Tag Archives: community

Meet My Second Family: HelpHOPELive

Liam Murray began volunteering with HelpHOPELive two years ago and has been a member of our board of directors for the past year.  He also serves on our Development Committee. We sat down with Liam to talk about what charitable giving means to him and his family.

liam-ashlee-and-joey

Liam and his family enjoy the Radnor Hunt Races, a Kolff Society event


Why do you donate to HelpHOPELive? 


I donate because I love the mission. I love that the organization serves a very practical purpose at a point in a person’s life when they are most vulnerable. When someone is diagnosed with a life-changing illness or suffers a sudden catastrophic injury, the last thing they should have to worry about is who is going to pay for this.

I personally know three people who could have benefited from HelpHOPELive, but neither I nor they were aware it existed at the time. This organization is absolutely needed in communities around the country and making people aware of its existence is a personal mission of mine.

This is why I donate specifically to the unrestricted (general operating) fund and volunteer with the development committee to position more people to support HelpHOPELive to help us expand our reach even further.


What does charitable giving mean to you and your family (not just financially)?


Being able to donate means we are very lucky as a family. Life can change in an instant. Today I have the ability to give a little bit of time and money; tomorrow I may rely on others to donate that time and money to me or my family. We give while we can because you never know when you’ll be on the other end.

There is also something about being part of the organization to which you are giving which has deep meaning to me. I absolutely love the people at HelpHOPELive. They have welcomed me as if I were a member of the family, and that means a lot. My ideas, even the terrible ones, are considered and I’m asked my opinion all the time.


What do you hope to share with your children about charitable giving?


I hope to lead by example. I hope they understand how lucky they are to be in the position to give, and that it is both a privilege and a responsibility. It is also not something you do and forget about. I hope they see for themselves that it needs to be something that becomes part of your life so long as you are able.


Do you have any advice for first-time donors?


Every dollar you give, you get two back. Not sure why it works like that, but it does.


What if I don’t have a lot of money to give away? Can I still make an impact?


I might just suggest that there is power in community. When the HelpHOPELive Fundraising and Patient Services Team works on a new campaign, they don’t expect a single donor to give thousands of dollars, they know it takes a lot of small donations to reach their fundraising goals. Donate what you can, whether that is time or money and you will be surprised how far it can go. At least I have been!

The team at HelpHOPELive, across all departments, has a magical ability to take modest amounts of money and accomplish incredible things. I wouldn’t donate unless I had profound respect for the team putting my money to work for a good cause.

liam-ashlee-and-joey-2

Liam with his wife, Ashley, and his daughter, Joee


Can you open your heart this year to help us provide meaningful fundraising assistance to thousands of families? Donate now at helphopelive.org.

Voices Of Hope: “No Matter What Happens, We Always Love Each Other”

Yusef Harris is a loving father and a longtime community volunteer and youth mentor. Combating health issues since 2004, Yusef needs a kidney transplant to live a long and healthy life. He and his family have turned to HelpHOPELive for fundraising support.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

Yusef is fundraising or a kidney transplant with support from his family

As he copes with the challenges of end-stage renal failure and exhausting dialysis treatments, Yusef draws inspiration from his family to stay positive and keep fighting. We asked daughters NaQari and Miyala about fundraising and sticking together as a family in the face of challenging circumstances.


How is your family helping Yusef to manage fundraising?


Miyala: We help sell shirts and do our best to promote his HelpHOPELive campaign and let others know about it. We have all purchased and worn his #LemonadeLife clothing as well! We started the #LemonadeLife hashtag with our father because, as our dad puts it, “I refuse to let kidney failure end what I know to be a meaningful life.”

NaQari: We also go out with him and educate people about kidney failure and being organ donors using HelpHOPELive brochures and bracelets.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

“When life gives you lemons…”


What are you currently fundraising for to help Yusef?


NaQari: We are currently fundraising to help cover the bills that come with the kidney transplant surgery and the medications he will need to live with a new kidney.


When did you first realize how expensive a transplant could be for your family?


Miyala: When we took time to talk about the transplant process and what we would all have to go through, we learned about the financial commitment.

