During the summer of 2005, Eric Dolch was like most teenagers, hanging out with his buddies, playing paintball and getting ready to attend high school at Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach.
In mid-June, Eric – then 14 -- started having headaches and developed a low-grade fever. Four days later he was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Medical Center/Nicklaus Children’s Hospital after he awoke disoriented and unable to see well. After having seizures in the ER, doctors diagnosed Eric with a severe case of encephalitis due to a brain infection and he was placed in a medically-induced coma to protect his brain.
Eric was quickly airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital, where he remained in the coma for 115 days, a record at the time at the hospital. Eric was alive but he had been left severely disabled by the encephalitis. In early 2006, Eric flew on a medical jet to Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston for 2 ½ months, but was unable to make much progress with his rehabilitation because of seizures.
Eric was airlifted back to Miami Children’s Hospital (now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital) before finally returning home on Labor Day weekend in 2006 after more than 15 months in hospitals. He eventually underwent two brain operations to help prevent the seizures.
Now 32, Eric continues to make recovery from his near-fatal illness in West Palm Beach by taking part in physical therapy weekly, and speech therapy and swimming occasionally. Eric has had a lot of challenges in his life, but he continues to confront them with courage and a strong will to live.
Frequently asked questions about the Eric Dolch Children's Encephalitis Foundation.
Is the Foundation a non-profit organization?
The Foundation has applied for 501(c)(3) non-profit designation by the Internal Revenue Code. That process takes between six and nine months. Meantime, The Eric Dolch Children's Encephalitis Foundation is incorporated with the State of Florida (Tax ID number is 71-1000374) and can operate as a foundation until it officially receives that designation from the IRS.
Why was the Foundation formed?
After Eric Dolch, then a 14-year-old from West Palm Beach, Fla., was diagnosed with a severe form of encephalitis in 2005, his family decided to form a foundation to help other families deal with a loved one who has encephalitis and epilepsy-related illnesses. We not only want to raise money for research, care and treatment, but also raise awareness for epilepsy and improving the quality of medical treatment for children in the U.S.
How Does the Foundation raise its money?
The Eric Dolch Children’s Encephalitis Foundation has raised more than $100,000, mostly through a pair of charity golf tournaments, a charity poker tournament and private donations. We plan on having another golf tournament in the next year and we will provide information as the details are finalized.
Can I raise money for the Foundation?
Absolutely. We are grateful for any support of people throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world who raise money for us through benefits, auctions, walkathon or marathon sponsorships. Please include basic information about your event or when you send us the funds you've raised. Unfortunately, due to our small staff, we are unable to provide direct logistical or personnel support outside of the fundraising events organized in-house.
When we donate money, is it tax-deductible?
Absolutely. All donors will be given a receipt that they can deduct from that year's taxes. Foundations are excellent ways for individual to ease their tax burdens with donations -- through either cash or stocks.
Will we be offering funding for medical research grants?
Yes. Exact plans on how to apply for grants will be announced soon.
How can I make a donation?
Donations are gladly accepted by mail or online.
The mailing address for donations is:
The Eric Dolch Children's Encephalitis Foundation
c/o Craig Dolch
511 Lucerne Ave., No. 402
Lake Worth Beach, FL 33460
(Please do not mail cash.)
Can I make a donation in honor or in memory of someone?
Absolutely. Donate online.