Dalums Support Research, Student Experiences

Tom and Margaret Dalum and Chelsea Kiehl
Tom and Maripat Dalum provided funding for medical student Chelsea Kiehl to attend a week at the 2016 Summer Institute for Medical Students program at the Betty Ford Center.

Philanthropy, prayer and pleasant happen-stance are deeply rooted in the sunken rose garden at the lake home of Tom and Maripat Dalum in Hartland, Wisconsin. It is there the Dalums, longtime supporters of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), have continued to nurture their mutual philosophy of giving back by offering the use of their garden for charitable events.

"I think it was part of our Christian upbringing, that you should be thankful for what you have and use your talents and give back in ways that you can," says Maripat. "Our philosophy, which we've discussed with our children, is 'learn, earn and return,' and they've started giving, too."

The Dalums' ability to match financial capacity with their philanthropic philosophy took many years. Maripat chose to forgo her career as an occupational therapist to raise their children – Joe, Marikris, Amy and Judie – on a tight budget. At the same time, she did a lot of volunteering for various organizations.

In 1964, Tom began working for Dalum's Utility Equipment Company, the business his father, CE "Pete" Dalum, started in 1955 with just four employees in a bedroom office at the family home. After his father died in 1979, Tom became president and CEO, and the company expanded. By the time it was sold, Tom had started another business of his own and bought additional companies.

The use of a rose garden in their philanthropic endeavors came in a roundabout way and with plenty of praying from Maripat. An arthritic knee convinced her that they needed to move from their two-story to a house with bedrooms on the main level, and she suggested they try to live on a lake. Their search for a lake home ultimately stretched to two years. "I started saying a prayer: Lord, help us to find the place that's right for us," says Maripat, "and when it's right, I know I shouldn't ask for a sign, but could there be a rose somewhere on the property?"

No rose emerged until Maripat revisited a lake property she thought they'd lost to another bidder. There, to her surprise, was a rose garden previously hidden by snow. When the deal with the other bidders fell through, Maripat and Tom had their lake property. There, they've held events to benefit juvenile diabetes research and between 15 and 20 charitable organizations.

The Dalums' community philanthropy runs side-by-side with their support of student financial aid, cancer research and endowed research funds for Parkinson's disease and arthritis at MCW.

Tom and Maripat also provide annual funding for an MCW medical student to attend a week at the Summer Institute for Medical Students (SIMS) program at the Betty Ford Center. The summer of 2016's participant, Chelsea Kiehl (Class of 2019), was immersed in the daily life of patients in treatment at the Center in Rancho Mirage, California.

The "patient buddy" assigned to Chelsea was a 21-year-old college graduate. "I'd never have thought that my buddy had a heroin addiction, upon first impression," she shares. "This young adult was so bright and talented. The experience opened my eyes to the types of people who can be fighting with addiction. I can never thank the Dalums enough for the opportunity to participate in such a life-changing experience."

As part of the program, Chelsea met with the Dalums to report on her experience and "absolutely loved meeting them."

Chelsea Kiehl, MCW Class of 2019

Summer Institute for Medical Students participant at the Betty Ford Center
 

Chelsea Kiehl, an Army Health Professions Scholarship Program recipient, is an Army reservist. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in autumn 2015, Chelsea will switch to active duty once her residency begins. Her interest in military psychiatry was her motivation for applying to this program.

Residency preference: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD

Potential specialties: pediatric, adolescent or adult psychiatry and perhaps family medicine

Tom notes, "I think the students come back with an understanding that there are people who really can't control addiction, that it's a disease, that they don't know how to cope, that people were genetically born different."

That perspective on addiction led to Tom and Maripat's creation in 2015 of the Dalum Scholar in Addiction Research, a program that empowers a bright MCW student in the neurosciences to explore innovative approaches to addiction treatment.

The Dalums believe that their investment in MCW, especially endowments, provide a long-lasting benefit of research and education unique to the institution. "We've been so blessed," says Maripat, "and whatever talents and gifts God gives you should be shared."

– John Burlingham
 

MCW Magazine: Philanthropy story MCW Magazine: Scholarship story
PHILANTHROPY | SCHOLARSHIP

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