Two instrumental players in making On With
Life a reality were Eli and Marilyn Wirtz. The
Wirtz family was impacted by brain injury on
November 6, 1984, when Marilyn developed
a cerebral aneurysm while at home and was
rushed to the hospital.
"It was obviously a scary time for us and
I was beside myself," Eli says. "Our son
Jim and Marilyn's mother were also having
health difficulties and both were admitted to
the same hospital within weeks of Marilyn."
Marilyn had internal bleeding on the
left side of her brain, and after surgery,
remained in the hospital for almost four
months. It was during this time that
Marilyn's neurosurgeon, Dr. Thomas
Carlstrom, asked Eli if he would be
interested in becoming involved with the
Central Iowa Area Support Group.
"The group's mission was to provide
services and support to those living with
brain injury," Eli says. "It was through my
involvement with this group that I became
aware of the idea to develop a brain injury
rehab facility in central Iowa."
"Marilyn received more than two years of
varied rehabilitation around the Midwest
following her hospital stay," Eli explains.
"So I understood the need for a rehab facility
in Iowa and immediately wanted to help."
Eli became an original member of the
Board of Directors when On With Life was
incorporated in 1987.
"At the time, and even today, I don't think
of my service as extraordinary in any way,
recalling the unselfish efforts of so many
volunteers and dedicated employees who
have made On With Life into everything we
hoped it would be," Eli says.
Eli continues to serve an important role
on the On With Life Board, offering legal
and governance skills developed through
17 years of legal practice and 21 years
as corporate counsel for Casey's General
Stores, Inc. Marilyn continues to offer
support for those who have experienced
a stroke, and volunteers her time with the
Stroke Club at Iowa Methodist.
"We're exactly where we need to
be," Marilyn says. "To this day I vividly
remember a vision while still in a coma. I
saw my whole life in front of me as if it
were a movie, and an angel telling me my
work on earth was not done. It was then
that I knew God wanted us to find a way to
help those in need."