Fitchburg family shares son’s health struggles to support AFCH Radiothon

Fitchburg family shares son’s health struggles to support AFCH Radiothon

As American Family Children’s Hospital began its 11th annual Radiothon fundraiser, the Dencker family shared their personal journey of getting their young son Michael crucial medical treatment.

Since Michael was born, he has been in and out of the hospital for multiple surgeries, some his parents thought wouldn’t be needed until he was an adult..

Michael has a complex heart defect. When he was born the bottom chambers of his heart were in the wrong place, vessels to it were swapped and it had a hole.

“He’s really fun. He loves playing with kids,” said his mother Katie Dencker, “He’s really friendly and sweet and outgoing. It doesn’t seem it’s affected him, which is one concern that I had, that maybe this would kind of affect him emotionally too. But seems like he’s doing pretty good.”

She said the first year was very rough and it was weird to think back and know they went through it.

“I would never wish it upon anybody obviously,” said Michael’s father, Justin.

Michael’s most recent surgery was just before he turned 3. Doctors had to improve oxygen levels in his blood and added a pacemaker.

Though the surgeries and procedures took a toll on the parents of three, they said American Family Children’s Hospital became a second home. The doctors and nurses became a big part of their lives.

“It’s amazing how we’ll see them and it’s hugs and kisses. ‘Hey it’s Dr. Peterson! It’s Dr. A!’ You really feel like you are part of their family and their part of yours,” said Katie.

Michael has a check-up in June.

In the meantime, the Denckers continue to spend what free time they have supporting the hospital in hopes other families will get the same kind of care.

“For us to be able to walk out of there with a happy little guy, that’s running around and enjoying life, it’s the least we could do,” Justin said about going his family’s willingness to share their story.

Last year the Radiothon raised $680,000 for the AFCH.

Today’s Q106 and 93.1JAMZ, both radio stations with Midwest Family Broadcasting, will broadcast from AFCH April 29-May 1 for 39 hours for the Radiothon. They will share the personal stories of families impacted by the hospital and ask listeners to be a champion for kids by committing to donate $15 per month.

To donate call 877-719-5437 or visit