NaQari: I realized the financial commitment the moment my father began to take precautions and go through all the necessary steps required for him to be a candidate for the transplant surgery. I learned about the cost mostly from my father, and I also learned through research on the Internet and heard about the financial component from people who had received a transplant who posted about it on Facebook. I was told that the anti-rejection medications would be between $200 and $300 per month for the rest of his life.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

Yusef will take on the financial burden of transplant with help from family and friends


Is your community supportive of what your family is going through?


Miyala: Everyone is there for us if we ever need anything. We have people we can count on.

NaQari: Our church family and Facebook community is very supportive. They understand that my father is going through tough circumstances and they do everything they can to help, whether that is donating or sharing my father’s story.

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How do you feel about fundraising with HelpHOPELive?


Miyala: It’s been great. My dad talked to me about working with HelpHOPELive and what is being done to help us is wonderful.

NaQari: I love fundraising with HelpHOPELive! They provide a professional-looking site and help with the work necessary for my father to raise funds.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

NaQari appreciates that HelpHOPELive provides “help with the work necessary for my father to raise funds”


Do you think it can be difficult to stay positive while on the transplant waiting list?


Miyala: I know for a fact it’s difficult. Having to wait is hard. Your whole life depends upon what happens at that point. I just say to him and anyone else, never give up. God has a plan for you.

NaQari: It can be very difficult staying positive while on the waiting list because so much can happen. You can get an at-risk donor or someone who doesn’t match your blood type, and that makes you think more about the possible complications that come with the surgery. My advice is to pray and keep a positive spirit, because if you think positive you will have positive results.


Is it challenging to watch your father cope with a chronic health condition?


Miyala: I know that things are hard but at the same time, you never know exactly what that person is going through or feeling. You want to understand, but sometimes that’s hard. It hurts to see the pain that they go through.

NaQari: My dad had to quit working because of his health. He couldn’t work for long before he experienced pain. My dad has had small bouts of depression and he tries his best to be positive. It affects all of us because we are all so used to seeing that spark in his eye. It is difficult to watch my father cope with his health condition because I can’t experience it or take away the pain that comes with it, nor can I take away all the risks and what-ifs.


What’s the best part about being a member of your family?


Miyala: No matter what we’re going through, we’ve been taught to stick together, and that’s what we do. I always know that my dad and everyone else in my family is there for me.

NaQari: No matter what happens, we always love each other and have fun together.


Tell us a little bit about your dad’s role as a youth mentor in the community.


NaQari: My dad has mentored and become a father figure for many young men in our church community and he has helped them with everything from homework to life lessons. He loves mentoring young people because he wants to help them become wonderful men and keep them from being another statistic in their neighborhoods.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

Yusef’s community is grateful for his work in youth mentoring

It became a part of his life when these individuals were born and came to our church. On a day-to-day basis, he is doing everything he can to better himself. Then he calls or messages the individuals or their guardians or parents to check up on them to see how things are going and if he can help them in any way.


When it comes to your dad’s life, from living gracefully with a chronic condition to volunteering and mentoring at-risk youth, what are you most proud of?


Miyala: I love that my dad took his story and made it into something so positive. He wants everyone to know that life will give you lemons, but all you have to do is make lemonade. It’s never over. I just want my father to know that I am very proud of what he’s done. He has helped mold me into the young lady that I am, and I love him for that.

NaQari: Even when he doesn’t feel good, he finds a way not only to be my father but a father for other children who don’t have one. To me, that is the most selfless thing I can think of, because he provides for those children as well as us.  My dad has found a way to love his wife and two daughters unconditionally while giving the same love to many other kids at the drop of a hat. He takes care of them just like he would take care of us. I love that about my dad.

Yusef Harris HelpHOPELive

Yusef’s family and community are behind him on his transplant journey


To learn more about Yusef, NaQari and Miyala, visit helphopelive.org.  Want to help support transplant families? Make a donation to HelpHOPELive and find out what else you can do to raise awareness and support families facing a medical crisis.  

Has Fundraising Helped You? You Can Pay It Forward!

