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Swank Foundation Makes Million Dollar Gift to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

Funds Treatment, Education and Research for Cerebral Palsy

Monday, Jun 27, 2011


The Howard W. Swank, Alma K. Swank and Richard Kemper Swank Foundation, located in Wilmington, DE, has announced a gift of $1 million ($333,000 in each of three years) to establish The Swank Center for Neuro-Orthopaedics at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The gift will advance the care of children with cerebral palsy and other neuro-orthopedic conditions. At an event at the hospital, representatives of the foundation and Nemours presented information about the new center and its impact on the hospital’s ability to provide comprehensive care for children with cerebral palsy and emotional support for their families; educate and train practitioners in their care; use advanced technology and orthotics to improve daily living; and conduct research to develop new and better therapies and assistive devices.

The Swank Foundation was established through the generosity of the late Howard and Alma Swank, long-time residents of Wilmington. Denise Schwartz, the vice president of the foundation board explained: “We are focused on Delaware and on supporting organizations that treat neurological disorders and have the potential to impact many lives.” She went on to say that the foundation was impressed with the physicians at Nemours and the range of services available to children with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders. “What they do is overwhelming. We are thrilled to be part of it,” she added.

“This gift is exciting and motivating,” said William Mackenzie, MD, Chairman of Orthopedics at the duPont Hospital for Children, home to one of the largest and most comprehensive cerebral palsy programs in the country.  “We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to contribute to knowledge in the field, educate health care professionals and families, and improve patient care and satisfaction.”

The donation will fund projects that include:
  • A cerebral palsy registry and database, to obtain and centralize summary data on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.
  • Highly specialized orthotic devices for patients who could benefit from their use but do not have the financial means to obtain them.
  • Family conferences and visiting professorships for experts in the field.
  • Enhancements to the gait lab, used primarily to analyze the walking and movements of children with cerebral palsy in order to make treatment decisions and monitor progress before and after surgery.
  • Enhanced psychological support for families of children with cerebral palsy and other neuro-orthopaedic conditions.

Christine Szwech, of Bensalem, PA recounted, “My daughter Paige was born with a condition known as Vacterl association and some life-threatening abnormalities. When we met Dr. Freeman Miller at duPont Hospital for Children, it was he who first told us that our daughter had cerebral palsy and it’s also when things changed for the better for Paige.”

Ms. Szwech added, “The atmosphere at duPont Hospital was amazing. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. Dr. Miller’s medical secretary helped untangle insurance issues. No one had ever been that kind to us before. For once, I did not have to navigate the medical system by myself. Paige has had multiple visits and surgery and we have always been impressed with the skills and compassion of her care team.”

Orthopaedic surgeon Freeman Miller, MD, commented, “The gift from the Swank Foundation allows us to build on our long-term commitment to partner with parents in providing the best care possible for children like Paige. Our neuro-orthopaedic programs assist parents and caregivers in helping children reach their maximum potential as they grow to become young adults. This gift allows us to increase support for families, enhance quality and build our knowledge base.”

About Nemours

Nemours is an internationally recognized children's health system that owns and operates the two free-standing children’s hospitals: the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, Fla., along with outpatient facilities in five states, delivering pediatric primary, specialty and urgent care. Nemours also powers the world’s most-visited website for information on the health of children and teens,, and offers on-demand, online video patient visits through Nemours CareConnect. Nemours is a program dedicated to preventing reading failure in young children, grounded in Nemours’ understanding that child health and learning are inextricably linked, and that reading level is a strong predictor of adult health.

Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, Nemours provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to families in the communities it serves.