Tag Archives: hope

You Made Hope Happen in 2016

We know that when you donate to support our mission, you may not always see the direct impact of those dollars. And as a member of the Help Hope Live community, you may not realize how your efforts spark change and inspire action in others.

That’s why we’ve put together this post–to show friends like you how you make a positive difference, every single day, by being part of the Help Hope Live family. Your time and effort added up to some big numbers with huge impact in Fiscal Year 2016.

Help Hope Live logo


Last year, you helped:


Launch 732 new medical fundraising campaigns

Provide $9.3 million to help cover vital medical and related expenses

Support the needs of 1,400 patients and families facing the most difficult challenge of their lives: a lifesaving transplant or a life-changing catastrophic injury or illness.

But you didn’t stop there…


You also helped:


Crush 4,942 medical fundraising goals

Plan 550 gatherings of hope nationwide

Inspire 2,451 words of gratitude

Provide 57 emergency assistance grants to help families avoid an immediate medical crisis

Honor 25 loved ones’ legacies, and

Joined a community of 3,224 empowered and compassionate friends and neighbors


Families across the country felt the tangible impact. 16 Help Hope Live patients reported finding a “new normal” after a devastating medical crisis altered their lives.

“Thanks to so many wonderful people, my family and I have reached our Help Hope Live goal for my double lung transplant recovery. We have no idea what the future will bring, but hopefully, I will continue getting stronger every day. I cherish breathing.”

Bob Wollenberg Help Hope Live

Bob Wollenberg, Great Lakes Lung Transplant Fund


10 patients reached a major independence milestone after a catastrophic injury, from going to college to driving and living independently.

“Alex’s physical therapy sessions are two hours and he enjoys every minute of it! He loves traveling wherever his [new] vehicle takes him.” He is pictured below with wife, Marina: “A new chapter is beginning for two deserving young people who have overcome so much.”

alex

Alex Paul, Northeast Spinal Cord Injury Fund


To us, these aren’t just numbers. They are symbols of hope in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances.

When you engage with Help Hope Live as a donor, patient, or volunteer, you are shouting hope from the rooftops. You are refusing to let a medical crisis dominate the course of a life. You are defying the negative noise the world throws at you by taking a stand for strong, loving communities and life-changing new beginnings. You are telling someone, “You matter. Your voice is heard. Your story is my story, too.

That’s what it really means to help hope live. Never stop: the world needs you, and so do we.


Keep hope alive in 2017!


Click here to make a one-time or recurring donation to our nonprofit to keep our mission strong in 2017 and beyond. And from all of us…thank you!

What the Holiday Season Means to Me After a Spinal Cord Injury

In 2009, Kirk Williams was a motivated Colorado sociology graduate who filled his downtime with outdoor adventures and sports. In November of that year, a “complete freak accident, like trip-over-your-shoelaces kind of crash” changed his life: Kirk sustained a C5 spinal cord injury as he flew over the handlebars of his mountain bike. The injury left him paralyzed with a limited amount of feeling in his legs and limited use of his fingers.

kirk_10

Kirk didn’t want his injury to put the brakes on his full and active lifestyle

As soon as he was able, Kirk began to immerse himself once again in outdoor adventures and sports. “My injury did influence my hobbies but I haven’t stopped doing what I love,” he explained. “I still do photography, camp, mountain bike [and] new hobbies like wheelchair rugby, scuba diving and hand cycling. I love travel and I was not reluctant at all to travel after my injury.”

Photo by SCI Recovery Project via Facebook.

Rehabilitation helped Kirk to reclaim his adventurous lifestyle, little by little. Source

Kirk is the founder, director and pilot/camera operator of the UAV-powered video production agency Birds Eye Optics. “It’s wild to think that while most people may think that since I’m in a wheelchair, my perspective is limited,” observed Kirk. “Actually, with my career, I see further than ever before.”

x

“With my career, I see further than ever before.”

He credits fundraising and community support as essential parts of his journey. “My community of family and friends has been one of the most significant parts of me getting where I am today,” said Kirk. “Without the help of friends, family and HelpHOPELive, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the amazing equipment and lifestyle that I love to live. With my incredible support system, I’ve surpassed even my wildest dreams of what is possible.

I see each [injury] anniversary as a day to look back and see just how far I’ve progressed. I remind myself that anything is possible. I’ve taken the cards I’ve been dealt to not only survive but thrive in what first seemed nearly impossible circumstances.”

x

On each injury anniversary, “I remind myself that anything is possible.”

