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Donors’ Philanthropy Honors Late Grandson

December 23, 2019
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At age 10, Michael Steingart began to experience a sudden involuntary facial tic, and life as he knew it changed.

His parents – Baystate Health physician and hematologist Dr. Richard Steingart and preschool teacher and community volunteer Roberta (Bobi) – searched for answers and took him to countless doctors’ appointments.

Eventually, his family found a pediatric neurology specialist, Baystate Health’s Dr. Herb Gilmore, who provided a diagnosis: Tourette syndrome.

Tourette syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds, also known as tics. The exact cause is unknown, though research suggests that abnormalities in certain brain regions, the circuits that interconnect these regions, and the neurotransmitters responsible for communication among nerve cells play a role.

Over time, and with great patience and a sense of humor, Michael learned to live with the symptoms and emotions of this chronic disorder. Medication helped, but not fully.

“Trying to look ‘normal’ and not tic was exhausting. And this was something that he always struggled with emotionally: just feeling different than everyone else,” shared his sister Emily.

With his kind heart, Michael thrived in helping others through charity work, a passion he held since childhood. He encouraged his family to join in, biking or walking alongside him, a tradition they continue to this day.

When Michael suddenly passed away in December 2005, his family was devastated. His grandparents, Murray and Lotte, wanted to honor his memory. Lotte worked with Baystate Health Foundation to create a memorial endowed fund in her will that carries on Michael’s legacy of giving back and advances knowledge about Tourette syndrome.

After Lotte passed, Dr. Steingart and his brother reached out to the Foundation with her gift to put it to use. The Michael Steingart Memorial Endowed Fund for Neuroscience promotes education and research in neuroscience, with a preferred focus on movement disorders such as Tourette syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.

This October, the Fund supported the Michael Steingart Memorial Endowed Lectureship, which brings noted leaders in neuroscience to Baystate Health. The Steingarts hope that this lectureship will bring attention and understanding that leads to new breakthroughs and exceptional care for patients.

“At Baystate, we know the importance of ensuring that our medical community has the resources it needs to be constantly learning. Philanthropy helps make this possible. We are grateful to the Steingart family for their gift, which helps us tirelessly pursue the knowledge and treatments that will impact the health of our patients,” shared Dr. Edward Feldmann, vice president and medical director, neurosciences and rehabilitation at Baystate Health and chair of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School – Baystate.

Today, Michael’s family continues to celebrate his values in education, charity, community, and carries on his legacy with this endowment, allowing his good work to live on. Dr. Steingart shares that every day remains “a celebration of Michael’s life. It pushes my work. It makes us all focus on doing good.”

“Michael had so much to teach,” says Dr. Steingart.“The memorial endowment in his name continues his unwavering commitment to learning and understanding to lead to hope and healing for others.

Learn more about leaving a lasting legacy though a gift.