Celebrating Life and Hope by Supporting Trauma Service
By the time Philip Wecker died, the 3-year-old had had 42 surgeries, most performed by then senior pediatric resident Chuck Paidas at Hopkins Children’s. He could not survive the brutal consequences of a rare genetic disorder known as X-Linked Autoimmunity Allergic Dysregulation Syndrome (XLADD). At Hopkins, pediatric hematologist George Dover, his immunologist Howard Lederman and a multitude of other specialists had fought to save his little son’s life, says Dan Wecker: “They were remarkable people who truly cared about us. When Philip died, we began our fundraising relationship with Hopkins.”
Dr. Paidas, who became the director of Hopkins Children’s pediatric trauma service, invited Wecker to be a celebrity chef in “Caring Cuisine,” a fundraiser for the trauma service. Owner and executive chef of the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge, MD., Wecker agreed.
Born with the genetic condition that had taken his brother’s life and later a cousin’s, Cameron Wecker, at the age of 9, received a bone marrow transplant at Hopkins Children’s in 2000. It was and is the only known cure for this primary immune disorder. In 2006, the Weckers' immunologist, Howard Lederman, helped identified the genetic mutation responsible for X-LADD.
To demonstrate their ongoing appreciation to Johns Hopkins, under whose care Cameron was now growing up, Dan Wecker, a French-trained chef, and his wife Donna decided to host their own grassroots fundraiser. “We felt that the trauma team served one of the largest communities of sick children and desperate families in the region,” he says.
This past year, the family hosted its 15th Bastille Day Celebration at their Inn to support the team – the designated pediatric trauma service for the State of Maryland. The evening of wine tasting and a silent auction raised more than $35,000.
“The event has grown every year,” says Donna Wecker. “It’s thrilling to have such support for this cause.”
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