The Children's Institute Blog

Father's Day Spotlight: Chad Bender

Posted: Jun 16, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Chad Bender’s daughter, Alea, wouldn’t eat, leading to G-tube feedings when most children are learning to crawl. Then, she came to The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

“This was all new to me. I didn’t even know kids had problems with feeding until my daughter,” Chad said. “It was a very eye-opening experience.”

But the fact that Children’s Institute helped Alea learned to eat – “Now she’ll eat anything you put in front of her,” Chad says – is not the reason we’re profiling Chad today in honor of Father’s Day.

After his daughter had two inpatient visits, Chad, who was a steel mill water treatment worker, decided to change course in his life. He went to school at Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus and pursued a career in healthcare as a Certified OT Assistant, or COTA. He even came back to the very place his daughter was treated, joining the Children’s Institute family on April 21, 2014.

“I now can help people the way they helped me and it tends to relax parents a little bit,” said Chad, who works at our Norwin Hills satellite and fills in on some Saturdays at the main Squirrel Hill campus. “I told one parent, ‘You’re staying in my room.’ She said, ‘You don’t know how nice it is to have a therapist who’s been there and done this as a parent.’ I might not know what they’re going through specifically, but I can relate.”

“He is a natural helper and therapist. His caring, warm and inclusive nature was probably helpful in his former work and team relationships, as well as now,” said Lorelli Moser, who heads the OT department. “Chad fulfills many ‘occupations;’ one is as a therapist and one is as father. Each occupation informs the other one. As a therapist, I think being a father helps him with ‘street cred’ with other families, and increases his effectiveness in those engaging family-therapist relationships.”

His wife, Marcie – they celebrate their 17th anniversary Saturday – and children Alea, now 8, and Cody, 6, are central to a big part of his life. But does his daughter realize what she inadvertently did to that other part of his life, the course of his career?

“I think my daughter has started to understand that,” he said. “I tell her she’s reason I do the job I do now and she smiles.”


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