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Ernie Kirschner

The Extra Mile: Finding Hope on the Journey of a Lifetime

As a medical equipment installation and repair technician, Ernie Kirschner has traveled the world and met hundreds of people.

Back in 2016, Ernie Kirschner stopped by a research lab to catch up with one of the kindest, most supportive clients he had ever had. He was surprised to learn that his friend wasn't there—he had taken early retirement and was battling lymphoma.

Instead of heading home to Connecticut, Ernie looped north to visit his friend who had received chemo treatment that was no longer helping him. Ernie learned that despite aggressive treatment, his friend's cancer had persisted. There was one option left: a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The prospect of long drives, extended stays in Manhattan, and additional treatment overwhelmed his friend.

The timing was uncanny for Ernie, who had recently made a personal commitment to showing more kindness and impacting more lives. If his friend pursued the trial, Ernie said, he'd drive him to MSK (a 16-hour round trip), open his home—and do whatever was needed.

The Journey Begins

In January 2017, under the care of MSK hematologic oncologist Dr. Craig Sauter, Ernie's friend began chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, a new form of treatment that gives a patient's infection-fighting T cells the instructions they need to attack cancer cells.

Within a month, Dr. Sauter had good news: the tumors were shrinking. In May, Ernie's friend took the next step and underwent a bone marrow transplant. During the next three months, The Red Team at one of MSK's outpatient clinics administered medications, monitored the friend’s vitals, and treated fevers and other conditions that sometimes occur in the challenging aftermath of a treatment.

Throughout it all, Ernie provided support alongside family and other friends. When a scan showed no evidence of cancer, Ernie rejoiced with his pal and the MSK teams he'd come to know so well.

Touched by the care he witnessed, Ernie included MSK's bone marrow transplant service, in honor of The Red Team, as a beneficiary in his will. He feels good about the gesture and knows it will bring more patients the benefits of MSK's extraordinary care and leading-edge treatments, including CAR T cell therapy, in the future.

Ernie's generosity also goes a long way in fulfilling his pledge to do more to help others—and it gave not just one man, but two, the journey of a lifetime.

Honor Someone Special, Encourage More Research

  • When you decide to recognize the care you or someone close to you received by including a gift to MSK in your estate plan, you provide the resources MSK needs to make more medical breakthroughs.
  • Contact the Office of Planned Giving at or 800-688-1827 to learn more. If you have already made a gift to MSK, please notify us so that we can thank you for your generosity and ensure that your wishes are met.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

An individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust, or retirement plan.

I bequeath to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a New York nonprofit corporation having a principal place of business at 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, Federal Tax ID #13-1924236, ____percent of my total estate (or $_____, or other property) to be used or disposed of as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in its sole discretion deems appropriate.

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor-advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSK or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSK as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSK as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSK where you agree to make a gift to MSK and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

A tax imposed at one's death on the transfer of most types of property. Currently federal estate taxes are assessed in 2019 on estates worth more than $11.2 million. The maximum estate tax rate is 40 percent. Some states also impose taxes at death that vary depending on state law.

A written legal instrument created by a grantor for the benefit of him/herself (during life) or others (during life or at death).

A revocable trust established by a grantor during his or her lifetime in which the grantor transfers some or all of his or her property into the trust.

Equity or debt instruments, typically shares listed on a stock exchange, which can be readily bought or sold.