‘Enough to make my Poppy feel better’

Patient Stories

April 22, 2020

Last fall, as she sat near her grandfather Robert Metzinger’s hospital bed, Lilly Grace Metzinger made a suggestion to her great-grandmother Linda. Together, she said, they should recognize the expert and compassionate care Robert had received by giving a donation to the IU Health Foundation.

Well, actually, what 6-year-old Lilly said when she spied money in Linda Metzinger’s wallet was, “You should give some of that to the cancer.” Then she added, “I’ll give some, too, and they will have enough to make my Poppy feel better.”

Lilly’s “Poppy” was being treated for cancer of the head and neck at the IU Health Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center at IU Health North Hospital.

Her philanthropic thinking might seem remarkable for a 6-year-old, but it’s nothing new to Lilly. After all, this is a little girl who, for the last couple of years, held a fundraiser for the LaPorte County Sheriff Department’s K-9 unit. (She calls the sheriff and his deputies “my boys” and the canines “my dogs.”) Her family says she often does little jobs around the house so she can make money to give to charities.

“She’s got a sweet heart,” Linda says of Lilly. “She’s a very giving and caring little girl.”

When Lilly raises money for a cause or works to earn money she can give away, Linda (“Nanny” to Lilly) matches whatever Lilly gives.

It makes sense that Lilly would nudge Linda into giving as a result of the care her grandfather received at IU Health. The little girl was delighted when surgeon Michael Moore, MD, let her sit with her Poppy until he was wheeled into what turned out to be a 17-hour surgery, and pleased with the way everyone took care of Poppy when she couldn’t be there.

Lilly’s charitable urges have roots in Linda’s childhood. One of 16 children growing up in rural Tennessee, Linda and her family sometimes relied on neighbors to survive. “If it wasn’t for the generosity of the community, I don’t think half of us would have made it,” she says.

Now – though she lives on Social Security and the money her late husband, Bob, left her – Linda passes on that generosity whenever she can.

Linda also passes on her belief in the power of generosity, most notably to her great-granddaughter. Lilly is a budding philanthropist who demonstrates that it’s not the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart behind it.

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