At this year’s Champions for Children donor appreciation dinner, more than 200 guests honored the generosity of donors like Tom and Joy Murdough who make it possible for Akron Children’s Hospital to treat every child regardless of their ability to pay.
The Murdoughs were presented with the 2017 Children’s Champion award for their long-standing commitment to Akron Children’s. As the Murdoughs shared at the event, all 4 of their sons received care at the hospital, most notably their son Peter.
In 1981, at the age of 8, Peter was involved in a serious lawn mower accident and faced the possibility of losing his foot. Thanks to the expertise of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Harry O’Dell, Peter did not lose his foot and had a full recovery.
“We don’t feel like we should be the ones being honored tonight. This is really a night to honor Bill Considine and his staff. We cannot say enough good things about them,” Tom said. “Thank you for building such a great hospital.”
Tom, the founder of Little Tikes, Step2 and The Simplay3 Company and the developer of First and Main in Hudson, served on Akron Children’s Board of Directors from 1988-1996. Then in 2014, the Murdoughs made a leadership commitment of $1 million to support the Building on the Promise Campaign. Last year, the Murdough Family Lobby welcomed more than 70,000 patients who visited the Kay Jewelers Pavilion.
The Murdoughs shared the stage that evening with Matthew Wilson, president and professor of law at The University of Akron. Matthew shared his family’s story of moving from Wyoming to Akron right after finding out their son, James, had a rare bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma.
The family moved their lives and James’ cancer care to Akron, and now, almost 3 years later, James is in remission thanks to Akron Children’s Hospital.
“It’s amazing why we’re here in Akron. It’s not because I’m president of the university, we’re here for James,” Matthew said. “And we’re here because of Akron Children’s. We spent a year of our life in that hospital. The staff, the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses – they’re angels. They sacrifice their lives for the lives of these kids.”
Matthew invited James, a world-class pianist, on stage to end the evening’s events with a performance on the piano. James playing the piano again was a miracle, Matthew said, because they feared they would never see him play again because chemotherapy kills the nerve endings in the fingers.
“Akron Children’s took that extra step and went the extra mile to treat James. From the janitors to the doctors, they would poke their head in and say, James, what are you going to play for me today?” Matthew said. “James would pop out of bed, IVs in his arm, and he would sit up and he would play Mozart and he would play Bach. He would play for the little kids who were there. James, thanks for all that you taught me because you taught me it was about others and not about me.”