Motivation follows action. For Eric and Marion Stolte, their relationship with the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) began when they took action and were attendees and volunteers at the WFH’s Hemophilia 2000 World Congress in Montreal, Canada. “It was an eye-opening experience!” expressed Marion. The impact of meeting the international delegates and hearing their stories inspired both of them to further engage with the WFH’s vision of Treatment for All.
The Stoltes’ story began when they helped attendees in wheelchairs get around the Congress venue. They were surprised at the mobility issues faced by so many of the international patient attendees, especially those who were younger than their son, who has hemophilia and was in his early twenties. “It just wasn’t something that we were cognizant of previously,” Eric admitted. This volunteer experience was the spark that motivated the couple to become proactively engaged with the WFH as both volunteers and donors.
One powerful moment for Eric came on his initial in-country assessment visit in 2001 to Mongolia. He explains that the experience, “Really lit their fire,” and their desire to begin financially supporting the WFH in a meaningful way. During that visit Eric met a young boy who had severe hemophilia A. Even though he was living in a major urban centre, the only treatment he had at home was a half-used reconstituted vial of FVIII, his mother saving the rest for the next bleed.
Their decision to support the WFH was fueled by their, “Desire to partner with an agency that is effective in saving the lives of people living with a bleeding disorder in developing countries.” They both acknowledged a deep confidence in the leadership of the WFH and the staff, and an appreciation of the transparency the WFH practices when reporting fund usage. Marion acknowledged, “If you have a question, call and you’ll get answer. There will be a person on the other end of the line. I know my gift will make a difference internationally. It will be stewarded properly to change and save lives.”
In addition to their volunteer engagement—which includes Eric serving on the WFH Board of Directors, and holding the position of VP Finance and Chair of the Awards Committee—the duo has the unique distinction of being part of the Canadian Hemophilia Society and the Hemophilia Society of Bangladesh Twinning Program—a Twinning Program that received the 2016 Twin of the Year Award. They are also the first donors of the WFH to give on a monthly basis. What’s more, they have continued their monthly support longer than anyone, and are now part of the newly launched WFH Caregiver Program. They hope this article will encourage more people to become monthly supporters for the WFH, as Marion reminds us: “Monthly giving is the backbone to steady income for an organization.” Indeed, it was the Stoltes’ desire to not only give, but also to set an example that others might follow in the name of Treatment for All. This hope and desire to inspire and engage others in giving continues with the Stoltes today.
The Stoltes’ philanthropy is guided by their passions and personal experiences. As Marion explains, “We give to causes that speak to our hearts.” Hemophilia has always been a part of their lives as Marion is a hemophilia carrier and their son has hemophilia A. Marion recalls that they wanted to, “Give back after having received so much. I want to see other peoples’ lives made better, as ours has been”.
From the moment their eyes were opened to the daily difficulties faced by people living with a bleeding disorder in developing countries, the Stoltes were determined to make a difference internationally. While they continue to support their local and national hemophilia organizations, they also donate to the WFH because, for them, it “is the most effective organization with an international focus and mission.”
For Eric and Marion, giving is a two-way exchange. While the WFH benefits from their financial support, for them, giving is very personal. They reflect, “As you get involved in giving, there is a joy that causes you to become a more generous person in all aspects of your life.”
To become a WFH Caregiver today and support the WFH mission by making a monthly donation, click here. To explore other ways of giving, please visit www.wfh.org/donate. To see how you can make an impact today, click here.