Our Family’s Double Dose of Riley Compassion

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The Kemper Family, Muncie, Ind.

In September of 1999 we were blessed with boy/girl twins and were simply overjoyed. It was six months later that we began to be concerned that Mallory's eyes were not tracking. We were referred to Dr. Daniel Neely in the Ophthalmology department at Riley and our journey began. We were relieved that she could see but had limited vision so an MRI was ordered. The results were devastating! She had experienced a pre-birth stroke and our lives were forever changed. Our first of many visits with Riley Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Meredith Golomb was scheduled and we began to adjust to the many challenges we would now face.

In August of 2001 Mallory’s twin brother, Payton, began crying in pain so we took him to our local ER. A CAT scan was done. We were told that he had a brain tumor and that an ambulance was waiting to transport us to Riley for immediate brain surgery. We were numb sitting in that ambulance wondering how our family could receive such traumatic news again. As we pulled up to the ER we will never forget seeing Riley Pediatric Neurosurgeon Dr. Joel Boaz on the curb, waiting for us. He glanced at the scan and said he thought it was a brain abscess but wouldn't know until he got Payton to surgery. It was an abscess, and Payton needed to spend the next 30 days at Riley on 24 hour antibiotic IV, and another 30 days on IV's after returning home. 

After a few days he required a follow-up surgery and began making progress. Dr. Boaz's care and attention was unfaltering. I remember seeing him late one night at McDonald’s downstairs buying a Happy Meal because he wanted to give the enclosed toy to a patient. He made a scary situation a bit less frightening. (After follow up visits and a few appointments with Dr. Darlene Kardatzke, Payton made a full recovery.)

Today the twins are 16. Mallory continues coming to Riley year after year and EVERY time Dr. Golomb encourages us to focus on what she CAN do instead of what her limitations are. In the fall of 2015 the kids began high school and Mallory was enrolled in the Together We Can Program. Mornings are filled with academics and most afternoons the students make crafts. It was during these sessions that Mallory's love for sewing was discovered. The teacher, Ms. Creech, asked if the class would like to participate in the Riley Dance Marathon at their school. She asked Mallory if she wanted to sew puppy pillows for children after surgery. Mallory was very excited about the project because she too was a "Riley Kid." She sewed dozens of puppies, handing them off to classmates who stuffed them and added the faces. Mallory's Mutts were born! In July, while at an appointment with Dr. Golomb, Mallory delivered 30 pillows to share with patients. Once again Dr. Golomb began offering suggestions as to how Mallory might turn her skill and love of sewing into a career path. She has been Mallory's cheerleader since that first visit when she was 6 months old.

We feel certain that the love, care, and compassion we experienced at Riley Hospital is not unique to us, but our story is "our journey" and very personal. How fortunate we are to have Riley Hospital for Children within our reach!

Mindy Kemper

Mindy Kemper and her husband Tom live in Muncie, Ind. and are the parents of Mallory and Payton. They own Com Net, LLC., an answering service. They enjoy helping with Together We Can, the Special Needs Prom, Best Buddies and entering their ’68 Camaro in local car shows.

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