Quality Care Makes Big Impression on Grateful Grandparents

Larry and Marjorie Rhutasel

Larry and Marjorie's gift to St. Louis Children's Hospital helps kids like their granddaughter, Zoe, while paying them a fixed income for the rest of their lives.

It's difficult to see a child in pain. It's even more difficult when it's your grandchild and they are in and out of the hospital for years dealing with an illness. But in those trying times, it's truly the environment that makes or breaks the experience for the family. That was the case for Larry and Marjorie Rhutasel and their granddaughter, Zoe, and her journey at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Larry and Marjorie (known to everyone as Marg) were born and raised in Iowa. Larry attended the University of Iowa and received a degree in civil engineering and they then moved to Illinois. From Springfield they moved to Champaign-Urbana where Marg graduated with a degree in education from the University of Illinois and Larry received his master's degree in sanitary engineering. After six years, they made the move south to Freeburg. They have two grown sons, one who lives in St. Louis with two children; and another who lives near them in Freeburg and also has two children, the younger being Zoe.

Zoe was just about two years old when she started her journey at St. Louis Children's Hospital. What started out as appendicitis and a removed appendix turned into numerous visits after Zoe continued to suffer from chronic pain. After many tests and discussions with doctors, Zoe was eventually diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis.

As a child, Zoe was laid back but also very reserved and Larry saw how her illness greatly affected her personality. While pancreatitis is unusual in children, Zoe's parents searched around for more answers. After visits to several out-of-state hospitals, Zoe made her home at St. Louis Children's.

"The amazing part for me was that she was in and out of the hospital a lot, but she still graduated with her high school class," says Larry. Zoe, who recently turned 21, has continued to show success in school and after being accepted to multiple universities, has chosen to attend SIU Edwardsville to major in social work.

Larry and Marg credit St. Louis Children's with providing the best care possible for their granddaughter. "We went through some very tough, trying and uncomfortable times, and in our visiting, it just seemed like everyone was very helpful and concerned," says Larry. He fondly remembers visiting the playroom and spending time with Zoe in the Olson Family Garden. "I was very impressed with the quality and the attentiveness of the people who worked with her. It made a very big impression on us."

That impression led the Rhutasels to donate to the hospital in the form of a charitable gift annuity—a simple contract between a donor and St. Louis Children's Hospital where the donor agrees to make a gift to St. Louis Children's and the hospital, in return, agrees to pay the donor a fixed amount each year for the rest of their life.

For Larry and Marg, pursuing a charitable gift annuity just made sense. "We are still active people and that gives us a little return on our money up until we were gone," says Larry. "It struck me as a wise way to do it."

This type of gift provides donors like the Rhutasels with regular payments, and allows St. Louis Children's Hospital to provide children with life-saving treatments while ensuring they don't miss out on the best parts of being kids. As a bonus, donors can also qualify for a variety of tax benefits, such as a charitable income tax deduction and the potential for a portion of the donor's annual income to be tax-free.

While Zoe is now in the process of transitioning to an adult hospital to continue her care, her grandparents will forever be grateful for the care she received at St. Louis Children's. Their gift will continue to help change lives for more children like Zoe.

Contact the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation at 314.286.0988 or slchfoundation@bjc.org to learn more about the different options for including St. Louis Children's Hospital in your will or estate plan.