Supporters Like You

Read about supporters who are making an impact in the lives of people with disabilities, today and for future generations.

Donna Hedin

Donna Hedin knew at the tender age of three that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up. And for an astounding 50 years, she did just that, caring for people of all ages at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in St. Paul. During her career, she personally helped the smallest and most vulnerable of babies.

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Over the years, Donna observed how advances in technology gave more preemie babies than ever the chance to survive. Yet many go on to have special challenges, including intellectual and developmental disabilities that last a lifetime. While people with these disabilities may receive support as children, when they become adults they can be left to fend for themselves – and their needs can go unmet.

“I saw a lot of babies that would need the help of Bethesda,” said Donna. This is why Donna has chosen Bethesda as a place she has entrusted her charitable dollars.

It turns out Donna is not the only person in her family who has had a special place in her heart for Bethesda. “I was really close with my mom – she was very important to me,” Donna shared. “I didn’t have any idea she liked Bethesda!”

And like Bethesda she did. Lynora Hedin gave many gifts to her favorite charity, dating all the way back to 1975. “I’m really proud of my mom for doing that,” Donna said.

Today, in retirement, Donna continues that tradition of giving in honor of her mom, and is involved with Bethesda in many ways. Her gifts have helped many important projects and have enhanced the supports we provide. Donna has visited the Watertown campus, including the original chapel, as well as Camp Matz. Naturally, Donna also talks to her friends about Bethesda whenever she can.

Dennis Vanden Heuvel, development director for Bethesda, has known Donna for years and greatly appreciates her commitment to Bethesda. “Donna is so generous, but in the end she wants to know that her generosity has a purpose,” he said.

Through her ongoing engagement with Bethesda, Donna is adding to her 50 years of caring, and continuing to impact lives along the way. “Bethesda services aren’t going away because the needs aren’t going away,” she said

Sherburn “Bud” J. Witt

Sherburn “Bud” J. Witt, born in 1932, was a lifelong resident of Mequon, Wis. The son of a banker and a teacher, he learned from his parents the importance of giving and helping others. After serving in the Army and attending college, Mr. Witt spent his career helping others find the job of their dreams.

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Mr. Witt’s neighbor said, “Bud was a very independent, humble and down-to-earth man who was incredibly well informed on local events and politics. He loved the news and read the newspaper religiously every day. Bud really enjoyed following the stock market. His favorite show was Jim Cramer’s ‘Mad Money,’ which likely led him to be an early investor in Google, despite never owning a computer.”

Through the years, Mr. Witt supported many charitable organizations, and at his death in 2019, he left half of his entire estate to Bethesda. It was his parents’ connection and support of our mission that likely influenced his tremendous generosity. He may have been the quiet next-door neighbor. But Mr. Witt’s gift to Bethesda speaks volumes—and will continue to do so—by empowering us to help build brighter futures for people with disabilities. By taking the time to consider how he could best help others, Mr. Witt is a shining example of the importance of estate planning to achieve an ultimate gift of purpose.

Al Troyke

One of Bethesda’s longtime donors, Al Troyke, posthumously received the Leave a Legacy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Southeastern Wisconsin (AFPSE).

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The award was given for his unwavering commitment to the community through a documented planned gift at the 40th annual National Philanthropy Day Celebration in Milwaukee.

“Al was one of the most selfless donors Bethesda has been blessed to know, and he demonstrated his love for Bethesda’s mission through a lifetime of support,” said Katey Higgins, development director for Bethesda. “He gave generously through gifts of stock, cash and gift annuities to help make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After his passing this year at age 97, he left a truly transformative legacy gift to Bethesda.”

Troyke made a career as an executive in finance and accounting for AT&T in New York and New Jersey. Troyke and his late wife, Laura, had two daughters, one born with disabilities. To support their daughter’s development, they had heard of Bethesda and knew it would be the perfect place for their daughter. She came to Bethesda in 1966 and soon after their daughter found a home, Troyke and his wife relocated to Chicago, where Troyke continued to work for AT&T, and then finally to the Watertown area, where they visited their daughter regularly.

Through the years, Troyke gave of his time and talents. He volunteered with the parent group and many other opportunities within the organization, including delivering mail to people supported at Bethesda. By all accounts, he lived a very simple, frugal lifestyle and gave all he had to help enrich the lives of those in his community.

“National Philanthropy Day is the day we recognize and pay tribute to the contributions that philanthropy –  and philanthropists – have made to our communities,” said Higgins. “Al continued to leave a lasting impression on all who knew him until his passing. This world was blessed to have 97 years of Al Troyke in it, and his pure loving, giving and grateful attitude will continue to inspire me as well as many others for years to come. I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive AFPSE’s Leave a Legacy Award.”

Jill’s Perspective on Giving

Gift annuities are a favorite method of charitable giving for many savvy donors. Recently a long-time, faithful and generous Bethesda supporter from Northern Wisconsin anonymously shared her thoughts on gift annuities.

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Jill’s connection to Bethesda goes back many decades. “I first heard about Bethesda in the 1960’s through my church and a local Bethesda Thrift Shop in my community. I also had a cousin who lived at the Watertown, WI campus for 20 years. My first gift to Bethesda was a $5 cash donation given through my church.”

Over the years, she often thought about how God blessed her with a good family, good jobs, good health and good friends. Her gratitude for God’s blessing in her life and the quality care she knew her cousin had received prompted her to financially support the work being done at Bethesda.

“Some of my money was earning very little, so I was looking for ways to earn a better return on my investment while also providing a charitable gift. That’s when someone at Bethesda asked me to consider a charitable gift annuity. My first annuity featured a 7.7% interest rate, a nice charitable deduction for tax purposes, plus a guaranteed stream of income for life. The folks at Bethesda worked out all the details with my accountant and I just wrote the check.”

“My gift annuities to Bethesda have been ideal for me: First, the competitive interest rates have been very attractive. Second, the guaranteed stream of income for life has given me financial security. Third, the tax deductions have been key part of my tax strategy. Fourth, the gifts to Bethesda are going to a good cause for people who really need it. It’s such a blessing to have people who are willing to work there and who care for the people they serve.”

In closing, Jill pointed out one more key benefit her gift annuities provide. “Bethesda will receive most of my estate, but my gift annuities provide me with the satisfaction of knowing my gifts are helping people in need while I’m still here to see it.”

We’re thankful to Jill for her willingness to share her thoughts and her Bethesda story!

 “Bethesda services aren’t going away because the needs aren’t going away.”

—Donna Hedin

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Lorene King

Lorene King

Vice President of Philanthropy