Tag Archives: Ethan Kadish

4 Ways To Engage Your Faith Community For Fundraising

In honor of National Donor Sabbath this week, here are a few ideas for how to engage your faith community in fundraising.

Spread Awareness With National Donor Sabbath

Between November 13 and November 15, faith communities across the country will celebrate National Donor Sabbath, a time to honor individuals who have saved lives through organ donation. It’s an opportunity for discussion and education: as Donate Life California notes, “ALL major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation, and believe it to be a final act of kindness and generosity.”

National Donor Sabbath 2015

Source: donatelife.net

HelpHOPELive will be distributing free organ donor awareness materials to congregants at St. David’s Episcopal Church in our local Wayne, PA community this year. Consider asking your faith community to honor the occasion in 2016. Contact your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator to request awareness materials to help spread the word.

Showcase Ways To Make A Difference

Your place of worship may be an ideal location to bring people together to sign up to be bone marrow donors, blood donors or registered organ donors. These drives can raise awareness for a cause, inspire attendees to donate to your HelpHOPELive Campaign and create an opportunity to enlist community volunteers who may help you to promote your Campaign or plan future fundraising events.

bone marrow drive swab

Hold a bone marrow drive to raise awareness and support for your Campaign.

In 2010, HelpHOPELive client Vinodkumar Challagundla desperately needed a bone marrow transplant to fight myelofibrosis. His faith community came together to hold bone marrow drives across the country at which potential donors could submit their cheek swabs for compatibility testing. The community found overwhelming support for the initiatives: more than 15,000 people joined the National Marrow Donor Program registry through the drives, including the donor that would save his life.

Hold A Fundraiser

A place of worship can be a great venue for a fundraising event, from a post-service pancake breakfast to a community yard sale. If you are already involved with a faith community, contact your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator for event ideas that will suit the venue and audience.

pancake breakfast

Your place of worship could be a great location for a fundraising event.

If your faith community has a suitable concert area or holds a regular musical event, consider engaging faith leaders to help you plan a concert to fundraise for your Campaign. A faith-based community concert in honor of HelpHOPELive client Allen West Edgar attracted over 300 attendees and raised significant proceeds towards Allen’s kidney transplant. Allen even performed at the concert, showing attendees how much their support meant to him.

Engage A Volunteer Network

Some faith communities have a social service and outreach component built into their mission or their youth organizations. See if your place of worship would be willing to help you reach out to individuals who want to support your fundraising efforts in the name of their faith. HelpHOPELive client Ethan Kadish’s friends and family members engaged their faith community to support Ethan through two projects, a 5K event and a performance by a local youth band, that tied into service expectations for a coming-of-age religious ceremony.


Find enthusiastic volunteers through your faith community.

Want more fundraising tips and ideas? Reach out to your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator for support and browse our Blog for additional insights.

A Bolt Out Of The Blue: Ethan’s Story

For the friends and family of Ethan Kadish, the phrase “a bolt out of the blue” is much more than an expression. It’s a description of a day that changed their lives forever.

Ethan was an all-American student who loved hitting home runs and performing in the school play. In June of 2013, Ethan was playing outdoors at a summer camp in Indiana when a lightning bolt launched at him out of a clear blue sky, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury that altered his world in an instant. Ethan now depends on nursing care, a wheelchair and a feeding tube. He cannot speak or purposefully move his body without assistance.

HelpHOPELive Ethan Kadish lightning injury

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWisC

Today is the second anniversary of Ethan’s injury. We spoke to Jen Smilg, a close friend of the Kadish family, to learn more about Ethan, the strength of his support network and his family’s limitless resilience.

How did you learn about Ethan’s accident?

One of my three sons, Ethan Smilg, is close in age to Ethan’s brother, Zakary. My husband and I became close friends with Ethan’s parents after our children met, and we became each other’s emergency contacts. I received the phone call from the Emergency Department in Indianapolis.

Ethan Kadish HelpHOPELive lightning injury

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWxUT

How did Team Ethan emerge as a community support network?

