Honoring Maryssa’s Journey

From the moment Maryssa was born with a heart defect, Mitch and Mindy watched their tiny, yet mighty, daughter fight.  

After open-heart surgery, she began to thrive. But when she was 2, Maryssa’s condition took an unexpected turn, and the family lost their brave little warrior.

Though devastated, Mitch and Mindy were determined to keep their daughter’s memory alive by helping other families facing a similar journey. They established Maryssa’s Mission Foundation to “be the blessing they prayed to receive.” 

That’s the spirit behind their generous gift supporting the family lounge in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) of our new Critical Care Building.  

“It was hard to spend time with our three other children while Maryssa was in the hospital,” Mindy shares. “Maryssa’s Family Lounge will be a place where families can have some time together to reconnect, away from the CICU.”

Their gift is also in appreciation for the above-and-beyond care they received from our heart specialists. “Everyone who cared for Maryssa came to see her,” Mitch says, remembering the hours near the end of her journey. “We aren’t just a number to Cincinnati Children’s—and that’s part of the reason we’re giving this gift.”

Partnering with Kohl's to Save Lives

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reports that for every person who dies by suicide, 280 think seriously about it but don’t act. Often teens suffer in silence. 

Kohl’s shares our dedication to improving outcomes for our community. So they partner with us to expand our Adapting for Life, Surviving the Teens Program.

Adapting For Life is an evidence-based mental health awareness and suicide prevention curriculum, taught by mental health specialists, offered free of charge to local schools. In addition to in-class instruction, the program provides resources for parents.

With Kohl’s as a partner, we’ve expanded to 30 new schools in the past two years—equipping more teens with tools to navigate turbulent times. And it’s working. We’ve seen increases in help-seeking behaviors, as well as reductions in emergency department visits for mental health crises.

“Adapting for Life allows kids to develop tools to help themselves and recognize warning signs in their friends and peers,” explains Michael Sorter, MD, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “Philanthropy is the major contributor to keep the program going.  Without partnerships, we would struggle to expand to reach more teens.”