‘Dream team’ inspires support for digestive disease research
When Ted Rich was flown to Cleveland Clinic on a Thursday night with severe abdominal pain, his family did not know what to expect on meeting the surgeon, R. Matthew Walsh, MD, of the Digestive Disease Institute.
L-R: Mindy Rich, Robert E. Rich Jr., R. Matthew Walsh, MD (seated), Ted Rich, Nena Rich
“The seriousness of the situation was reflected in his decision to go to surgery at 9 on Friday night,” says Ted Rich’s father, Robert E. Rich Jr., of the family’s 2007 experience. Although he and his wife, Mindy, were struck by Dr. Walsh’s youth and confidence, they also were impressed by his waiting until that Friday night to perform surgery, following a careful assessment of Ted’s acute pancreatitis. Carefully weighing the urgency and complexity of the situation, Dr. Walsh “was not rushing to do surgery,” Robert Rich says.
In the days that followed, the Riches grew to admire Dr. Walsh even more. “He was there for us 100 percent,” Robert Rich says. “He stayed on the case and has been the captain of Ted’s team.”
On Feb. 10, 2009, Ted Rich, his wife, Nena, and Robert and Mindy Rich stood beside Dr. Walsh to dedicate the Rich Family Distinguished Chair in Digestive Diseases, made possible by the family’s gift of $2 million. Dr. Walsh is the first to hold the chair, established in his honor to support research in the Digestive Disease Institute.
For a “Healthier Tomorrow’
The gift “is for an institution that we’ve come to know and love, and for a young man we’ve come to care about,” said Robert Rich, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Board of Trustees Development Committee and Today’s Innovations, Tomorrow’s Healthcare: Campaign for Cleveland Clinic.
Ted Rich concurred. “Since I got sick, I have had a dream team,” he said, referring to his family and medical providers. “Dr. Walsh is a tremendous leader, and we want to help him realize his dreams of a healthier tomorrow.”
Mindy Rich, a Vice Chair of the Campaign for Cleveland Clinic, praised Dr. Walsh’s humanity, particularly his sense of humor, during what otherwise was “a very serious time” for their family.
“This family appreciates a good sense of humor,” she said, noting that Dr. Walsh often wears whimsical lapel pins. She presented one to him depicting a chair.
Joseph Hahn, MD, Cleveland Clinic Chief of Staff, says that the chair is important to research. “It allows Dr. Walsh and his colleagues to research ‘out of the box.’ An endowed chair brings a lot to the patients and helps us recruit medical staff. It helps us to improve lives and well-being. This gift touches a lot of people.”
This story first appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Catalyst
To make a gift supporting the Digestive Disease Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.