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Herma Heart Institute

Ladish Company Foundation donates $1 million to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Gift will support research and clinical innovation to eradicate congenital heart disease


Children’s Wisconsin has received a $1 million gift from the Ladish Company Foundation to support the $8 million challenge gift from the Herma family. Announced in April, the Herma Heart Challenge benefits the nationally ranked Herma Heart Institute and supports ongoing research and clinical innovation focused on eradicating congenital heart defects, as well as revolutionizing programs designed to improve the quality of life for pediatric heart patients and their families.

The Ladish Company Foundation was established in 1952 by the company’s founders with the goals of investing in organizations that make Milwaukee a great place to live and improving the lives of Ladish Company employees. Previously based in Cudahy, Wis., in 2011, Ladish Company merged with specialty metals maker Allegheny Technologies Inc. 

“We believe that Children’s Wisconsin is one of the most important investments individuals can make in Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin,” said Wayne Larsen and Gary Vroman, retired Ladish Company executives and trustees of the Ladish Company Foundation. “What inspires us most is the comfort Children’s brings to families who are often facing their toughest challenges. They can walk through the doors to Children’s Wisconsin and immediately know they are not alone. That’s exactly how the Herma family felt 30 years ago when their daughter was cared for at Children’s Wisconsin, and hearing their story inspired us to give to the Herma Heart Challenge.”

The Ladish Company Foundation’s gifts to Children’s — totaling nearly $3 million over 40 years — have provided support to initiatives such as the West Tower addition, the neonatal intensive care unit renovation, the interventional radiology program, the Herma Heart Center’s hybrid catheterization lab and the diabetes program.

“The diversity of important Children’s Wisconsin initiatives that the Ladish Company Foundation has supported over the last four decades reflects their confidence that Children’s is always seeking the best way to help kids,” said Meg Brzyski Nelson, president of Children’s Wisconsin Foundation. “This latest example of their generosity puts us well on our way to completing the Herma Heart Challenge and supports our shared goal of eradicating congenital heart disease. We are truly grateful for our long history with the Ladish Company Foundation and their amazing commitment to kids.”

Through December 30, 2017, the Herma family will match gifts to Children’s Wisconsin designated to heart care up to $8 million. The Ladish Company Foundation’s gift is the third $1 million-plus gift to the Herma Heart Challenge. Earlier this year, Children’s announced that the Nicholas Family Foundation had donated $1.5 million to support an endowed chair in pediatric heart transplant and the Quadracci family’s Windhover Foundation had donated $1.2 million to support the challenge.

John and Susan Herma became involved with the heart program at Children’s Wisconsin in the 1980s when they lost their daughter, Leigh, to a complex heart disease. Inspired by the compassionate care they received and the desire to improve outcomes for other families in that same situation, the Hermas began to donate to the hospital’s heart program. 

Individuals interested in supporting the Herma challenge can visit or call the Children’s Wisconsin Foundation at (414) 266-6100.