They made Charlotte better in 2016

Meg McElwain holds a photo of her son, Mitchell Turner who died at the age of 2 from leukemia. McElwain started a fund in his name and it now gives out grants to help families with very serious pediatric diagnoses. Jeff Siner This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Each year, the Observer’s editorial board searches for the heroes among us who made our region better. This year, we’ve found people who provided blankets for children with cancer – and financial assistance for their families. We’ve found people who’ve helped job seekers and people who gave their time, their passion – and their blood. For all they do, we say thank you!

Meg McElwain

Meg McElwain started Magnolia Marketing in 2003, providing marketing, strategic planning and event-planning for clients including major nonprofits. Then, a tragedy prompted her to put all those skills and energy to work for others.

McElwain and her husband, Frank Turner, endured the greatest sadness a parent can face: Their 2-year-old son, Mitchie, died in 2014 after a lifelong fight with leukemia. Since shortly after Mitchie’s diagnosis, the Mitchell Bays Turner Pediatric Fund has worked to help other families whose children face serious illness.

The fund has paid for rent, utilities, funerals and other needs. This year it also started funding a clinical play therapist at Novant Health to help children navigate their challenge.

“Parents need to be there 100 percent for their child, emotionally, physically, mentally,” McElwain says. “If we can relieve the stress of a rent payment, then we’re going to do that.”

Next up: An initiative targeting pediatric mental health. Mitchell’s Fund is partnering with the Foundation for the Carolinas and its Children’s Medical Fund to underwrite a study identifying Charlotte’s most pressing needs in pediatric mental health. A final report is expected in April.

The full article can be read here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article123700784.html