Todd A. Mahr, MD ‘79

Todd A. Mahr, MD ‘79 at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals event

My awareness of Lawrence started with my neighbor talking to me about Lawrence. As the middle son of 5 boys, I had two older brothers who were enrolled at University of Miami-Coral Gables, and St. Olaf. I was fortunate that my parents really worked hard to support all of us further our education where we wanted. I visited Lawrence and was impressed with the educational opportunities. My experience there over the 4 years was great! I was editor of the Ariel for 2 years, active in the Biology department, and involved of campus in the ABC House (A Better Chance program). I was admitted to UW Medical School and deferred matriculation a year and worked with admissions for part of that year.

Fast forward a career that took me to UW Madison, Gundersen-Lutheran in LaCrosse, WI for Pediatrics, then Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago for an Allergy/Immunology fellowship. It was interesting to think back on all the alumni I ran across during that training.  I settled in LaCrosse back at Gundersen Health System for the past 31 years. I am an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and have remained active in teaching medical and physician assistant students, residents and staff. I am very active in a variety of organizations and have held leadership roles in: American Lung Association – National, Regional and State organizations, American Academy of Pediatrics – Chair of Section of Allergy & Immunology, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (President and Board of Regents).

During my career, I was more than pleased that our daughter, Kaitlin, decided Lawrence would be a good fit for her. She was an English major and participated in Melee Dance Troupe and was a LARY Buddy tutor. She enjoyed Lawrence, had a special bond with Professor Timothy Spurgin. Unfortunately, Kaitlin developed Bipolar disorder early in her time at Lawrence. We got her professional help, and thought things were going well. However, on November 19, 2007 she went to a dark place in her mind and accidentally took a lethal combination of pills and alcohol. Her death dealt us a staggering blow, and it motivated us to become active in adolescent mental health. We have started “Kaitlin’s Table” here in La Crosse, a program to move mental health from the clinic to the community. At my recent 40th reunion we were able to create KAITLIN’S LIBRARY, which is in the Buchan-Kiewit Wellness Center. The approach involves the use of the app Sanvello to provide a suite of tools to manage stress, anxiety and depression. We also established the KAITLIN MAHR INTERNSHIP IN ENGLISH, which supports students pursuing internships in career fields related to English. Students are drawn to summer internships but worry about sustaining themselves as these are often unpaid or underpaid opportunities. This fund will allow students to seek prominent internships in large and mid-sized publishing houses and other literary endeavors.