O'Connell Family portrait

The O'Connell Family's Story

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 Endowment: Support for CHKD Grows with the Family

Kevin O'Connell was a young single professional when he was first inspired to support CHKD. At the time, he could never anticipate how his own future family would depend on the life-saving resources the hospital provides.

In the early 1990s as a young trainee for Merrill Lynch, Kevin participated in an annual phone-a-thon to benefit CHKD. "My role was to call people who had donated in the past and ask them to give again," he says. "I learned about the difference CHKD was making in our community through the stories those donors shared with me year after year. Seeing how widespread and diverse the impact was made me want to do even more."

Kevin's business partner, Mark Fendrick, had a similar experience and together the became increasingly involved in supporting the hospital through volunteering, making personal gifts, and establishing an endowment to benefit the CHKD child abuse program.

In 2002, Kevin's relationship with CHKD changed forever when his first child, Madeleine, was born a month early, weighing only 4 pounds.

"Our pediatrician told us that Maddy should be transferred to CHKD's neonatal intensive care unit. It was a shock, but we knew we would be getting the best possible care for her there."

Spending time at CHKD with his new baby only reinforced the drive that Kevin and his wife Jeannette felt to give back. As the family grew to include three more children, their involvement with CHKD grew as well. The O'Connells made annual donations and participated in fundraising events as a family. Maddy and her sister McKenzie even raise money for CHKD at their birthday parties each year instead of accepting gifts.

When Kevin and Jeannette's son Phillip was struck by a car while chasing a foul ball at a Peninsula Pilots game, the emergency department doctors at Riverside Regional Medical Center recommended transfer to CHKD.

"Because kids are growing and heal differently, they felt Phil should be treated by doctors who specialize in pediatric trauma," says Kevin. "We didn't hesitate to put our trust in CHKD once again."

Phillip's left foot had been trapped by the car's tire and would require emergency surgery. Dr. George Hoerr, a pediatric plastic surgeon at CHKD, operated on Phillip that night, meticulously reconstructing the top of his foot. "Dr. Hoerr was able to fix everything in that one surgery. It was remarkable, and we are so grateful," says Kevin.

Today, Kevin can simply show a photo of his healthy family when asked by he supports CHKD. "When I first became involved, I never thought about having kids of my own and how supporting this organization might benefit me, but it happened," says Kevin. " It is an amazing place, and it's my hope that everyone would see the value -- whether or not they think they will ever need it."

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