Has fundraising had a positive impact on your life? You have an opportunity to give back to your community and support other families facing a medical crisis. Last week, we featured Danielle Bailey, who has helped several local families kick-start their fundraising efforts with HelpHOPELive. This week, we feature five tried-and-true ways to start making a difference today.

pay it forward


…supporting families who are going through a similar situation.


You can help families navigate through the same challenges you’ve overcome. As heart transplant recipient Rick Brittell explains, “Before I got my heart, I was so tired of being away from home and isolated. Then my social worker reached out and asked if [my wife and I] would be willing to meet with a patient at the hospital who was facing a similar situation. We began to focus on supporting others. We started a support group in the local area that was open to lung and heart transplant candidates and recipients, caregivers and people who were grieving.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

You can be a vital source of support for another family.

Rick notes that this kind of support can make a tangible difference in someone’s life: “The doctors have said to us, ’You don’t know how much of a difference you have made.’ They even told us that people are being released 3-4 days earlier than average now that we are there to provide support!


…referring families to HelpHOPELive for nonprofit fundraising support.


Do you know someone who needs help fundraising for medical and related expenses? Help him or her understand how HelpHOPELive can help. Point other families in need to helphopelive.org for more information. If you would like additional resources to share with others who may need our help, contact us today.

Diane Maxwell, wife of transplant recipient Mark Maxwell, explains how she helped another family find us: “I met Jude Jamieson through a woman’s retreat, where I learned that she also had a husband with a chronic illness in need of a transplant. I encouraged her to contact HelpHOPELive and start a fundraising campaign since her husband’s transplant hospital required a $5,000 account balance at minimum to list a patient for transplant. They were able to raise the funds through the summer and fall. Her husband went into acute liver failure, but less than a week later, he had a new liver thanks to their fundraising efforts. All I did was be bold enough to suggest she contact HelpHOPELive. You guys did the rest, right on time.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Diane referred Kevin and family to HelpHOPELive for fundraising help


…supporting HelpHOPELive’s mission.


Every donation to our nonprofit helps families across the country receive tangible and compassionate fundraising support. You know firsthand how important that support can be when a medical crisis strikes. Become a monthly contributor to HelpHOPELive today and begin paying it forward to families who need our help to combat the high cost of medical and related care.

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Want to see the true impact of your gift? Keep up with stories of hope on our Blog and on our website, or get a handpicked selection of tips and stories in your inbox every month!


…using your next fundraiser to serve the community.


As Heidi Anderson, mother of 2-year-old transplant recipient Deanna, explains, “Deanna lived in the hospital for more than three months before her transplant. We were visited by many people during that time, including volunteers who would bring her toys and gifts. It truly touched my heart. I see so many children at the hospital now who really need a smile.” Heidi knew a fundraiser in honor of Deanna could provide a way to give back, so she “decided to collect toys for kids at the hospital through a toy drive as part of one of Deanna’s Valentine’s Day HelpHOPELive fundraisers.”

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The toy collection was a huge success, says Heidi: “So many people brought toys! It made me incredibly happy! We are still collecting today.


…donating in honor of a particular family.


After getting her own fundraising campaign rolling, LAM fighter and transplant candidate Nicole Seefeldt found a way to pay it forward. “I met Alyssa Mebs while I was getting my transplant evaluation,” says Nicole. “We just started talking one night and we became fast friends. Once I saw that Alyssa was fundraising for a transplant, I thought, what can I do to help her? I knew I was going to meet my first fundraising goal…so I donated what I had to give in her honor.”

HelpHOPELive Pay It Forward

Nicole, left, made a donation to HelpHOPELive in honor of Alyssa

Today, when Nicole asks for donations or donates to a fellow HelpHOPELive client, she keeps this advice in mind: “It’s not the dollar amount you give, it’s that you give at all. Not everybody has a lot of money, but since it’s tax-deductible, every penny is something that they can use that compounds the effect. I never want to put an amount that people have to give. I just encourage them to give what they can.”


You don’t have to have it all to give back.


As Heidi Anderson explains, “Giving back is something we should all consider. Whether you do it with a toy drive or something else, paying it forward is about giving love and kindness to others who need it most.”

