June 9, 2017

Pediatrician wins national awards for work with children, book

Dr. Chuck Dietzen is pictured with Father Jonathan Morris of The Christophers on May 16 in New York. Dietzen received the organization’s James Keller award, and a Christopher Award for his recent book, Pint-Sized Prophets: Inspirational Moments That Taught Me We Are All Born to Be Healers. He is the first person to receive two awards from the organization in the same year. (Submitted photo by Charles Schisla)

Dr. Chuck Dietzen is pictured with Father Jonathan Morris of The Christophers on May 16 in New York. Dietzen received the organization’s James Keller award, and a Christopher Award for his recent book, Pint-Sized Prophets: Inspirational Moments That Taught Me We Are All Born to Be Healers. He is the first person to receive two awards from the organization in the same year. (Submitted photo by Charles Schisla)

Criterion staff report

Dr. Chuck Dietzen, pediatrician and founder of Timothy Global Health in Indianapolis, was honored with two awards during the 68th annual Christopher Awards ceremony on May 16 in New York City.

Dietzen, a Catholic, received the James Keller Award, named after The Christophers’ founder, Maryknoll Father James Keller. The award recognizes individuals who are positively shaping the lives of children.

Dietzen has been doing that all his life, thanks to the influence of his parents, who took in 150 foster children over 20 years. Regarding his mother and father, who were committed to living out their faith, he said, “My parents didn’t preach giving and caring for others. They demonstrated it on a regular basis.”

Dietzen decided to pursue a medical career in pediatrics. His background in sports led him to physical rehabilitation as a specialty, working with children who are disabled. His mission expanded even more in 1997, after an encounter with Mother Teresa. From her, he learned, “Be ordinary, but have an extraordinary mission.”

That experience prompted Dietzen to ask himself, “Why did God put me here?” The answer he came up with was, “I’m here to save every child I can, and do what I can to relieve suffering. But the other part of that is revealing to others that we weren’t all born to be doctors and nurses, but we were all born to be healers.”

He also received a Christopher Award for his recent book, Pint-Sized Prophets: Inspirational Moments That Taught Me We Are All Born to Be Healers.

His book shares poignant, heartfelt and often humorous moments between Dietzen and the patients he has treated around the world. It chronicles the stories about the young patients who have taught him lessons about living his own life to the fullest—from little Abby’s struggle with life-threatening cancer to 17-year-old Margie’s role as a guardian angel.

Dietzen believes his interactions with sick children and disadvantaged children have helped him be a better person.

“I think the beauty of this work is when you allow yourself to get close enough to these kids, your heart will be broken and, at the same time, healed,” Dietzen said.

“They are incredible souls who were sent here to make us better, to make us more compassionate, more kind, more human,” he added.

Tony Rossi, director of communications for The Christophers, said the beauty of Dietzen’s work is that he was able to get close enough to the children to gain their confidence and hear their personal stories, which seems to be a lost art in the current health care environment.

“The power of relationships is one thing Dietzen believes is being lost in the modern health care system and worries that we are strangling ‘care’ out of health care with all the current documentation, litigation, regulation and legislation,” Rossi said.

A nonprofit organization, The Christophers was founded in 1945 by Father Keller on a doctrine of religious tolerance, with publications generally relevant to those of all faiths. It is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”—guides its publishing, radio and awards programs.

The Christopher Awards were created in 1949 to celebrate authors, illustrators, writers, producers and directors whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Active in both work and community, Dietzen is the chief of pediatric rehabilitation medicine and medical director for inpatient rehabilitation at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

He has also received the Indiana School of Medicine’s Distinguished Medical Alumni Award in recognition of his contributions on a national and global scale.

He is a member of St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in Zionsville, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.
 

(More information about The Christophers is available at www.christophers.org.)

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