Illness couldn’t keep him from helping others
By Rebecca Vachon
At age 11, Mitch Stone was diagnosed with brain cancer and started undergoing treatment. Despite this, Mitch maintained a positive attitude – and developed a love for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“Whenever he would have to come back for a checkup, we’d be walking down that main hallway that leads to the cafeteria,” said Mitch’s mother, Dee Stone. “One day he looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I love this place.’ ”
After he was declared cancer-free, Mitch knew he wanted to help others with similar conditions and give back to the place that helped him. With the help of the University of Cincinnati’s football team, which adopted Mitch when he was going through treatment, Mitch’s Mission was born.
“We knew that whatever we did, we wanted to help kids with cancer,” Dee said. The family started Mitch’s Mission, a foundation that helps patients from Children’s attend summer camp, where kids are allowed to be kids regardless of their diagnosis.
Putting other people first
“He had that personality streak of putting other people first from when he was young,” Dee said. “He was very empathetic and a very good listener. He would listen to what you had to say and be truly interested in the answer.”
Mitch’s Mission raised more than $135,000 to help medically fragile patients attend summer camp, but Mitch wasn’t done there. He used his own experience with cancer to support the patients his organization sent to camp.
“When we sent people to camp, he was also a camper. He got to meet some of the other cancer patients, and they got to be friends,” Dee said. “When he knew someone was going through a difficult procedure, he would make sure to reach out to them.”
Mitch also joined the Patient Advisory Council at Children’s, where he used his experience to advocate for patients, helping to create a better experience for patients and their families.
Having a say in the process
Mitch loved being on the council “because he felt like he was able to give back to Cincinnati Children’s and he was able to have a say in things that they were considering doing and try out things before they were implemented,” Dee said.
After serving eight years on the council, Mitch continued to give back whenever possible.
“When he got to UC, he was on the executive committee of the dance marathon that raises money for cancer patients and cancer research,” said Dee. “He did a lot of fundraisers through his fraternity and was in charge of one of the big philanthropic events one year. He was all about giving back.”
Mitch graduated with a business degree from UC in May 2020, then lived at home while rehabbing a house he purchased with his twin brother, Nick. He was also learning the family optical business.
About four years ago, Mitch began having seizures; he took medicine for them, but it was ultimately a seizure that caused his death this past January at the age of 23.
His impact on those around him lives on.
“After Mitch passed, a few of his fellow patients that served on the patient advisory council with him reached out to tell me how he had helped them personally,” explained Dee. “He was a caring person, that’s kind of just who he was.”
The NPD 2021 Honorees
Philanthropists of the Year: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter
Volunteer of the Year: Debbie Brant
Lifetime Achievement in Fundraising: Suzy Dorward
Organization of the Year: Legacy Foundations of Louis & Louise Nippert
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Mitch Stone (in memoriam)
Innovator of the Year: United Way’s Champions of Change