Asked about the end of the year approaching, Kirk captured a sentiment shared by many of our clients, whether they are living with an injury or waiting for a transplant: the holidays are a time for hope, family and looking to the future. “The holidays are always a wonderful time of year,” explained Kirk. “I can catch up with friends and family and we can enjoy each other’s company. As crazy as they are, it’s always rewarding to have my entire family together in one place.”

The hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t appeal to Kirk, who said, “my favorite part of the holidays is being able to relax with the ones you love. It’s not about the busy times for me…it’s the downtime that I cherish the most. And the food!”

x

What do the holidays mean to Kirk? Hope, family and looking to the future.

I usually make a New Year’s resolution,” said Kirk. “It’s a good chance for me to attack my goals with a refreshed set of eyes.”

His advice for others entering the holiday season and looking ahead to the new year? “Life is short, so why not try to experience it to the fullest? Get out there and try everything you can. You can be as happy or as upset about your injury and your life as you choose to be. It’s entirely up to you.

x

Kirk says happiness after a spinal cord injury “is entirely up to you.”

What does hope mean to Kirk? “Hope means having my eyes set on what lays ahead, and knowing there is always a possibility for positivity given the right mindset.”

We know fundraising can make a significant impact on an individual’s life through the power of community, both financially and emotionally. As you continue to trust our nonprofit for a lifetime of medical fundraising support, we hope this holiday season brings you memorable times with friends and family and plenty of opportunities to look ahead, with hope.

x

From our family to yours! Photo by Kirk.


Kirk Williams continues to fundraise with HelpHOPELive for the lifetime out-of-pocket medical and related expenses associated with his injury.

Bella Da Dawg is Kirk’s four-legged companion. She “spends most of her days dreaming of tennis balls” and “screwing up sound from her habitual snoring and striking good looks.”

Voices Of Hope: I Am Living Proof Of What An Organ Donor Can Do

Lauren Ann Arkens received a lung transplant in December 2015 after years of struggling with the effects of cystic fibrosis. She draws support from a strong community of friends and family members including her husband, Tyler. We asked Lauren and Tyler for their perspectives on fundraising and being there for the people you love.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Lauren Ann, Lily and Tyler Arkens


How did the reality of lung transplantation differ from your expectations?


Lauren: I had no expectations going in. I heard about what could happen and what was going to happen but nothing can prepare you for what actually happens. In a way, I am kind of happy I didn’t speak with anyone prior to my transplant because I think I would have been comparing what I am going through to what they are going through. Everyone is different and everyone’s experience is going to be different.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“Nothing can prepare you for what actually happens” during a transplant

Tyler: This is a really hard question. Personally, the only expectation I had was that life would be noticeably different, that the pieces would fall into place and I would simply deal with however they landed. I know I told a lot of people, “Everything will work out the way it should. Maybe not the way I want, but the way it should,” and I just left it at that.


What’s the worst part of life after transplant? What’s the best part?


L: The worst parts of life post-transplant are all the follow-up appointments and specialists I have to see. I see more doctors now that I am “healthy” than I did when I was sick and on the waiting list. The best part of life post-transplant is getting three hours back in my day when I used to have to use a vest and nebulizer treatments. Also all the energy I have, being able to move around, exercise, run and be a mom and wife. All of these things people may take for granted, but for me, the little things were the most difficult pre-transplant.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Lauren sees more doctors now that she is “healthy”

T: The worst part is by far the uncertainty. We had our fair share of hospitalizations when Lauren was still seeing her pulmonary doctors and we could usually tell when something wasn’t quite right; Lauren knew her body pretty well. Today, we have a new normal that we’re adjusting to. While Lauren might feel fine internally, there could be more going on, so when we visit, the uncertainty of whether or not Lauren is going to be hospitalized can be a little frustrating.

The best part is Lauren’s quality of life. She’s just happier. Things are fun and funny again. You can see her light up with joy when something touches her heart or fills her cup. She has a tremendous amount of energy, part of which is more oxygen in her system, and part of which is realizing that she’s really been provided another chance.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“You can see her light up with joy” again, said Tyler


Lauren, is your health journey completely over now that you’ve been transplanted?


L: Absolutely not! Being transplanted just adds another chapter. There is a lot of care that goes into maintaining new lungs. My transplant team has a home monitoring program that I have to do, I have lab work done once a week and I have appointments two to three times per month. It is never-ending but it is all for the better! This was a gift–a huge gift–and I don’t want to fail at it. My work is never going to end.

T: Lauren is a worker. I have described her as tenacious, consistent and determined. She understands what it takes to succeed. The expectations have been laid out and she doesn’t take it lightly. She understands the gift and the work required to keep it.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Lauren must work daily to keep her lungs healthy


What’s one thing about transplants you wish everyone knew and understood?


