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HelpHOPELive to Present U.S. Senator Pat Toomey 2015 Advocacy Award for Organ Donor Awareness

Top-ranked Philadelphia charity will honor Sen. Toomey (R-Pa.) at annual Live It Up! benefit on Friday, October 16 at Valley Forge Military Academy.

help-hope-live-it-up

WAYNE, Pa. – Oct. 16, 2015 – HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization engaging communities in fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness, today announced that U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will receive the 2015 Advocacy Award for efforts on behalf of child organ transplant candidates. HelpHOPELive will present the award to Sen. Toomey at the organization’s annual Live It Up! benefit to be held Friday, October 16 from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. EDT at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa.

“Every year HelpHOPELive has the opportunity to meet and work with compassionate people in our region and across the country who are dedicated to paying it forward and supporting those who need an organ transplant or are facing serious injury or illness,” said HelpHOPELive CEO David Bakelman. “We have great admiration for Sen. Toomey’s efforts to make medical need and suitability, rather than age, the primary criteria in determining how organ donations are prioritized. It is a pleasure to present him with this year’s Advocacy Award.”

HelpHOPELive will also recognize four additional honorees at the organization’s annual benefit this week.

Christine first began contributing to HelpHOPELive in 1983 to help heart transplant patients fundraise for a procedure many still considered experimental at the time. During her quarter-century of service to HelpHOPELive, Christine has attracted loyal supporters to the organization’s cause through word-of-mouth and home fundraising events.

Libby Judge, a West Chester, Pa. mother and grandmother, was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. Friends and community members who had played tennis and golf with Libby volunteered to serve as team members of a fundraising campaign in her honor.

Jean DelMuto was struggling with the effects of polycystic kidney disease and was facing at least a 5-year wait for a kidney transplant. Her nephew, Jim Melwert, the suburban bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060, made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to save Jean’s life.

  • Live Award for inspiration after illness – Aaron Loy

Student athlete Aaron Loy was diagnosed with an aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis as a freshman at the University of California Santa Barbara. Doctors were able to save Aaron, but only after amputating both of his lower legs. Aaron took his first steps in prosthetic legs last year and has returned to college, even biking to class.

Proceeds from the annual Live It Up! benefit will support HelpHOPELive’s general operating fund. Since its foundation in 1983, the organization has raised more than $100 million to pay for patient medical expenses.

About HelpHOPELive

HelpHOPELive is a national nonprofit engaging communities in fundraising to help patients and families ease the financial burden of a medical crisis. For more than 30 years HelpHOPELive has been showing community volunteers how to bring together a network of relatives, friends and neighbors in fundraising efforts to help cover the costs of uninsured medical expenses. Since its inception in 1983, HelpHOPELive has helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars to cover a wide range of medical expenses including out-of-pocket costs for transplants, catastrophic injuries and illnesses. As a nonprofit, the financial support provided to patients and their families does not jeopardize their medical coverage status, and contributions are tax deductible to members of the community who support these efforts. For more information, visit www.helphopelive.org, visit the HelpHOPELive Facebook page, and follow @HelpHOPELiveorg on Twitter.

 

Meet Advocacy Award Honoree Senator Pat Toomey

We present our 2015 Advocacy award to Senator Pat Toomey for organ donor awareness and disability advocacy.

Senator Pat Toomey joined the U.S. Senate in 2011. In May of 2013, he became acquainted with the story of a ten-year-old girl living in Philadelphia who was fighting for her life following a cystic fibrosis diagnosis. Sarah Murnaghan desperately needed a double lung transplant, but according to the Under 12 Rule established by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, Sarah would not be able to join the waiting list for an adult double lung transplant until she turned twelve. Far fewer lungs are available for children under 12 than for adults. As Sarah’s chances of a lifesaving transplant grew slim, her parents launched a desperate online campaign to change transplant regulations to save Sarah’s life.

Senator Pat Toomey with Sarah Murnaghan

Senator Pat Toomey with Sarah Murnaghan

With only weeks left to live without a transplant, Sarah was granted a ten-day period in which she would be placed on the adult transplant list. After those ten days, she would return to the children’s transplant list. As Sarah and her family waited and appealed to their government in a state of desperation, Senator Toomey addressed the U.S. Senate to appeal to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on Sarah’s behalf.

“I rise to speak briefly about a heartrending situation in Pennsylvania,” Toomey said. “There is a brave little ten-year-old girl who is fighting for her life at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. At this moment, her government is failing her…The girl is a good candidate, but she’s not on the list.”

Senator Pat Toomey

Senator Toomey addressed the Senate on behalf of Sarah.

Toomey stressed the importance of making a permanent change to the rule, not a one-off exception for Sarah. “What we want is a system that works,” he said. “I think that any child who is a viable candidate for the adult transplant and who has sufficiency urgency ought to be able to go on the adult list. We’re not suggesting that we make an exception for Sarah…stop making exceptions that exclude Sarah. We’re asking for a change in a policy that is flawed.”

Senator Toomey’s appeal on behalf of Sarah worked. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network not only allowed Sarah to be placed on the adult waiting list, they agreed to allow children under 12 to be given case-by-case exceptions based on their eligibility and health condition.

Sarah Murnaghan

Today, Sarah is breathing on her own thanks to the Senator’s efforts.

Today, after a successful double lung transplant with adult lungs, Sarah is breathing on her own for the first time in years. Senator Toomey took a stand on the Senate floor, and his advocacy saved Sarah’s life and impacted dozens of other families in need.

Senator Toomey’s advocacy initiatives extend to multiple areas that impact HelpHOPELive clients. With Senator Bob Casey, he supported the bipartisan Achieving a Better Life Experience bill, proposed to help families to save funds for their loved ones living with disabilities.

Senator Toomey ABLE Act

Senator Toomey advocates on behalf of people with disabilities and their families.

The Advocacy award will be presented to Senator Toomey at this year’s HelpHOPE-Live It Up! benefit on October16.

HelpHOPE-Live It Up! logo Live It Up! Live It Up 2015 annual event charity galaEach year at HelpHOPELive’s annual signature fundraising event, HelpHOPE-Live It Up!, we honor community heroes who prove why our mission matters with the Help, HOPE and Live awards. In 2015, we’re also giving out an Advocacy and Volunteer of the Year award.