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Pay it Forward: Raising money for UI's 'Child Life' program

(Photo courtesy: Matt Kemmerer).
(Photo courtesy: Matt Kemmerer).
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Matt Kemmerer is no stranger to the inside of a hospital, having been in one cumulatively for almost 3 years.

"I was diagnosed at 6 months old," said Kemmerer. "They noticed a pattern of I would get sick and not getting better, like a normal kid would."

Matt has Chronic Granulomatous Disease, which weakens his body's abilities to fight off certain types of bacteria and fungi that can make him sick.

"It would be nothing for me to be hospitalized 3-4 times a year," he said.

Now much older, and on the cusp of turning 40, Matt wants to give back to those who took care of him at the University of Iowa Stead Children's Hospital Child Life program. Through a fundraiser via his Venmo account, he's asking for $.40 cent donations to be collected up until his birthday on March 25.

"If I could raise a few hundred dollars, they could get a handful of video games or some movies, something that the kids can use every day," he said. "It helps bring a sense of normalcy to kids so they don’t have to focus on being sick all the time.

Matt says the added touch of doctors and nurses being there for him outside the realm of patient care was integral to him feeling better.

"Doctors and nurses are obviously vital to making you healthy, but the child life therapists are there to take you to scary procedures, or just hold your hand or talk. It's really important to know those program are there to use."

Matt doesn't get sick nearly as frequently as he did when he was younger, and still keeps in touch with many that cared for him all those years ago.

The fundraiser ends March 25. Those interested can contribute through Kemmerer's Venmo account.

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Matt plans to transfer the money to a cashier's check and give to the hospital.

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