L: People don’t understand the time and money it takes to have a transplant. Medications are expensive, co-pays are high and some medications are not covered by insurance. There are hospital stays that may be unexpected plus regular appointments and procedures. None of this is easy. It can be draining mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Transplants are mentally, physically, emotionally and financially draining

T: There is so much that people don’t or can’t understand with regard to chronic illnesses and treatments. We’ve learned to give people the simplest answers and to operate from the mindset that every body is different and everyone’s response to treatment is different. It isn’t a simple process in which you check the boxes and reach a goal. This is a lifetime of learning, adjusting and adapting. That’s hard to explain [to others].

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“Nurse Lily” helps mom with home health care


How did you learn about HelpHOPELive?


L: My transplant social worker told us about HelpHOPELive and said that many of her patients had great success with it. We decided to use HelpHOPELive because it was the best option for us. A family friend set up a campaign for us so we didn’t have to worry about it on top of everything else we were dealing with. One factor was that HelpHOPELive donations would be tax deductible for the person donating and we would not be taxed on the funds we requested for medical and related expenses.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Fundraising helps cover out-of-pocket medical needs

T: It was hands down the best program for us to fundraise with. As a nonprofit organization, it allows the patient to benefit the most and it gives people peace of mind when donating that their gift or donation will be used wisely and never for another purpose.


Why is fundraising important to you on this transplant journey?


L: To be honest and blunt, if it wasn’t for fundraising, I do not know how we would have afforded medication, gas for appointments, meals and three months of house and electric bill payments while I was off work. All of that has been HUGE and has made such a difference for us in not having to worry while recovering.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“I do not know how we would have afforded medication” without fundraising

T: Fundraising helps us afford the things we need for Lauren to survive. But it also provides us with a network of people who have really shown that they care about Lauren and her journey. It blows me away. Fundraising gives people peace of mind that they are supporting someone who really needs their help. Lauren is a real, live person with whom they can meet and she can give them credit and thanks for what they’ve done to support her journey. Finally, fundraising allows us an opportunity to pay it forward. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support, and that has motivated us to go out and give back on behalf of that community.


What advice would you give to someone who has just been added to the lung transplant waiting list?


L: Fundraise as soon as you get listed or even before. We benefited greatly from fundraising early. It made going into the transplant a little easier knowing we had money to pay for things we needed when we needed them.

T: Don’t think about the enormity of the situation and don’t let the weight of the unknown get to you. If you’re able, continue to live your life. Take care of yourself and handle your business every day. That’s all you can do. Then, when your time comes, just focus on the instructions you’ve been given and execute.


How important are friends and family members during this process?


L: It’s extremely important to have friends and family involved in the process. If it wasn’t for the support we received, whether financial or through prayers, I don’t know where we would be today. It took a lot of pressure off of my husband during my period of recovery so he didn’t have to handle everything. People care and they are often amazed at what a person can go through and how they can recover.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Friends and family support Lauren with “Lungs N Roses” shirts

T: We’ve developed a very close, tight-knit group of people we can count on when we need to. Interestingly enough, it’s not the people you see or talk to the most who will step up when you need them the most. It’s the people who, when you see them, you feel like you can pick right back up where you left off.

Support for us has come in a lot of different forms. We had a small team that set up meals, household chores, donations, gift cards, taking our daughter, Lily, to and from school and staying overnight while Lauren was hospitalized and recovering. We’ve benefited greatly by creating different ways for people to help and giving them options.


Tyler, can caregiving during a transplant change a relationship?


T: It creates a different dynamic for each relationship. My relationship with Lauren changed a lot. Lauren was in survival mode and despite not wanting the help (she has a strong will), she needed it. It’s hard to ask for help. From my perspective, all I wanted for Lauren was to feel well. I had to adjust to the new dynamic of our lives. There is always a give and take in every relationship. You really have to open yourself up to give yourself to someone and accept someone.

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“My relationship with Lauren changed a lot,” said Tyler


Are you an advocate for organ donation?


L: I am living proof of what an organ donor can do. It is a chance at a better life. My life was so restricted pre-transplant, and now, what I can do is endless.

T: Yes; the obvious reason for that is because I’ve seen someone’s life change completely. But even if our result wasn’t as positive as it has been, I would continue to be an advocate. We’re all called to give life. We need to discover that giving life has many different meanings and it looks different for everyone. If we’re all really trying to give life, why not give part of yourself to someone who needs it?

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

Tyler celebrates his wife’s transplant journey


What does the word HOPE mean to you?


