Meet HELP Award Honoree Margaret Grandstaff

Yesenia Parker and Margaret Grandstaff

Yesenia Parker and Margaret Grandstaff

Each year at the annual benefit in support of HelpHOPELive, we honor three community heroes who prove why our mission matters with the Help, HOPE and Live awards.

This year, the HELP award will go to a very special “Big Sister” by the name of Margaret Grandstaff, for excellence in fundraising for the Mid-Atlantic Spinal Cord Injury Fund in honor of Yesenia Parker. Margaret was paired with Yesenia through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in New Jersey.

In January 2013, then 11-year-old Yesenia was shot in a domestic dispute. She suffered a spinal cord injury at her C3 vertebrae, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Damage to her nerves left her with only limited function in her hands and arms.

When the news made it to Margaret, she was heartbroken. She had been paired with her Little, Yesenia, four years ago – and they had spent their time together doing fun activities like ice skating and apple picking. In the wake of this catastrophic event, Margaret’s commitment to Yesenia only grew stronger.

“Margaret came to HelpHOPELive taking on a role far greater than the one she originally signed up for when she became Yesenia’s Big Sister,” said Yesenia’s Fundraising Coordinator at HelpHOPELive, Rebecca Carr. “Margaret knocked on virtually every door from New York to New Jersey to get prize items donated for a month-long raffle last March. Her persistence paid off in foursomes of golf, restaurant and store gift certificates, and even passes to Disney World. Friends and family bought up those raffle tickets and raised nearly $5,000 so that Yesenia could get her health care needs met.”

Margaret also coordinated a 5K and sold handmade items at the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival to help raise money. Between the events and sharing Yesenia’s story any chance she got, Margaret has raised more than $30,000.

“When Margaret signed up to be a Big Sister to Yesenia, she probably thought that she’d be going to the zoo and out for ice cream with her,” said Rebecca. “She still does those things. But she’s done so much more too.”

HELP HOPE live it up!

The HELP award will be presented to Margaret at this year’s HelpHOPE-Live it Up! benefit on September 17.

Watch a video on the bond Yesenia and Margaret share.

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