Why We Give: Mary and Mike Stetzel

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Chase Satterthwaite, Huntington, Ind., and his family visit the Wells Center for Pediatric Research at Riley Hospital for Children

The past few years have been filled with difficult experiences for Mike and Mary Stetzel of Warren, Ind.: learning that their 12-year-old grandson Chase Satterthwaite had a cancerous tumor behind his eye; comforting his brothers while he underwent intense treatment; and, preparing them for the shocking change in Chase’s appearance after proton radiation therapy. “Please just give him love and don’t say anything,” Mary Stetzel remembers telling Chase’s brothers. “His head was completely swollen. The side of his face where they’d done the treatments was a deep purple. He was unrecognizable.” 

Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health oncologist Terry Vik, M.D., led Chase through successful treatment for his rare sarcoma. 

Once the worst part of Chase’s battle was over last fall the Stetzels’ gratitude compelled them to help other children facing similar cancers. “We are farmers. All our income comes in at one time,” explains Stetzel. “As soon as I realized we were going to make it through the year just fine, I told my husband, ‘This is the amount I want to give.’” 

The Stetzels decided to direct their gift to support Dr. Karen Pollok’s team in the Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Riley Hospital’s lab research facility. They brought Chase, along with his brothers and his parents, Rod and Tiffany Sattherthwaite, into Dr. Pollok’s lab so they could look through the microscope and see how the investigators are working on better treatments for sarcomas like Chase’s. “They were so good to him,” Stetzel says. “Each one of them made contact with Chase. When we left, he was so glad he had come.”

Stetzel says it was “beyond impressive” to see the scientific work that their donation supports. “When they were explaining the cost of different machines and things, I looked up at my husband and thought, ‘We did a good thing.’” They now plan to donate every year. “It’s just something I have to do,” Stetzel explains. “I don’t want another child to go through this. Not another single child. If what we gave helps even a tiny bit, that’s what I want to do.”

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