T: Hope is knowing that no matter what you’re going through, there is something better on the other side. It is contagious and inspiring and if we’d just let it, it would change our world.

L: Hope means believing that there is something better for you. And whatever Tyler said!

Lauren Ann Arkens HelpHOPELive

“There is something better on the other side.”


Learn more about Lauren and Tyler’s journey at helphopelive.org. Find out how you can support a spouse or loved one with their out-of-pocket transplant expenses by reaching out to HelpHOPELive on Twitter.

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.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

I Gave My Kidney To Someone I’d Never Met

In 2014, Debra Brock was facing chronic renal failure after a 30-year battle with insulin-dependent diabetes. A mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of five, Debra knew she wouldn’t be able to continue supporting her family without a kidney transplant. That’s when family friend Amy Krontz made an incredible decision: she started the process of becoming a living donor for Debra, a woman she had never met.

touched by transplant full


How are you and Debra connected?


Amy: Debra’s sister and I had worked in some volunteer groups together, which is how I found out that she needed a donor. We did not meet until I received final approval to be her living kidney donor.

Amy and Deb Brock HelpHOPELive

Living donor Amy with Deb Brock


What made you decide to donate to someone you didn’t know?


Amy: Debra’s sister posted on Facebook about their family’s need to find a kidney donor and that they were fundraising with HelpHOPELive. I recalled the pictures and posts that expressed Debra’s importance as the primary matriarch in a very close and involved family. I was particularly moved by her role in her grandchildren’s lives. I realized that such a positive, loving influence would be a tragic loss. Once I found out that Debra had gone through dramatic weight loss and had taken measures to control her diabetes but that her kidney damage was still too severe to reverse, I wanted to try to help.

Deb Brock HelpHOPELive

Deb is the “matriarch” of her family, says Amy


What were the preparations like?


Amy: I was tested beginning in February 2014 and I donated in August 2014. I had a few blood draws, a 24-hour period of urine collection and a 3-hour glucose test. I also took part in an educational appointment in which I was thoroughly informed about the procedure, including what to expect and all of the possible complications related to living donation.


What would have happened if Debra didn’t get a kidney?


Amy: Debra would likely still be on daily dialysis and would be experiencing complications with not just her kidneys but with other organ systems by now.

Debra: I would have continued with dialysis and prayed for more time to look for donors. Before Amy donated her kidney to me, every day I was faced with death.

Deb Brock HelpHOPELive

“Every day I was faced with death” before the transplant, says Deb


How did the gift of life impact your health?


Debra: The big difference is, I feel terrific! I actually enjoy going to the bathroom now because of my improved kidney function. I have freedom to plan activities with my family and not worry about bringing along my dialysis equipment.

Amy: The procedure was easier to endure than I had imagined. I was well-informed and experienced less post-operative pain and recovery than I had initially anticipated. The risks involved in being a living donor are very small, and making some healthy lifestyle changes has helped me to avoid any complications. A little bit of my time and minor pain for a couple of weeks afterward were small sacrifices to enrich and extend the life of another.

Ultimately, my life has not been compromised in any way living with one kidney. Living donation vastly improves the chances of a successful transplant compared to deceased donor outcomes. If I had more kidneys to give, I would do it all over again, and I strongly encourage others to consider it as well.

Deb Brock HelpHOPELive

The gift of life has helped Deb return to her life with family and “new babies”


Amy, did fundraising provide you assistance as a living donor?


Amy: I was an unemployed nursing student when I donated. I was reimbursed for mileage and travel for testing and appointments related to the donation.


Debra, why do you fundraise with HelpHOPELive?


Debra: My kidney transplant social worker gave me materials to review, and I chose HelpHOPELive because of the reviews I read. I had enough concerns on my mind as I was preparing for the transplant, and HelpHOPELive eliminated my worries about money. Today, I fundraise for prescriptions, travel expenses for post-care treatment and funds in case any medical emergencies take place.

Deb Brock HelpHOPELive fundraiser

Deb and her family fundraise for ongoing post-transplant costs


Do you share a special bond today?


Amy: Most definitely. We remain in contact and I am very grateful for the experience and for Debra’s appreciation for each new day. The choice I made to become her donor is reaffirmed consistently through my interactions with Debra and her family.

Debra: Amy and I share a bond that is not comparable even to a sister or your best female friend. She has given me a part of her. She has given me life. She has given me more time to spend with my family. I love her.


Debra, what does hope mean to you?


Debra: Hope means that there is a tomorrow!


touched by transplant fullWant to make a difference in the lives of kidney transplant recipients and living donors? Make a donation to the HelpHOPELive General Operating Fund today and help us support community-based fundraising campaigns for families.