Parents Keep Son’s Memory Alive by Helping Other Children Smile

Mark KreuschSuzie Kreusch believes in “silver linings.” When she and her husband Jon lost their four-year-old son Mark in a boating accident in 2007, it was this belief that led them to find the positive in something so unmistakably tragic.

“Mark had a zest for life that showed through in his smile and giggle,” Suzie Kreusch said. “We want to carry on his spirit by doing things in the community that put smiles on other children’s faces, especially those who are less fortunate.”

The Kreusch family’s desire to help children also was fueled by others who wanted to do something in Mark’s honor. Just days after their son’s passing, Suzie and Jon Kreusch established a Charitable Checking Account℠ (CCA) through The Dayton Foundation to receive donations. They since have converted the CCA into a permanent endowment fund of the Centerville-Washington Foundation, a component fund group of The Dayton Foundation, and named it the Mark Andrew Kreusch Memorial Fund.

“We chose The Dayton Foundation because of the flexibility and support we receive in carrying out our charitable wishes,” Mrs. Kreusch said. “They have a good reputation in the community, but most of all they gave us the opportunity to continue our wishes in perpetuity.”

“The passion that people are committing to this fund is the same passion that Mark [Kreusch] lived his life with every day.” Jon Kreusch, donor

Since 2008, more than $150,000 in grants from their fund has been distributed to help children in need. When possible, little reminders of Mark have been incorporated into projects supported by the fund. “For My Friends. Love, Mark Kreusch,” is engraved on playground equipment purchased for Christ the King Preschool. As part of the renovations to a youth activity room at Oak Tree Corner, a center for grieving youth, the artist surprised the family by painting one of the characters in the room’s sports arena décor in Mark’s likeness. The fund also has helped to purchase 80 school supply kits for students at Grafton Kennedy Elementary in Dayton and sponsored a magic show for A Kid Again, an organization dedicated to children dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

In 2011 the fund awarded an $18,000 grant to Life Enrichment Center for the construction of “MAK Town Safety Village,” in honor of Mark Andrew Kreusch. The simulated city features 10 scaled-down buildings, traffic signals, street signs and pedal cars, and helps kindergarten through fourth grade children learn bicycle and pedestrian safety.

“The grant from the Mark Andrew Kreusch Memorial Fund was crucial in our ability to move forward with MAK Town Safety Village. This program enables us to impact the lives of countless at-risk children in the Miami Valley,” said Jeff Sorrell, executive director of Life Enrichment Center.

Perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of the fund is the family’s and other supporters’ efforts to grow it. “The passion that people are committing to this fund is the same passion that Mark lived his life with every day,” Jon Kreusch said.

Past fundraising events include family nights at the Dayton Dragon’s field, the Mark A. Kreusch Memorial Youth Baseball Tournament at Action Sports Center, the Miles for Mark 5k, and The MAK-A-Thon 100 Holes of Golf, a golf tournament in which 30 participants each completed 100 holes of golf in less than 10 hours.

“Mark absolutely loved sports. And to see his family and friends coming together to honor him at these events, I know this would make him so happy,” Suzie Kreusch said.

Impact Update:

The Mark Andrew Kreusch Memorial Fund also has supported the following projects or organizations by awarding grants to:

  • assist with the purchase of a transportation van for The Victory Project, an organization to help young men stay off the streets;
  • provide thousands of shoes for children in need through Shoes 4 the Shoeless;
  • send children to the Reds Rookie Success League camp;
  • help terminally ill children attend camp at Flying Horse Farm;
  • support the construction of the Ronald McDonald House family room at Dayton Children’s Hospital;
  • purchase beds for children through Secret Smiles;
  • sponsor a free family night at the Boonshoft Museum;
  • provide scholarships for girls to participate in Girls On The Run;
  • furnish nurseries for babies born addicted to drugs at Brigid’s Path;
  • help facilitate construction of a covered arena for horses and patients of River of Hope Ranch;
  • install movable bleachers and mounting blocks to help disabled children climb onto a horse at Therapeutic Riding Institute;
  • upgrade the media room of the Sightless Children’s Club; and
  • build two safety schools for young children in Centerville and Dayton.

Said Suzie and Jon Kreusch, “We are in awe of the support the MAK Fund has received from the Dayton community. As we pass the 10th anniversary of Mark’s accident, we can’t help but thank the ambassadors, advisory board members, volunteers and our fabulous donors who have helped us keep Mark’s spirit alive through these wonderful gifts to the youngest members of our community.”

For recent news and updates about The Dayton Foundation, read our press releases online.

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File date: 9.05.17


Susan Harker

“We opened Charitable Checking Accounts for each of our adult children for Christmas. These accounts will encourage them to think about and support the organizations and causes they care about most. It’s a great way to teach children of any age about the joy of giving.” – Susan Harker, a Charitable Checking Account℠ donor since 1994

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