Feature Story

Guilds Bring Financial Relief to Families

Fall Cover 2

Janette Braun was so focused on her 6-year-old daughter’s leukemia diagnosis that little else registered – not even the information she had received about Seattle Children’s Uncompensated Care Program. But panic set in when Braun opened her first hospital bill. Then, just two days later, she received a letter from the hospital’s Financial Assistance Program explaining that Sienna’s medical needs – doctors’ fees, laboratory tests, hospital expenses – would be completely covered beyond the limits of what the family’s health insurance would pay.

“We could take a breath and not worry about how we’d buy the next gallon of milk, and focus on our child’s well-being,” says Braun, a Federal Way mom of five.

Over the past three years, Sienna has battled leukemia twice and undergone a bone marrow transplant – spending a total of seven months in the hospital. Thanks to the treatments, her cancer is now in remission.

“Thanks to uncompensated care we haven’t had to pay a penny,” Braun says. “I can’t fathom what it would be like to worry about financial issues when you’re already so worried about your child.” Read more.

Meet Debbie Cady: Your New Board Chair

Fall Debbie Cady

Debbie Cady’s strong leadership experience, including 16 years with the Frances W. Nordstrom Guild and seven years as a Guild Association trustee, will help her shine as our new chair. She’s held the roles of president, vice president and treasurer of her guild and headed up several successful guild fundraisers. Cady has also served as vice chair of the Guild Association Board of Trustees and led the board’s development and nominating committee. We asked her to share a little about herself as she prepares to take the reins from Judy Ogden Oct. 1:

How did you first get involved with Seattle Children’s guilds?

My sister-in-law, Jennifer Zinda, invited me to join her guild, and later I followed in her footsteps to join the Guild Association Board of Trustees.

Do you have any other family members in a guild?

My daughter, Emily, joined the Little Lemon Drops Junior Guild a few years ago. Her cousin is a founding member. It’s been fun watching Emily find her place in her guild — I love to see how each guild finds a way to tap into each member’s passions.

What are you most excited about in taking on this role?

With the upcoming roll-out of special fundraising initiatives, our board and membership are going to become more involved in more significant ways to drive hospital strategies, and that will really energize our group. I feel honored to lead the board during such an exciting time. I’m also excited to go to more events, meet guild members and learn what drives them, and share with members the amazing things the hospital is doing.

What makes you most proud to be part of the Guild Association?

No other children’s hospital in the country has a support system like our guilds, and it’s tremendous that we support the hospital in so many different ways.

Is there one remarkable thing you like to share about our guilds?

Thanks to our heartwarming guilds, every child takes home a handmade blanket after a night’s stay in the hospital. That’s just amazing!

What do you do to relax?

I love to cook, especially trying new ways of creating dishes. I’ve recently been perfecting brown-butter chocolate chip cookies.

Other News

2018 Heartwarming Fundraising Initiative: Operation Family Care

Fall Operation Family 

We invite you to join the Guild Association’s 2018 Heartwarming Initiative. Help families in need by donating grocery-store gift cards in increments of $15 to $25 (Safeway preferred) to the Guild Association office. To donate cash for the purchase of needed items, please make checks payable to Seattle Children’s Guild Association with “Operation Family Care” on the memo line. Mail your donation to Seattle Children's Guild Association, Attn: Emily Downing, P.O. Box 5371, M/S S-200, Seattle, Washington 98145. Thank you! For more information, email Emily Downing, or call her at 206-987-6833.

Bargain Boutiques Update

Fall Bargain Boutiques

Over the past seven years, the volunteers, staff and friends of Seattle Children’s six Bargain Boutiques have worked together to make a difference in the fight against cancer. Through special sales events held each fall, they have raised more than $160,000 to support lifesaving research conducted by Dr. Mike Jensen and his team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research.

“We first met Dr. Jensen when his lab held only lab coats,” says Eva Campbell, director, Bargain Boutiques. “We have been very passionate and dedicated to this cause since day one. Our volunteers, staff and customers continue to raise awareness around and support this important work. I’m immensely proud of our commitment and success – this is what we stand for.”

Learn more about cancer-research fundraising events scheduled this fall at a Bargain Boutique, or visit a store near you.

Leaving a Legacy: A Son’s Heart Repair Leads to Enduring Commitment

Fall Alex Lytle Legacy

As Alex Lytle and her husband, Steve, sat by their 2-year-old son Cooper’s bedside 19 years ago, they focused all their attention on their toddler’s recovery. During a routine checkup for his baby brother, Park, the Lytle’s pediatrician had showed the curious young Cooper how the stethoscope worked by listening to his heart. The doctor heard an irregularity and promptly referred Cooper to Seattle Children’s, where he was diagnosed with a hole in his heart and underwent a successful surgery with no complications. Cooper has since led a healthy life that has included running cross-country and playing lacrosse. He is now a junior studying mechanical engineering at Gonzaga University.

During long hours of sitting with their son in intensive care following his surgery, Cooper’s parents were moved by another family’s story. In the bed next to Cooper’s, a baby was all alone. His parents were forced to make the difficult decision to keep working in their home state of Alaska while their son recovered. This was when the Lytles first learned about uncompensated care, and what inspired Alex Lytle to form a guild to support the program so that fewer parents would have to make this painful choice.

“My husband and I were with Cooper the whole time, and it broke my heart that, due to finances, that family had to choose between working and being with their child,” she says. “I wanted to do something to help.”

Inspired to give back

She rallied a group of moms from her eldest son’s toddler group and formed the Cooper Joseph Lytle Guild in 1999. The group raised funds for Seattle Children’s for the next 13 years. When life circumstances caused the guild to lose energy, Lytle was still fully committed to the hospital’s mission. She joined the Preston Kuppe Guild eight years ago, and jumped right in to help plan its annual Art à la Carte Auction and Luncheon. Drawn to event planning, Lytle now heads procurement for the event’s live auction, and serves on the Guild Association Board of Trustees.

When she attended a board of trustees meeting where a speaker from Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation outlined various ways to leave a legacy gift, Lytle was motivated to take her commitment to Seattle Children’s one step further. She had heard about The Guardians’ Circle, a group of donors who have included Seattle Children’s in their wills or made other planned gifts, but thought it was only for those who could make notably large donations.

“What hit me was that there was a small thing you could do without going to an attorney, without rewriting your will,” Lytle says. “You can change the beneficiary on one of your bank accounts, so whatever is in that account goes to Seattle Children’s. It only takes a minute. That very day I made this change on an account I wasn’t using – it was the perfect way to begin, a way to keep giving after I’m gone.”

Lytle says this easy first action was a way to “buy time” until she and her husband could make more thoughtful decisions about their finances. Since then, the Lytles have made other adjustments to their estate plan to support the hospital.

“I’ve dedicated my life to helping Seattle Children’s. I’ve worked so hard to support this cause, why not continue it after I’m gone?” she says. “I want to make sure that when I’m not here the giving continues.”

If you’d like to help future generations of children receive the very best care by including Seattle Children’s in your will or estate plan, email Jessica Breitbarth, or call her at 206-987-4977.