University of Wisconsin–Madison

$1.25 million legacy gift will support brain injury research at the Waisman Center

Stocker family

A new legacy gift will help researchers and clinicians at the Waisman Center continue to search for ways to benefit individuals and families whose lives have been impacted by brain injuries and developmental disabilities.

This significant gift comes from Richard and Johanna Stocker, who recently made the decision to include the Waisman Center in their trust for an estimated $1.25 million.

“We are truly honored by Richard and Johanna’s generosity and foresight. Their estate gift will enhance and expand our ability to continue vital, innovative research and help those affected by brain injuries.” said Albee Messing, VMD, PhD, a professor of neuropathology and the director of the Waisman Center.

Richard and Johanna’s gift was motivated in part by their son Jimmy’s lifelong stay in the Southern Wisconsin Center in Union Grove, WI. “When Jimmy was born he was diagnosed with pre- and post-birth brain injuries,” says Richard. Eventually it became impossible to care and manage for Jimmy at home and at age seven he was admitted to the Southern Wisconsin Center. “Through these years, he has been taken very good care of and we wanted to pay back Wisconsin.”

Both Richard and Johanna wanted their gift to support research into the causes and potential treatments for brain injuries. “We thought there wasn’t enough support for long term research endeavors and when we started looking at research institutions, we found that the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Waisman Center were right there at the top,” says Richard.

About six years ago, the Stockers had established a fund to support stem cell research at UW-Madison. “We realized that wasn’t broad enough and wanted to support a wider breadth of research,” says Richard.

This legacy gift will help several investigators at the Waisman Center continue to pursue their research, which is exactly what Richard and Johanna want. “The way anybody solves problems is that you take a big one and you break it down into smaller ones and you start pursuing them,” says Richard, “and we hope our gift facilitates just that.”

Research and translating findings into treatments or therapies can be a long, painstaking process, and the Stockers are aware of that. “I always figured you could overcome anything if you took enough time,” says Richard. “What I didn’t realize was quite how much time some things take and how fast life goes by.”

“We know research findings made possible by our gift probably won’t help our family, but we hope it will make a difference to individuals and families in the future,” says Johanna.

By Adityarup “Rup” Chakravorty, Waisman Communications