Hometown Hero: Dr. Stanley Stamm
SPONSORED — Stanley Stamm is the kind of man who takes matters into his own hands when he needs to. A native of Seattle, Stamm became the first pediatric cardiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a position in which he served brilliantly for more than 50 years.
Today, at nearly 93 years old, Stamm, who was recently recognized as a Hometown Hero by WSECU and KIRO Radio, is still helping children in the Pacific Northwest through his summer camp for kids with complex medical conditions.
The camp, which Stamm conceived in 1966, posed too great a liability for the hospital to take on. Hearing this, Stamm started it himself.
“He’s always been a physical fitness guy – biking and skiing and hiking,” said his daughter Leslie Boyer. “He had me and my sister riding with him to the hospital in the summer every day to volunteer with him. That was really important to him. He started a swimming program at the hospital for the cardiopulmonary department. Then he thought it would be really great for the kids to get out and get to be kids.”
This August, about 100 kids will “get to be kids” for the 51st time at the Stanley Stamm Summer Camp. For the campers and their family, the weeklong experience is free, thanks to the support of sponsors and volunteers. In fact, none of the camp’s staff is paid except the director and cook.
The camp is open to Seattle Children’s patients (inpatient and outpatient) age 6 to 14. During the week, campers get the opportunity to participate in the kinds of summer camp activities you’d expect – fishing, horseback riding, swimming and others – all with constant supervision and professional medical care. For the participants and their families, the experience is priceless.
“It’s a big deal for the parents because many – if not most – they get respite for a week knowing their kids are being cared for and getting the medical care they need,” Boyer said. “It’s the first time many of them don’t have the 24/7 responsibility to care for a seriously ill child.”
Helping out has become second nature to Stamm, who was born and raised in Seattle. After serving in the Air Corps and Navy in World War II, he graduated from medical school and began working at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 1952. For many years, he was the only pediatric cardiologist on staff at the hospital, and for a time he also oversaw the pulmonary department. Today, the hospital offers the “Stanley Stamm Award” to the best teacher, due to the fact that Stamm won the award himself so many times over the years.
“He’s kind of the pied piper of everyone,” Boyer said. “It’s so amazing how many people know him when I walk through the hospital with him.”
The camp has had a great impact on the Stamm family as well.
“My son and daughter-in-law met at camp,” Boyer said. “My husband and I have volunteered for years. That’s kind of always been the test in our family – how do you do at camp?”
For volunteer opportunities and other information, visit the Stanley Stamm Summer Camp online.