Today, consider how you can give back to the community that has given you so much. If you have a great idea for giving back, contact us and we may feature your campaign in an upcoming Blog post!

How You Can Step Up To Support A Family Facing A Medial Crisis

Donating to HelpHOPELive isn’t the only way to support a family facing the financial and emotional burdens associated with a transplant. Just ask Danielle Bailey, who has helped three HelpHOPELive clients plan bingo and poker fundraisers using her event planning experience. Learn why Danielle pours her time, energy and expertise into helping these families, and you’ll be inspired to do the same!

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

Danielle, left, supports multiple HelpHOPELive families


How did you get involved in fundraising?


My first event was to help fundraise for a little girl with a double cochlear implant who was having trouble securing state funds to attend a school for children with hearing loss. I helped to plan a bingo event, since everyone has fun playing bingo and it’s a great way to raise money and have fun. We were able to raise $400 for her.

Since then, I have been involved with events raising funds for several causes, including autism awareness, cancer awareness, canine companions, and kids’ medical needs. As an AVON representative, in addition to helping plan fundraisers, I typically reserve a table at each fundraising event to show support and advertise my services and I donate raffle prizes.

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

Danielle has engaged in fundraising for several nonprofit causes


How are you connected to the HelpHOPELive families you help?


[Former HelpHOPELive client] Mary Jo Lovely is my mother. She made the decision to donate my stepfather (Stephen Boyes)’ organs in 1998 when he suddenly passed away. She was diagnosed with COPD and was put on 24/7 oxygen at 42. She was put on the transplant waiting list and she received her first single lung transplant in July 2007. A year and a half later, swine flu hit our family and the disease immediately put my mother’s body into a state of rejection. She received her second lung transplant in June 2015.

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

Danielle’s mother “received her second lung transplant in June 2015”

I met [HelpHOPELive client] Karlene Novotny in 1998 when she did my taxes. We clicked right away. She opened her own business which I followed for a few years before she became sick. I saw her name in a news article shared on Facebook and we got back in contact. I was shocked to learn how sick she was and how much she had gone through since we lost contact.

I first met Natalie Meyers in person on March 12, 2016 while I was hosting the bingo fundraiser in honor of Karlene. She had just started fundraising with HelpHOPELive a few days before the event. A co-worker shared her story with me and I reached out to her, contacted the local fire company and started the planning process to help her with a fundraising event. I invited her to the bingo fundraiser in honor of Karlene so that she could see how events were managed to better prepare herself for the event in her honor later this year.

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

Flyer designed by HelpHOPELive for the upcoming event


What’s the hardest part about planning a fundraiser?


I give myself a good six months to plan everything to limit hurdles along the way. I send donation requests to local businesses, find vendors to set up at the event, make sure there is advertising via social media and flyers in local groceries stories where permitted, and so much more. The hardest part is waiting for the event to happen!

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

This year, Danielle is expanding her wheelhouse to include poker events


What is the most satisfying part of planning a fundraiser?


There is so much that is fulfilling about fundraising. Being able to help someone in need gives you such an amazing feeling. The most satisfying part is seeing a room full of 200 people pulling together to help a single person. Seeing local businesses helping the community also makes you proud to be a part of it.

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

Danielle loves ” seeing a room full of…people pulling together to help”

Knowing I helped make it all happen for a great cause gives me such a sense of accomplishment! I love helping where I am needed. The actual amount raised may not be like winning the lottery, but for these families, it’s close because of the tremendous impact. Every little bit counts.


Do you help because you expect these families to pay you back in the future?


No way. I do not expect anything from anyone that I help. I just do it to get the feeling of being able to help, and that is enough for me.


Can fundraising be both emotionally and financially significant?


After my mom had her first transplant, I realized how much everything related to the transplant was going to cost. When your family is stressing out about how they are going to pay for the transplant and the medications that will keep them alive, it can honestly tear them apart. That stress can affect the entire family and fundraising can make a difference.

I have referred people to HelpHOPELive for years. I love that the funds raised go directly to the individual’s medical needs and not into some CEO’s pocket!


What does the word HOPE mean to you?


