Marilyn Bornefeld was a quiet homebody who loved her pets, including a cat she believed shared her affliction with Crohn's disease. She was diagnosed with the ailment as a teen and received treatment at Barnes-Jewish Hospital until her death in 2006 at age 81.
Crohn's disease is an ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, mostly affecting the small intestine. Although not deadly, it does affect sufferers every day, and is, at best, a major annoyance. With the hope of helping others with Crohn's, Marilyn left her estate to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital for research into prevention, improved treatment and finding a cure for the disease.
Widowed at a young age, Marilyn maintained a close friendship with Barbara and Kevin Smith, and Kevin's brother, Mark-the sons of her late husband's business associate. Over the years, the friendship deepened and Marilyn considered the Smith family as her own.
Barbara remembers Marilyn spending nearly a month every year at Barnes-Jewish Hospital battling the debilitating effects of Crohn's disease. "She held her doctors in high regard," Barbara says. "She always appreciated the care she received-they really took care of her and she wanted her money to go toward finding a cure for Crohn's disease."
In her honor, The Foundation has established the Marilyn E. Bornefeld Chair for Gastrointestinal Research and the Marilyn E. Bornefeld Fund for Gastrointestinal Research. These resources will provide sustainable support for basic laboratory research and its translation into clinical studies of novel therapies.
In a note from Mark, he wrote, "We were honored to be considered Marilyn's family. We were with her during her last days at your hospital and we know that her needs were met beyond expectation. As you know, she battled her illness in different degrees throughout her life, and she wanted to be able to contribute to finding a cure for her condition so that others would not have to go through what she endured."