December 19, 1994
Media Contact:Jo Martin
Phone: (410) 223-1736
E-mail: JMartin@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

The Horatio B. Ebert Foundation has committed $150,000 over five years for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. It is the largest single gift in the "Hand-in-Hand" campaign to raise $1 million for the Child Life department.

The Ebert Foundation is named for one of founders of a Wooster, Ohio, plastics company. Among the board members is Catherine Ebert, Horatio Ebert's granddaughter and a Baltimore tax attorney. She says her family follows her grandfather's philosophy of funding educational and community initiatives, but her reasons for helping Child Life are even more personal.

"I contacted the Children's Center five years ago to take a tour and was exhilarated to see how much a pediatric hospital had changed since my first contact with one years ago in another city," she says. "My brother, Bobby, was diagnosed with cancer at age 5 and he died within three months of the diagnosis. This gift is in his honor."

According to Child Life director Jerriann Wilson, the department provides quality living opportunities for children and their families at Hopkins and is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. The specially-trained staff manages playrooms on the patient floors so children have a place where procedures and other frightening encounters never are allowed. Medical play lets them act out their fears by performing pretend tests and surgeries on dolls or staff members. The program also provides a special cable television channel for Children's Center patients and brings entertainers and sports stars to visit.

'The problem is that Hopkins cannot charge for any of those services," says Ebert. "All of the funding must come from outside sources."

In addition to the foundation's gift, Ebert's family has given its time to Child Life.

"My son and daughter volunteered with the program and share my belief that it is a vital part of patient care at the Children's Center," she says. Kelly Harkless, 18, is a student at St. Paul's School for Girls and Michael Harkless, 20, attends the College of Wooster in Ohio and is spending his junior year studying in Scotland.

-- JHMI --
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