Doting great-grandpa Harry Argovitz knows a good deal when he sees one. So when he learned about charitable gift annuities available through Texas Children's Hospital, he jumped at the opportunity to establish one that will help his beloved great-granddaughter, Mackenzie "Kiki" Tobor. His annuity will ultimately benefit the hospital's program aimed at treating and finding cures for the painful, lifelong disease that afflicts his great-granddaughter- juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA.
Kiki, now 5, was diagnosed with JRA just a month after her 3rd birthday and has been treated at Texas Children's ever since. She was the Houston Hero of the 2009 Arthritis Walk held in May.
Kiki's diagnosis stunned the whole family. At the time, says mom Stephanie Tobor, Mr. Argovitz's granddaughter, "We didn't even know that arthritis was something that affected children, and we were heartbroken to learn about its potential for chronic joint pain and damage and its immunosuppressant aspect. During her first year with it, Kiki had pneumonia twice, has chronic anemia and gets lots of bruises."
With his precious Kiki now counted among the nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. who suffer from juvenile arthritis, Mr. Argovitz began supporting Texas Children's rheumatology program with gifts several times a year.
Stephanie also relates, "Seeing my child's pain, I needed to find a way to help, so I decided to hold a fundraiser." She and husband, Robert, opened their home in October 2007 for a dinner that raised over $30,000 from more than 60 friends and family-among them, of course, Harry Argovitz.
A few months later, Mr. Argovitz says, "When I got the annuity pamphlet in the mail from Texas Children's and saw the payment rate for those my age, I was ready to give again." He and Stephanie set about working with the hospital's planned giving office to create an annuity that meets his personal and charitable goals.
At age 91-"and holding," he says—Mr. Argovitz has built two successful careers. For many years he owned and ran a hardware store in Borger,Texas, but sold the store and "retired" for the first time in 1958. He and his late wife, Rose, began raising Stephanie as a toddler, and they moved to Houston in 1978. Here, Mr. Argovitz continued his second career as a real estate investor and only a few years ago passed daily management of many investments over to Stephanie.
Mr. Argovitz's thoughts on his philanthropy are simple: "When it comes to children, we all melt. But you can't tell the next person what to do. It's up to them to want to give—and if they get involved, they'll want to give."