your goals and touch more children’s lives. It’s important to the organization that both parties feel the relationship is successful.
For many donors, it takes a medical crisis in their own family to get them to give. At CHOP, there are so many families facing catastrophic events — and I’d love for people to consider how they could have a meaningful impact without a catastrophe in their lives. You could make a difference right now.