HOPE is life! Every day we take advantage of the things we’re given. We were all dealt a certain hand in life; it is who we are and what will make us stronger. Help those who are less fortune, because someday you may be the one who needs help.

Danielle Bailey HelpHOPELive

“Someday you may be the one who needs help,” said Danielle


Like Danielle, you can make a difference for a family facing a medical crisis. Start a fundraising campaign with our nonprofit today at helphopelive.org. Learn how to help an existing HelpHOPELive family by calling 800.642.8399.

Mobility Matters: Community Support Can Open Doors After Injury

As Mobility Awareness Month continues, we hear from Cole Sydnor, who was 16 when a diving accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. Today, almost five years after the accident, loved ones describe him as a fierce competitor, a compassionate friend and a community member dedicated to giving back.

Cole Sydnor HelpHOPELive

Cole coaches the Richmond Sportable Spokes wheelchair basketball team


Are mobility and independence important to you?


Mobility and independence are important no matter who you are. For me specifically, they are of the utmost importance, because a spinal cord injury can prohibit one from enjoying them freely. It has taken great effort to recover some semblance of the mobility and independence I once had. Now that I have, mobility and independence are allowing me to successfully navigate college and even hold a full-time internship away from home.


How has physical therapy impacted your life?


Without physical therapy, not only would I have an incomplete understanding of what I am capable of, I wouldn’t even have built up the strength to reach that potential.


What financial challenges has your family faced since the injury?


Financially, expenses were centered on making everything accessible. That began with adding an elevator to my house and converting my room and bathroom so they would be completely accessible—all three projects were very expensive. We also had to purchase a truck which could accommodate a specific (wheelchair) lift so that I’d be able to drive.

Cole Sydnor HelpHOPELive

The financial strain on Cole’s family was “significant” after injury

To this day, any medical expenses deemed unnecessary by insurance fall on my family, and it becomes their responsibility to make those purchases out of pocket. Expenses add up quickly. One current expense is outpatient physical therapy. On top of paying for college, the financial strain has been significant.


How did your community support you after you were injured?


At the time, I was certain that my life had been irreparably changed for the worse. Motivating myself was not enough to get my butt in gear, so I relied on friends and family to help me find that motivation to work towards recovery. I was able to lean on my loved ones whose encouragement was neverending. Without that presence constantly pushing me forward, it’s likely that I’d still be swallowed by despair, doing nothing and helping no one.

Expenses which go uncovered by insurance can rack up quickly. My elevator, room and bathroom renovation, and truck were all expenses that our community rallied to help fund. Without my community, we would have had no shot at those things and more.

Cole Syndor HelpHOPELive

Friends and family were a big source of support


Can you describe how it felt to go to college away from home?


Well, I was very nervous and apprehensive about going away to college. What comforted me was the proximity of campus to my home and the fact that my brother was going to be living with me. Like when I was first injured, I really relied on the encouragement and support of my friends and loved ones to make the leap to living on campus.

In hindsight, I was over-worried. The transition was surprisingly smooth, largely due to the very accommodating services of University of Richmond. They put in hard paths where they may have only been an off-road path, moved classes to the most accessible buildings, and placed me in a spacious room centrally located on campus.


What do you think the average person doesn’t realize about spinal cord injuries?


The average person may not understand the extent to which our injuries affect us “behind the scenes.” Most people only encounter people with spinal cord injuries when they are out in public but are never exposed to what it takes for them to shower, dress, use the restroom, etc. Those are the hardest parts about living with a spinal cord injury and unless someone makes an effort to understand, he or she may never realize it.


What are you most proud of?


I’ve been able to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries and spread a message about the importance of diving safety to youth in my community and beyond. A mother told me a story of how her son jumped off a river dock and broke his leg, not realizing that the water was very shallow. She was angry with him, but then he told her, “Mom, I didn’t dive. I remembered Cole’s story.”

Cole Sydnor

Cole is proud of his diving safety advocacy work


What are you looking forward to this year?


First and foremost, I’m looking forward to helping out with a fundraising event which will benefit a foundation that offers private scholarships for varsity or collegiate athletes who have been injured or become chronically ill. Next, I would say graduating from college. After that, if I could land a stable job in my field of interest, I would be stoked.

