Koch Family Makes Annual Donations In Memory of Their 'Chunky Monkey'
Madison, Wisconsin - For third straight year, the Koch family came to American Family Children's Hospital bearing gifts.
Mandy and Dan Koch, along with their sons Samuel and Emerson and 13-month-old daughter Zuriahna, made the 40-mile trip from Argyle on Dec. 19 to make two important donations: A check to go toward pediatric epilepsy research at UW Health and 90 hand-made blankets that young patients will be able to cuddle up with during their stay at the children's hospital.
The financial donation comes from the Chunky Monkey Epilepsy Run, an event the family organizes each fall in Blanchardville in honor of Mathias Koch, who was 7 months old when he passed away on Nov. 14, 2010, from complications of severe epilepsy.
This year's race on Nov. 1 raised $15,000, and the Koch family donated half of those proceeds to American Family Children's Hospital.
"I just appreciate when we were here with Mathias, just the care that he received," said Mandy Koch, whose family donated the other half of the proceeds to research being done by Dr. Carl Stafstrom, who treated Mathias at American Family Children's Hospital and now practices at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. "We formed relationships with not only all the neurologists, but also a big handful of the nurses. It's an amazing place to be."
Another part of the Chunky Monkey event involves those soft, fleece tie blankets. This year's offerings left five large bins overflowing, raised the total number of blankets donated in the past three years to nearly 300 and provided a rainbow of color. There were blankets with pink polka dots and green-and gold ones that brought to mind the Green Bay Packers, while others had princesses or monkeys or Bucky Badger on them.
Mandy Koch made two of the blankets this year - 7-year-old Samuel and 6-year-old Emerson helped out for the first time. "That was wonderful," Mandy said.
"It's hard as a mom to lose your son, and to be able to give back in a positive way is just ... I don't know how to explain it if I didn't do something," Mandy told a gathering in the lobby of the American Family Children's Hospital, a reception that included a selection of holiday classics played by a trio of strings musicians - all three children of UW Health providers.
"I want Mathias' memory to live on, and I think through giving other children comfort and possibly a future treatment for epilepsy that will keep their families together, their sons and daughters with them, we're doing that."
Date Published: 12/23/2014