Another close family friend developed Team Ethan as a way to organize the delivery of meals, hospital visits and overnight stays. Ethan’s accident brought our faith-based and local communities together to support the Kadish family. The community is still coming together all the time to support his recovery. A small group of us remain on call to stay with Ethan when he is hospitalized. We all just do what needs to be done.

Today, there are not only events orchestrated by close friends and family but also spin-off fundraising events by supporters who have heard about his condition, with 100% of the proceeds donated to HelpHOPELive in Ethan’s honor. We have inspired others to raise awareness and fundraise for HelpHOPELive to support his family’s expenses.

Everywhere you look there are people connecting with Ethan’s story and making an effort to bring hope and relief to his family. Dan Nichols, a well-known Jewish musician, attended the summer camp where Ethan was injured. He reworked an acoustic version of his song and prayer, Chazak, to dedicate to Ethan. Amy Bennett and her husband, Rabbi Jim Bennett, are both involved with the summer camp where Ethan sustained his injury. Amy created beautiful bracelets and has donated several thousands of dollars from bracelet sales directly to HelpHOPELive in honor of Ethan.

Ethan’s Little League Team organized home run derbies to fundraise and his middle school held bake sales and donated the proceeds to his HelpHOPELive campaign. Every little bit helps, from major fundraising events to local lemonade stands.

bracelets Chazak HelpHOPELive Ethan Kadish

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWxUT

How did Team Ethan respond to the expenses associated with his injury?

Ethan’s family faced the financial burden of his treatment head-on. There are so many elements that must be managed, from overnight care to rehabilitation, education and transportation. His family continues to fundraise for these needs through HelpHOPELive, and they draw both financial and emotional support from the community.

HelpHOPELive gave us the essentials and we took it from there. Many of Ethan’s supporters have stepped up to donate their time as well as their financial resources.

Ethan Kadish Team Ethan HelpHOPELive injury lightning

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWxUT

What sort of therapy does Ethan participate in?

Ethan takes part in daily physical therapies, occupational and speech therapy in his home and at a local rehabilitation center. There have been small victories.  Ethan smiles and laughs when he hears music. We’ve mourned the Ethan we used to know and we are now embracing the new Ethan. Ethan’s peers have been very accepting and embrace his new identity.

Ethan Kadish physical therapy rehabilitation lightning injury HelpHOPELive

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWxUT

Has Ethan’s injury created a need for greater advocacy or safety precautions?

Raising awareness about the bolt out of the blue phenomenon is definitely important, and so is lightning awareness. Weather stations should take precautions to warn local citizens about these dangers, and individuals should respond to dangerous weather appropriately. However, I strongly believe that fear and terror are not appropriate responses. My kids and Ethan’s siblings have continued to return to the summer camp where Ethan was injured. The camp is their community away from home, and this accident should not stop them or any other camper from experiencing that.

There have been quite a few recent news stories about people being struck by a rogue bolt from a blue sky.  These sorts of stories provide an opening for community support and family connections that can be incredibly meaningful. I think connecting with families who have gone through similar situations would be a powerful resource.

Ethan Kadish brother family lightning injury HelpHOPELive

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWisC

How did Ethan’s injury impact his family?

The term “bolt out of the blue” sums it up: his family still remains unsure of what the future holds for Ethan. Most doctors have never even encountered a lightning strike survivor. The uncertainty is tough to deal with, but everyone keeps going.

At social occasions people will almost always ask the question, “How are Ethan’s parents doing?”  My answer is, Scott and Alexia’s life is what it is, filled with the ups and downs and constant change of parenting three children. Life threw them a curveball and they are all adapting as any parent or family would.

Ethan’s family has had to learn as they go because his condition is so rare. They probably know more about brain injuries and the effects of lightning now than almost any other family out there. They know advanced medical terms cold. All of his family members have become advocates for his care and recovery.

Ethan Kadish hospital HelpHOPELive injury

Image source: http://ow.ly/OWisC

Jen Smilg manages the Team Ethan official website as well as the associated social media accounts.

Ethan and his family face
lifelong expenses associated with his injury. Visit Ethan’s HelpHOPELive Page to learn more about his medical needs and how you can help.