After young Charlie Walter lost his father Donald to a seven-year battle with renal failure in 2020, he started saving spare change in a “Best Dad Ever” mug he had given to his father for Father’s Day.
In 2021, he brought his mug to Rehoboth Elementary, where he decided to start a fundraiser after speaking with a school social worker who encouraged the idea as part of his healing process.
Charlie raised $646 for Beebe Healthcare and donated it to Beebe Medical Foundation in August 2021.
At a special event in Beebe Healthcare’s Sunshine Café June 14, hospital officials, community members and Charlie’s family gathered to recognize Charlie’s donation and reveal a few surprises.
Beebe Healthcare President and CEO Dr. David Tam said when the hospital posted the news of Charlie’s donation in memory of the care his father received on its Facebook page a year ago, it caught on fire.
“Charlie and his family represent what Beebe Healthcare is all about and why we do what we do,” Tam said. “We’re really excited about being able to honor both Charlie, Donald and the family in terms of what’s next.”
Beebe Medical Foundation President Tom Protack said after Charlie’s donation last year, the hospital challenged employees to match Charlie’s gift.
“You were here for Beebe, and now we’re here for you because we have a big announcement for you,” Protack said.
Beebe employees raised $15,500 in memory of Donald Walker since last August, Protack said. “And now it gets even better.”
Chesapeake Utilities donated another $15,500 to match employee donations for a total of $31,000 raised for Charlie’s Challenge, Protack said.
Melissa Stamper, community affairs director for Chesapeake Utilities, said when foundation officials reached out to her company, they didn’t give it a second thought.
“One of the values at Chesapeake is we care,” Stamper said. “And what better way to show that we care than to participate within our community.”
Funds will go into Beebe Healthcare’s general operating fund to help people in accordance with Charlie’s wish, Protack said.
“If there's anybody else out there who wants to match that $31,000, why let it stop here?” Protack asked. “All that in memory of your dad. It's an amazing gift.”
Kay Young, Beebe Medical Foundation executive director of development, said employees in 30 departments were gratified to participate in something so impactful after a rough couple of years.
“And, Charlie got to pick the photo to dedicate in memory of his father,” Young said.
Charlie chose a photo made by Red Moulinier called “Sunrise at Rehoboth Beach” to be dedicated as healing art in honor of his father to hang on the wall of the Sunshine Café.
Asked how it feels to raise so much money for the hospital, Charlie simply beamed and said, “Good!”