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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.