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Family becomes beneficiaries of their own goodwill

20170109ZerilloWhen Nick and Jodi Zerillo decided to include Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in their wills, they were still in their twenties—and their three daughters were yet to be born. Never would they have predicted that years later they would become beneficiaries of their own goodwill.

In 2006, Nick and Jodi were expecting their third child, Angelina, when a routine ultrasound revealed a birth defect causing her internal organs to grow outside of her abdomen. Stunned, they asked what their physician would do in their situation. “If it were my child,” the doctor responded, “I’d go to Children’s.”

Nick and Jodi first met with specialists at the Fetal Concerns Center, which is dedicated to high-risk pregnancies and newborn care. When Angelina was born, the staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s provided outstanding care as she recovered from two corrective surgeries.

Nine years later, Children’s would once again play a life-changing role in the Zerillos’ story. Since 2008, their middle daughter, Sophia, had suffered from seizures. A series of medications and visits to the Mayo Clinic had brought no relief. Then, in 2015, a breakthrough: surgeons at Children’s successfully removed a portion of her brain to stop the seizures.

These firsthand experiences only solidified the Zerillos’ early decision to designate Children’s in their will. Since then, they have found more ways to make a difference, such as volunteering as peer counselors to families at Children’s facing similar challenges.

Today, Nick and Jodi cherish the small moments with their thriving family, from their daughters’ impromptu tea parties to coaching their softball teams. They encourage everyone to share this mindset of gratitude: “Count your blessings and think about how you can pay it forward. Take a moment to reflect on how you can give back.”

Nick and Jodi’s decision to make Children’s one of the beneficiaries in their will was serendipitous and simple.