Impact of Giving

These are the stories of the individuals and foundations who help advance Chicago medicine and science through their vision and philanthropy.


Leshem family

Donor Stories

Family Supports Pediatric Research

In 2006, Highland Park residents Andrea and Ben Leshem faced a new normal. In the midst of a family vacation with their four boys, they noticed a small bump on the back of their then 6-year-old son, Bradley. It was cancer. “We were in shock and disbelief," admits Ben. "It was a very scary experience."

When the Leshems met Dr. James Nachman, a leading pediatric oncologist at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, their fears were replaced with hope. “Dr. Nachman gave us a big hug and said ‘we’re going to fix Bradley,’” Ben says. “He didn’t throw a bunch of statistics at us. Instead, he gave us an idea of what to expect during the year-long treatment for Bradley and gave us the confidence we needed."

Nachman—affectionately known as "Doc Nach"—died suddenly last summer at the age of 62. In his memory, a community of his friends and former patients established the James B. Nachman Pediatric Cancer Research Fund, which, to date, has garnered more than $60,000. In conjunction, the Leshems played a large role this year in supporting pediatric research by raising more than $80,000 for the 9th Annual Comer Kids’ Classic 5k Walk/Run, in honor of Nachman.

Ben’s company, HLM Capital Management of Wells Fargo Advisors, was also a sponsor of the race, contributing $25,000 as title sponsors. These funds will support promising young investigators in the Department of Pediatrics, allowing them to grow their careers and advance research to benefit children in Chicago and beyond.

Courage Under Tough Circumstances

“What led us to give was our desire to further research in pediatric cancer,” says Ben. “Watching our son go through the long road of treatment to cure this horrible disease was a humbling experience, but Bradley’s courage and addictive smile kept us going. We wanted to do what we could to help further Dr. Nachman’s and others’ research in pediatric cancer.”

Bradley is now a vibrant 12-year-old who recently entered the 7th grade. He is excelling in sports and school, largely in part to the care of Dr. Nachman, the nursing staff, and many others who supported the Leshems throughout their son’s treatment.

Well aware of the fact that children do not often have the words to verbalize their medical conditions, Child Life Specialist Jenn Loewy went to Bradley’s school and visited his and his brother’s classes to explain what Bradley was going through to their classmates.

“Visiting classrooms helps teach students about a topic that most of them have little to no experience with, other than maybe a parent or grandparent; typically someone older,” Loewy says. “However, they do not understand what it means. We reinforced that cancer is not contagious, rare, or the person’s fault.”

As the Leshems headed to the starting line at the Comer Kids’ Classic this year with all family members present, Ben couldn’t help but think of Dr. Nachman—who always greeted his son by saying "hello, star,"—and the entire medical team who rallied around his family.

“They made us feel like a winning team,” adds Ben. “This was a battle and it felt like everybody was pulling for us. They gave us the confidence to be brave through the process.”

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