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"They were both very active. They met skiing, and they did everything together for 54 years," says Barbara Block Vanderkloot. She's referring to her parents, the late George and June Block, who died within months of each other just a few years ago. But George and June cared not only for each other and their own family, but also for their entire community. And that commitment to caring for others is living on through the work of the George and June Block Foundation. Begun by George, the longtime head of Carstens patient record systems company, the Foundation is now administered by Barbara and her brother, Peter Block.
In September 2009, June was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She was referred to Malcolm Bilimoria, MD, an oncology surgeon at NCH nationally renowned for his expertise in surgical procedures that extend the lives of pancreatic cancer patients.
It turned out that June's case was too advanced for lifesaving surgery. However, she and her family were impressed by the expertise and compassion provided by Dr. Bilimoria and NCH medical oncologist Randy Rich, MD. "She got absolutely incredible care, and she could not have been more pleased," Barbara says. "Dr. Bilimoria, Dr. Rich, the nurses; everyone was simply wonderful." Though she bravely endured her treatments and palliative procedures, June passed away on Memorial Day 2010, just five months after George.
To honor their mother and express their gratitude for her excellent care at NCH, Barbara and her brother, Peter, decided to make a sizable grant through their family foundation to help patients who could not afford treatment for pancreatic cancer.
"Pancreatic cancer is very expensive to treat, and Dr. Bilimoria told us we could designate our gift specifically for charity care in his service line," Barbara says. "We wanted to be able to help someone who faced the same devastating diagnosis as our mother—but didn't have the means to get the best care."
Soon after the family's first gift, Barbara met with Dr. Bilimoria and he told her about a patient of his who had benefited from the generosity of the Block Foundation.
"A very sick man who had been laid off really needed care that he could not afford," Barbara says. "Dr. Bilimoria told us that this man was truly thankful to our family for the financial assistance. What better way could we have to honor our mother's memory?"