Local Spotlight: The Dragonfly Foundation

Since 2010, the Dragonfly Foundation has been serving patients and their families affected by pediatric cancer. The Foundation’s motto is “We do what we can, when we can, as often as we can!” From creating happy distractions and memories to providing a home away from home, the Dragonfly Foundation helps to create a sense of normalcy in trying times.

Southwest Ohio Parent talked to Greg Vehr, senior vice president of development at the Dragonfly Foundation, about this nonprofit that’s helping families find a place to land after a pediatric cancer diagnosis.

How did the Dragonfly Foundation get started?

After enduring the grueling diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage 3 with their son, Matt, the Neitzke family felt committed to assisting other families going through childhood cancer experiences. Together, Christine Neitzke, her husband, Jim, and a friend started working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on how best to do that. Since then, Dragonfly has grown considerably and continues to provide comfort and joy to the families of pediatric cancer patients.

How do families connect with you?

When families are admitted to the hospital with a cancer diagnosis, they are given a big blue care bag from the Dragonfly Foundation. The bag contains personal care items and an application to become a Dragonfly. Additionally, social workers inform families about opportunities available to them outside the hospital. The family then decides whether to contact Dragonfly.

What impact does the Dragonfly Foundation have on the families it serves?

The impact TDF has on families fighting cancer is best said by the families themselves:

“Your generosity has given [my son] days when he can relax and forget about the enemy and the battlefield.”

“[Dragonfly] helps you get through the day knowing you’ve created memories, other than being in the hospital and having cancer and having to be treated like you’re sick, all the time. It’s very important, and The Dragonfly Foundation has given us that.”

“Dragonfly gave our family things to look forward to. If I look back at the last year, yes, my child had cancer and we were going through all these terrible things, but we also have all these awesome memories of seeing our children experience new things for the first time. Those would not have been true without Dragonfly.”

What do you have planned for the future?

Our mission is singularly focused on supporting families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis. We strive to enhance those programs and services and make them available to more families.

How did Hall of Fame Reds Broadcaster Marty Brennaman get involved?

Former Reds radio broadcaster and celebrity Marty Brennaman lost a bet to Reds players and coaches about whether the team could win 10 straight games. His friend made him aware of Dragonfly and its mission, and Marty agreed to honor the Dragonfly Foundation and children fighting cancer when he had his head shaved after a Reds game at Great American Ball Park in 2012.

How can people help the Dragonfly Foundation?

Donations are welcome and will have an immediate impact on families. For more information, go to dragonfly.org.

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