Family to Family
A major gift establishes specialty clinics for children facing acute health concerns.
George Fait ’50 has been a longtime supporter of causes close to his heart.
As a member of a high-achieving graduating class at the UW and founder of Capitol Indemnity Corporation, Fait has made gifts to various organizations, including United Way, the Henry Vilas Zoo, Badger athletics, the UW Carbone Cancer Center, and the Wisconsin School of Business, where a room bears his name.
For Fait’s fifty-fifth class reunion in 2005, the in-the-works American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) was targeted as a class gift beneficiary. “I think that’s how he learned of the opportunities related to the children’s hospital,” says Leslie Farmer, one of Fait’s three children. “The children’s hospital holds a very special place in his heart. He has seven grandsons, and I think that was an important factor in his decision to give.”
In recent years, Fait’s health has been declining. “He had a major stroke and many minor strokes,” says Farmer, a graduate of Northwestern University whose siblings are UW alumni Diane Zillner ’84 and Joel Fait ’82. “My brother, sister, and I wanted to fulfill his wishes to make a significant contribution that would benefit the entire community. We wanted it to be something that would live on and really help people.”
The AFCH fits the bill. A major gift established the Faits as a founding family for the new hospital, and the George Fait Family Pediatric Specialty Clinics will ensure a legacy of quality health care for generations of children to come. The clinics serve children with acute health concerns, such as cancer and heart ailments. The attractive space on Level 2 of the AFCH, where all outpatient appointments take place, houses more than thirty specialty clinics. The clinics include thirty-five exam rooms, teaching and education spaces, special procedure rooms, radiology, labs, and rehabilitation facilities.
“George has a wonderful history of supporting the University of Wisconsin,” says Jeff Poltawsky, the hospital’s administrator and vice president. “What is so special about the gift to UW’s American Family Children’s Hospital is how he involved his entire family in the process, creating the George A. Fait Family Pediatric Specialty Clinics. It is this commitment to family participation that mirrors our own commitment to provide highly specialized care to children in an environment where children are supported by their families in a warm, caring way.”
The more the Fait family became involved in the planning for the AFCH, the more they were drawn to the entire project. “I went to the former hospital to get my tonsils out when I was eight years old,” Farmer says. “The care was fantastic, but, let’s face it, the place was not. It was pretty depressing being there, especially as a little kid.”
The new surroundings make a big difference. “Not that you’d want to see any child have to be hospitalized, but now there is a cheerful and modern place for the kids to get care,” she says. “It’s bright and inviting, and the parents can stay if they want to. That just wasn’t possible in the old location.
“The care has always been top-notch,” she adds. “The doctors and nurses do wonderful things. Now the bricks and mortar are impressive and match what goes on there. Being in such a setting, I think, can make the experience much less frightening for children.”
The family’s involvement with the hospital didn’t stop at the founding gift. At a benefit in February, Fait’s children got together and made a winning bid of $20,000 to have dinner with John Flad MS’72, another founding supporter of AFCH.
“We are really excited and happy to be a part of it,” Farmer says. “It’s a wonderful thing for children and their families.”
Published in the Summer 2010 issue