Most of all though, I look forward to the day that there is a cure for spinal cord injuries. My life would be transformed in an instant, the same way it was on the day I was injured. To me, the word “hope” means that one day I’ll walk again.


Do you know someone who needs community support to live a mobile and independent life after injury? Learn more about fundraising for mobility essentials at helphopelive.org. Mobility matters!

Mobility Matters: “You Are Always Stronger Than You Think You Are”

Just a few days before her final college exams, Morgan Ott fell through scaffolding and became paralyzed from the chest down with limited right hand function. Twenty-two year-old Morgan explains how life has changed since the injury and how mobility impacts her daily life.

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

Morgan fundraises for mobility essentials


How much did you know about spinal cord injury before you were injured?


Before my injury, I knew little to nothing about spinal cord injury. I have learned a tremendous amount since. When my injury happened, my close friends and family members researched spinal cord injury, the healing process and how my day-to-day life would be affected. I am learning new things every day.

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

Morgan says she “is learning new things every day”


How did your community respond to your injury?


My family has been by my side from the moment I was in the emergency room. In the beginning, they took me to all of my doctors’ appointments and therapy sessions. Now, they are still always there when I need someone to talk to or if I need any help. Coworkers, friends and the community also reached out to show me their support.

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

Friends and family have supported Morgan throughout her journey

My friends came to visit me in the hospital often, and one of my sorority sisters set me up with my first fundraising page with a goal of $5,000 on a crowdfunding platform. I switched from a crowdfunding site to HelpHOPELive because I had heard great things about the organization, and how it was easier to continuously raise funds for lifetime expenses with support from HelpHOPELive. Fundraising with HelpHOPELive allows me to request the funds when I need them instead of having to wait until I reach a set goal amount.


Will fundraising influence your mobility options?


Yes! I am currently fundraising for a Galileo tilt table, therapy at Project Walk, a standing frame, an FES system to help my circulation and keep my muscles active, and a Smartdrive power assist device to help me get around more easily by myself.


Have you experienced a range of different emotions since you were injured?


I think I have experienced probably every emotion possible, from extreme happiness to feeling very depressed. I often find that when I am the happiest, I think more about how much better my situation would be if I could just get up and walk again, and then I get very sad. It’s like extreme happiness comes with a price. Most days, though, I am very content and just happy to be where I am.


What do you think is the most common misconception about life in a wheelchair?


A lot of people assume that since I am in a wheelchair I need help with every daily activity or that I can’t live on my own or provide for myself. Most people are also surprised when they find out that I drive (with the use of hand controls).

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

“A lot of people assume…I need help with every daily activity”


What advice would you give to someone else living with a spinal cord injury?


You are always stronger than you think you are. No matter what obstacles life gives you, there are ways to get past them and continue living a healthy life. In terms of working with HelpHOPELive and covering your expenses, it’s never too late to fundraise, but the sooner the better.


Do you still strive to maintain an active lifestyle?


I recently moved down to southern California with my best friend. I am pursuing physical therapy twice a week for two hours per session, and I am finishing school with Arizona State University online. I am planning to get a job within the next couple of weeks to help me keep busy and make money. I also started attending a wheelchair dance class in which there are many other women around my age in chairs learning and performing routines.

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

Morgan attends a chair-inclusive dance class


What are your biggest mobility priorities at the moment?


I am focused on staying active with my physical therapies. My goal for physical therapy is to work on core strength and balance and gain back any amount of function, no matter how small.


Where would you like to be in five or 10 years?


In five years, I will have graduated from college and hopefully have a steady job that I enjoy. I can see myself in a steady relationship, establishing a life for myself, having done some traveling in Europe and Asia. In 10 years, I would like to have a successful career and a family.


In your video, you say, “We were going to make it through” after the accident. Do you still feel that way?


More so now than when I was in the hospital, I feel like I’m going to make it through. Keeping a positive attitude definitely helps me carry out day-to-day activities with more confidence and happiness.

