Giving Back and Giving Locally

Nelda Hinckley

Nelda Hinckley

Like so many of our remarkably generous donors, Nelda and Conrad Hinckley's association with St. Louis Children's Hospital began with great heartbreak. The Hinckleys, from Carbondale, Ill., lost their daughter to leukemia in 1970. Galen was just 5. Nearly half her life was spent battling the disease, from her diagnosis in 1968, to remission, to relapse.

Nelda says, through it all, her valiant little girl showed great compassion and sensitivity to the other children she saw fighting their own battles. "I remember one time she wanted me to go down to the gift shop and buy a present for a little boy who also had cancer. That's just the kind of child she was."

Through the years, even while pursuing their careers in higher education and raising Galen's two older siblings, Nelda and Conrad have always honored their daughter's memory through donations to the hospital. Nelda even organized local book fairs with all proceeds donated to Children's. Recently, the Hinckleys established a charitable gift annuity as just one more way of thanking the hospital for the compassionate care their family received.

The knowledge that what doctors understand about childhood leukemia today would quite possibly have saved their daughter's life fuels Nelda's passion for directing some of her charitable giving to pediatric research. Just good old-fashioned common sense, she says, drives her to remind others of the importance of giving locally.

"I would never take anything away from places like St. Jude's in Memphis," she says. "They do wonderful work. But when I hear about people around Carbondale directing memorial gifts down there, I just want to say, ‘Wait a minute. Don't you want your money to go where your children or grandchild will most likely be treated if they are diagnosed with something serious?'"

Nelda goes on to emphasize that no one at Children's ever asked her or Conrad if they would be able to pay for Galen's care. "They don't ask because it doesn't matter," Nelda says. "St. Louis Children's Hospital treats every family who walks through the door, whether or not their child's treatment needs fits a certain testing protocol."