Students beginning the adventure through law school fall incredibly fast into a rhythm revolving around casebooks, outlines, and anxiety over the Socratic Method. We become creatures of study rooms and offices, and our perspectives on the real world come periodically from professors who incorporate their experiences from legal practice into their lectures. We rarely have opportunities to participate in events that reach beyond the traditional roles of a lawyer, the most important of those events involving community outreach. Yet, for fellows of the Jaharis Health Law Institute, unique opportunities are extended to us that provide us with an opportunity to see just how lawyers become involved in their communities. One of these opportunities is through the Michael Matters Foundation.
Michael Matters was founded by the Schostok family in 2013 in memory of Michael Schostok. Michael was a husband, father of three, and prominent attorney who began experiencing health issues in April 2011. That month, Michael was diagnosed with an inoperable Glioblastoma Brain Tumor. The next fifteen months for Michael and his family involved meeting with specialists throughout the country to try and find a cure for the disease. Unfortunately, Michael passed away on July 16, 2012.
During their journey, Michael and his family learned how patients and their families face great challenges from financial pressure and treatment complications. As a result, Michael’s family started the Michael Matters Foundation to assist financially patients with brain cancer and their families. The Foundation’s mission is to assist with the incidental costs families incur while focusing on the treatment and care of a loved one. Since its founding, more than 100 families have been positively impacted by Michael Matters, and more than $200,000 has been donated to Michael Matters Grants.
In support of its fundraising efforts, Michael Matters puts on an annual event where it organizes a silent auction and raffles off trips to places like Las Vegas and Costa Rica. This year, the event was held at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire. As in prior years, Professor Katherine Schostok, the Executive Director of the Institute, arranged for a group of fellows to volunteer at the event, performing tasks such as helping donors purchase tickets and check in at the event, selling raffle tickets, and distributing prizes to the silent auction winners.
Volunteering at the event is an incredible experience. Not only are volunteers able to learn more about the mission of Michael Matters, but we can see first-hand how attorneys in the area reach out and interact with their community on a non-professional level. Speaking with the attorneys in attendance opens the door to hearing about their philanthropic efforts with Michael Matters and with other institutions. The experience provides us with additional perspectives on what it means to be a lawyer who is active in a community outside the office, not to mention the extremely rewarding feeling of having put in time and effort towards furthering a spectacular cause.
For more information about this year’s Michael Matters event, click here.