Kapic family

Chef’s Dinner 2017: David Kapic’s Remarks

February 9th, 2017

On Monday, RMHC Eastern Wisconsin held the 31st Annual Chef’s Dinner, where renowned Milwaukee chefs came together to create a delicious six course meal with expertly paired wine. Guests indulged in a delectable dining experience and participated in a silent auction that benefitted families who stay at the House. During the event, David Kapic spoke about his experience staying at the House in 2006 with his family when their daughter, Bridget needed surgery to repair a hole in her heart.

Please enjoy his impactful remarks.

Thank you!  It is an honor to be here tonight.

A few months back I received an unexpected call from Bridget Kesner asking if I’d consider speaking at tonight’s event.  To say I was surprised is an understatement, but the answer was easy – “Absolutely!”   The only question was how we’d manage the logistics; with 4 active children between the ages of 11-17 there are no open evenings. My wife Jen came up with the solution… tonight became an extra special father/daughter date night.  I get a chance to enjoy my Bridget’s company and to thoroughly embarrass her over the next few minutes!

Bridget is our second child and our oldest daughter.  When she was just 18 months old we found out that she had an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD); for a layman like me it basically meant she had a hole in her heart. For the next couple of years, we had regular visits to the cardiologist where they monitored her ASD hoping it might close on its own. Unfortunately, it did not and in May of 2006 we headed down to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee for Bridget to have open heart surgery.

Any parent who has dealt with a child’s serious health problem knows it is a true test.  Without question we were absolutely challenged.  What got us through the experience was our faith in God, a strong marriage, the blessings of amazing doctors and staff at Children’s Hospital, as well as the support of family, friends, and community.  And in that warm community RMH stood out as a shining star.

Preparing for tonight I went out to Caring Bridge, another fantastic service, and was thrilled to find Bridget’s journal from 11 years ago.  My wife Jen kept everyone updated using Caring Bridge.  If you will indulge me I’d like to read a few of the entries as I think it is the best way to tell our story…

  • We made it to Milwaukee and were lucky enough to get into the Ronald McDonald House. We were on a waiting list, but couldn’t find out until today if we would get a room. It is as nice as everyone had described with a library, computer room, chapel, play room, game room, kitchens, etc. And the volunteer staff is extremely gracious.
  • Our only mishap was when Dad unpacked and realized he brought two tennis shoes that didn’t match! We all laughed! At least they weren’t both lefties! So he’ll just look silly walking around.

May 23, 2006

  • Day of tests, consultation, and Build-A-Bear at RMH (you will see her bear in many of the pictures).

May 24, 2006 (the longest day)

  • 7 AM: Well I gave mom and dad one last kiss before they rolled me into the surgery room. I was feeling very happy and a bit sleepy, as they had given me “goofy juice” ten minutes earlier. Now I will go to sleep while they fix my heart. And the long wait starts for mom and dad (and everyone else who is praying for me).
  • 9:45. Dave is truly upset. We are both reacting in the customary ways that we have grown to expect from each other. I am sure that the pent up stress and emotion will spring from me once the surgery has been completed.
  • 12:45. Dr. Mitchell just came out to see us. He is VERY pleased with how Bridget’s surgery went. Once he finally saw the hole for himself, he discovered that it is not a wide hole, but rather it was about a centimeter long, which is significant. He said he was glad we did the surgery now…
  • 2:50. Dave and I have been sitting in PICU with Bridget for almost an hour. She is still sleeping.  All her vital signs are good and they remain constant. We are excited for her to wake up and see us there. We are also dreading her waking up because we know that she will be in pain and she will be thirsty.
  • 3:40. Bridget is just waking up. She hasn’t said anything yet. I have to go back to the McDonald House to feed Gretchen (who should have taken a nap for Grandma). Dave is staying with Bridget.
  • 6:00. Bridget has been awake for a while. The doctors warned us that she would be mad when she woke up. And she is! She is mad because she wants all the needles and tubes out. She is mad because she wants water. She is mad because she wants to eat. She is mad because she wants to go home. While I was with Bridget, she was very angry and told me that she is going to take all the tubes out and go home. I told the nurses to keep an eye on her because she is planning to escape.
  • 8:50. I haven’t seen Bridget again because I’ve been walking the halls with Gretchen. I know that you guys have been praying all day, but if you have any praying left in you, please remember a little boy named Dustin in your prayers tonight. I just spent 30 minutes talking to Dustin’s mom and I was with her when Dustin came out of the OR (he was in there for 6-1/2 hours). His mom was upset and I felt the agony in every one of her tears. This is a different world in Children’s Hospital. So many miracles and so much heartache. Strangers bonding while they wait.
  • … there are people with easier problems to deal with than ours and other people with problems much worse than ours. You almost feel guilty that your child is doing so great when you know a family just 15 feet away from you is dealing with such immense heartache.

May    25, 2006

  • I didn’t sleep very long last night and came over to the hospital at 6:30. The doctors and nurses said that Bridget had a good night, but she and Dave might disagree with that statement. Very little sleep in the ICU. The good news is that Bridget did NOT escape last night!

May 26, 2006

  • Bridget keeps getting better. She finished her echo and EKG. Her repair is looking great.  Bridget walked with Dad all the way down the hall…
  • Grandma is going to stay with Bridget this afternoon. I’m going to take Dave and Gretchen back to the house for naps. Dave has been a non-stop Super Dad throughout this experience.

Skipping over lots of sleepless entries to…

May 27, 2006

  • We’re going home! Next update from Green Bay.
  • Thank you everyone for your positive thoughts, prayers, good wishes and support.

Skipping ahead…

February 6, 2017

  • A grateful Dad speaks at a charity event for the RMH with his beautiful, healthy, 15-year-old daughter Bridget at his side!

Bridget represents the prayers of so many families.

Today Bridget is a completely healthy 15-year-old freshman in high school who continues to make her parents proud.  She suffers no long-term effects from her heart surgery.

Not every story ends as well as our story.  We are so blessed and try hard never to take those blessings for granted.  Frankly, speaking tonight is a selfish act.  It forces me to relive the experience.  It reminds me to be grateful for the blessings in my life – especially my daughter Bridget.

The journal entries I read were written 11 years ago without the wildest thought they would be referenced at event such as this one.  The references to the RMH were without pretense or intention other than expressing sincere appreciation.  What stood out to me was how over the course of our time at Children’s Hospital Jen stopped calling it “The Ronald McDonald House” – eventually calling it “the house.”  Because that is what it became – it was our sanctuary, our home away from home.  It wasn’t just the facilities and the location, but rather the volunteers and the community of parents all dealing with heart wrenching challenges.  It was our retreat to deal with emotions in private.  And sometimes it was simply a quiet place to rest after countless days and nights without sleep.

My wish in sharing Bridget’s story is that you might have a more personalized appreciation of the RMH and the incredible services they provide.  With the help and support of people like you the RMH has grown and expanded over the past 11 years to accommodate more families who are in need.  And while Bridget Kesner never asked me for a financial donation or to make an appeal to you, I want to personally ask that you give strong consideration to providing financial support. Few charities have such a direct and profound effect on our community.  From my biased perspective RMH stands alone in terms of mission and impact.

Thank you for listening, thank you for the consideration, and thank you for helping me to embarrass my daughter!

Bridget Kapic in the hospital The Kapic Girls Bridget Kapic with Pom Pons

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