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After Heartbreaking Death, Parents Turn to Community

Michelle Dolderer and Matthew Stengel lost their 4-month-old son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and are seeking donations to help with funeral costs. Excess funds would be sent to SIDS research.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to outlive the lives of their children. But for one Menomonee Fall family, their loss is even more heartbreaking – given the brief amount of time their son spent in this world.

Michelle Dolderer and Matthew Stengel lost their 4-month-old son, Matthew Stengel Jr., to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on Aug. 10. Rather than changing diapers and planning who wakes up in the middle of the night, the couple has had to plan a funeral.

But funeral costs can be high, and after giving birth in April, the couple is looking for financial support to help bury their son. The visitation for Matthew Jr. is from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Schramka Funeral Home, W164N9034 Water St.

“Matthew could light up a room with his smile and he touched the heart of everyone he met,” said Dolderer, who also has a 2-year-old son.

Dolderer said Matthew Jr. (also known as "Porkchop" or "Huey") had a cough on the day he passed away, but his cough seemed to finally be getting better. She had made an appointment to the doctor on Aug. 10, and laid Matthew Jr. down to get ready to take him to the doctor. That’s when things changed drastically for the worse.

“When I went to get him to leave he was not breathing and was limp,” Dolderer said. “He was taken to and they kind of got his heartbeat back, but it was never regular and he passed away in my arms.”

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Although cases of SIDS have dropped significantly since 1980, roughly 2,500 babies die each year in the United States. SIDS is the sudden death of any child under the age of one that cannot be explained. SIDS is especially heart wrenching for parents because medicine simply cannot explain why their newborn child died.

Although there is still a significant amount of research needed to explain SIDS, The American SIDS Institute offers a collection of tips for parents to help prevent it from occurring.

Dolderer said the family is accepting donations during and after the service to offset costs of the funeral, and excess funds will be donated to SIDS research. If you would like to donate to the family to help them through this difficult time, you can write a check to "The Memorial Fund for Matthew T. Stengel Jr.” Send checks – and checks only - to Erica Beil at 6444 W. Spokane St., Milwaukee, WI 53223. Checks can also be taken to Chase Bank.

“Matthew has a lot of people that cared about him and it is really hard on everyone,” Dolderer said. “Any donations will help and we are keeping the fund open past the funeral.”

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