When a scratch-off lottery game changed Brian Heitmann’s life, one of his priorities became helping kids and families at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Brenner Children’s.
Heitmann, a 44-year-old resident of Winston-Salem, won $2 million playing the NC Education Lottery in July 2021.
“I knew almost immediately that I wanted to give to various charities,” said Heitmann.
One of those charities was Brenner Children’s, the only children’s hospital serving the Triad and northwest North Carolina. Before moving to Winston-Salem about 10 years ago, Heitmann worked in Atlanta, where he was involved with a children’s hospital.
“I knew what a difference children’s hospitals make,” he said. “Brenner was the local hospital for me, and the more I read about it, the more it made sense. With the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, I assumed charitable donations may have been down. To me, it was the right thing to do.”
His $25,000 gift is supporting the Brenner Children’s Patient Assistance Fund, which helps families with travel expenses, medications, meals, bereavement services, home health equipment and much more. The gift also will benefit the Child Life Department, which serves all pediatric patients and normalizes the hospital environment by celebrating holidays, birthdays and special events, as well as operating playrooms and a teen room.
Heitmann’s gift was part of the Cheers! for Brenner Children’s annual fundraising event, and thus also benefitted from a matching gift made by Cheers! sponsor, Simply Southern.
“I hope it will ease some of the burden on parents in some of the most difficult times they may ever face with a child in the hospital,” Heitmann said. “More importantly, hopefully it will help make the kids smile. It’s all for the kids, that next generation. When they see an example of how you should act as an adult, hopefully they’ll emulate that when they grow up.”