Morgan Ott HelpHOPELive

“Keeping a positive attitude definitely helps me,” says Morgan


Unlock new mobility possibilities for yourself or someone you love. Start a fundraising campaign with HelpHOPELive at helphopelive.org. Mobility matters!

Voices of Hope: Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month, an opportunity to delve into the unique challenges and triumphs experienced by African-Americans. Here are two client perspectives on coping with discrimination, holding onto hope and serving as a self-advocate for your health.


David A. Jeffers

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David (above, with his wife Yasmine and sons) became paralyzed while at the beach with his family in August 2011. His family began fundraising with HelpHOPELive a month later.


Have you personally experienced or witnessed discrimination?

I’ve experienced discrimination both as a result of being black and as a result of being disabled. I have been treated as uneducated and unintelligent. People often choose to talk to my wife instead of me and ignore me, even when I address them directly. Little do they know that the black guy in the wheelchair is an active father, husband and mechanical engineer who graduated with the third highest GPA in my major.


How have you served as your own advocate?

Honestly, I’ve had to fight for almost every service I’ve used and the assistance I’ve received, including public transportation, rehabilitation and making sure neighborhood amenities are accessible. I document my experiences on my blog. I would advise others who face a similar struggle not to take ‘No’ for an answer. You must be persistent. For several issues I encountered, it took months to find a resolution.


What does Black History Month mean to you?

I wish we didn’t need to have Black History Month. I wish the history books and school curriculums could reflect events as they happened with a reverence for all cultures, but until that happens, it will remain an important month to me and my family.


What do you associate with the word ‘hope’?

A catastrophic injury like mine is truly life-changing. I could have died. As a quad, your whole approach to life has to change. You gain a totally new perspective on life. Hope gives me the ability to survive and thrive. Without hope, me and my family would not be as healthy or happy as we are today. My wife and kids are my main motivation and they help me find hope.


David is currently fundraising for Lokomat training ($85 per hour) and exercise therapy ($35 per hour) to improve his mobility. He has noticed a drop in strength and energy level since he stopped therapy in June of 2015 due to financial constraints.


Alison Jones

Alison Jones and son Alerique Dariso

Alison (above, with son Alerique Dariso) was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) when she was seventeen. She is seeking a living kidney donor so she can receive a life-changing transplant. Alison and her son started fundraising with HelpHOPELive in June 2015.


Have you personally experienced or witnessed discrimination?

I have had to seek numerous medical opinions to get treatment. Organ transplantation was never included in potential treatment options as my kidney function declined. I had to initiate the conversation myself. After speaking with other African-Americans, the majority knew people who were on dialysis or had died on dialysis, but only a small percentage knew someone who had received a transplant. In comparison, when I speak with non-minorities, I often hear, “A friend of mine had a kidney transplant. You are going to be just fine.”

The most painful racism I have experienced: one Valentine’s Day while my son was enrolled in a private preschool, he drew a picture of his “valentine,” who had blonde hair. His teacher pulled him aside and told him he couldn’t have a blonde valentine. That incident shaped my parenting and I began to prepare my son for discrimination and teach him that no one can limit his choices in life.


Any advice for other people who are facing the challenges of PKD?

For anyone living with chronic kidney disease or PKD, I strongly suggest participating in a support group. My greatest life strategies have evolved during support group meetings. Speaking with others who are experiencing similar health experiences is therapeutic and helps you to avoid depression.


What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a reminder that generations of people have overcome insurmountable obstacles through diligence and continuous effort. Black History Month reminds me that giving up is not an option.

African-Americans make up a minority within the general population, yet we face higher rates of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. All of these conditions can lead to kidney failure. One of the reasons I am looking forward to receiving a kidney transplant is so I can teach and advocate for early kidney function testing and proactive health behaviors to change current health trends.


What do you associate with the word ‘hope’?

I am so thankful to all of my loved ones who have supported me during this journey. To me, hope is another day of breath and opportunity. Every time God gives me another breath, I want to make it count, and that is living hope. After my life, hope will be there for more generations to strive to reach their highest level of potential and opportunity.


Alison is fundraising for uncovered costs associated with her kidney transplant preparations, including the cost of a lifetime of post-transplant anti-rejection medications.