The Chwalik Family Fisher House Story...The Reason I Run for Fisher House
Senior Master Sergeant Richard (Joe) Chwalik was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during a deployment to Afghanistan. But it was the birth of his son, Jeremy, that brought Fisher House into his life.
When Jeremy was born, the Chwaliks were a dual-military couple stationed in Ramstein, Germany. His mom, Erika, knew there were going to be complications when he was born, but not the extent. The base hospital wasn’t equipped to deal with Jeremy’s two congenital heart issues, a club foot, and Down syndrome. He needed specialty pediatric care that meant leaving his dad and brother in Germany, while he and his mom came back to the States for his medical treatment.
Within hours of his birth, Jeremy and his mom were on a military cargo plane headed to Washington, D.C. After settling Jeremy into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Erika headed to the Fisher House.
This would be the first of many stays at a Fisher House for the Chwalik family, as little Jeremy received treatment as a newborn, and again four years later when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“Since Jeremy’s birth five years ago, the Fisher House has been a saving grace when we least expected it,” said Erika. “Fisher House allows you to have a normal life in an abnormal circumstance.”
You can help military and veterans’ families, like the Chwalik’s, feel that sense of normality when they need it most, during a medical crisis. Having a son in the military gives new meaning to the importance of Fisher House. Five years ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon inWashington, D.C. , fundraising for the Fisher House Foundation and meeting the incredible people who have been served by this amazing organization. It was an immensely emotional and deeply satisfying experience. Not only did it give me another connection to my children...one who is a first responder and the other , a member of the U.S. military... but it gave me great pride to be able to contribute to our military families in my own way. I have visited the Fisher House at the Bay Pines V.A. Hospital...a home away from home for military families. It is a warm and welcoming environment to those who have to be away from their own home for an extended amount of time. Meals, books, beautiful rooms and sometimes an ear or a shoulder are always available.
I am counting on your support...not only for my running the NYC Marathon but for the reason I run.
Donate with confidence: Fisher House has received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator 15 years in a row and an A+ rating from CharityWatch/American Institute of Philanthropy.
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