Tag Archives: Michael Carns

American Veterans Need Our Help

November 11 is Veterans Day. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day was established in 1954 to recognize all individuals who have served America in uniform. Today, we acknowledge both veterans and their families not just on November 11 but all month long.

Veterans Day is a powerful opportunity to learn about the secret struggles many veterans face after serving our country – just ask these three Help Hope Live veterans facing lifelong medical challenges of their own.

Name: Renee Whisner

How Renee Served: Worked in logistics in the U.S. Air Force for four years ensuring soldiers had the weapons they needed during Desert Storm.

Renee Fundraises for Help Hope Live: To provide financial assistance for specialized physical therapy to gain mobility and independence after a spinal cord injury.

Daily Challenges: After a spinal cord injury, “the Renee I see in my head is not the same Renee I see in the mirror.”

Renee struggles with a host of physical issues since a cab driver crashed into a tree with Renee in the cab, leaving her with paralysis from the chest down.

What You Don’t Know About Me: “People think soldiers have a lot of financial support, or that we try to milk the government for everything it has. We are simply hoping to get what we were guaranteed when we signed up to protect and serve our country. That’s not to mention the role of post-traumatic stress disorder and the ways it affects us, our friends, and our family members.”

Name: Mary Orr

How Mary Served: Worked in hospital wards and clinics and provided physical and occupational therapy. Also worked as a systems analyst and taught leadership classes at the Naval School of Health Sciences.

Mary Fundraises for Help Hope Live: To cover treatment, medications, and supplements for Parkinson’s disease.

Daily Challenges: “I have limited windows of functionality where I can go to appointments on top of taking care of normal activities of daily living. I am often incapacitated or housebound and in chronic, severe pain.”

What You Don’t Know About Me: “Everyone thinks veterans get excellent, affordable medical care. This is not the truth for all conditions. Since most of the newer treatments that could help me are not approved by the FDA, I have to pay for them entirely out of my own pocket. My retirement pension only covers the cost of rent.”

Name: Michael Carns

How Michael Served: Trained personnel how to detect and defeat IEDs and overcome vehicle rollovers.

He Fundraises for Help Hope Live: To offset the cost of physical therapy and equipment needed to improve balance and mobility issues due to multiple sclerosis.

Daily Challenges: “While contending with pain and massive expenses, I have been in a four-year struggle with the Veterans Administration to cover everything from a torn ACL to a hernia as a result of my multiple sclerosis diagnosis.”

What You Don’t Know About Me: “Veterans fight on the front lines and still fight upon their return for all that was promised when they enlisted. Veterans struggle financially every day and frequently have to contend with inefficiency, bureaucracy, and red tape to get our medical needs met.”

Four Powerful Ways to Help Veterans Today

  1. Donate to a Nonprofit Cause

If you have the resources, consider making a donation to your favorite charity today in honor of the men and women who serve our country.

If you’d like to donate to Help Hope Live to help our nonprofit support veterans and civilians facing a medical crisis, visit www.helphopelive.org and click Donate. Your support is deeply appreciated.

  1. Volunteer

Find local veterans groups online to see how you can donate your time to help support veterans in need.

“Simple things we take for granted are impossible,” explained Mary, “like going to the store, taking your granddaughter to a movie, or going out to dinner.”  Your time could help to put new activities and experiences within reach for veterans with limited mobility or resources.

  1. Be There

If you have an opportunity to support a veteran simply with your presence and a listening ear, take it. Our client Joey Walker, a former military diver, believes “all veterans have emotional and physical issues connected to their service. The best way to help is to listen, and be a friend. Just be there.”

  1. Say Thanks

“We are grandmas, grandpas, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters,” said Renee. “We don’t expect to be thanked, but it’s nice to be thought about.”

If you have the opportunity today, thank a veteran. You may never know how much your words help.

They put it all on the line to support our nation. Let’s take the opportunity to give back. Follow these tips, or find your own special way to celebrate Veterans Day this year.

HelpHOPELive Clients In The News October 2015

October brought us falling leaves, pumpkin spice indulgence and autumn fundraising milestones! Here are three compelling client stories featured in the news this month.

Matt Collura: Annual 5K Provides Financial And Emotional Benefits

Matt Collura 5K Run/Walk

In March of 2011, the Collura family, of Monroe Township, N.J. was rocked by a shocking accident: a snowboarding injury left then-28-year-old Matt Collura reliant on a wheelchair for mobility as he coped with a life-threatening traumatic brain injury. From acquiring specialized accessibility equipment that would keep him safe in his home to pursuing intensive rehabilitative therapy, Matt was facing a long emotionally and financially draining road to recovery. His friends and family members turned to HelpHOPELive for support. With Matt’s passion for athletics and running, a friend suggested planning a 5K fundraiser in his honor to rally community members to help cover the uninsured expenses as a result of injury.

Matt Collura 5K Run/Walk 2015

The Matt Collura 5K Run/Walk celebrated its 5th anniversary on October 11, 2015. The event draws hundreds of supporters who enjoy the opportunity to give back to their friend and neighbor as he continues to pursue recovery with dedication. For Matt and his family, the event is far more than an opportunity to offset vital medical expenses; the run provides a powerful dose of emotional support that keeps him striving forward. “This is a chance for [us] to participate in a day that Matt refers to as the best day of the year,” his supporters wrote on his HelpHOPELive Campaign Page. Since the accident, funds raised from the Matt Collura 5K Run/Walk have helped Matt to pursue the rehabilitation he needs to speak, walk with minimal assistance and pursue a greater degree of independence by moving out of his parent’s house and into a group home. (5K supports Monroe man’s recovery from accident)

Patrice Penny-Henderson: ‘Angel’ Aids Music Teacher With Rare Disease

Patrice Penny-Henderson Elkhart kidney transplant

A rare blood cell disease severely reduced Patrice Penny-Henderson’s kidney function, forcing the elementary school music teacher to receive dialysis three times each week to stay healthy. Despite Medicare coverage, out-of-pocket costs of $20,000 or more made a kidney transplant seem out-of-reach for Patrice. That is, until a chance encounter blossomed into an unexpected lifeline.

In 2015, seven years after she was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, Patrice reconnected with a former co-worker, Susan Law, who was stunned to hear about her medical ailments. Susan sprang into action, connecting Patrice with HelpHOPELive and helping her to plan community fundraisers to cover her medical bills. Susan and Patrice “chose HelpHOPELive over other popular sites like GoFundMe” in order to secure a tax-exempt donation option for her contributors and expert insights from a HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator. Patrice calls Susan “an angel” for stepping in to support her efforts to secure a lifesaving transplant. (Longtime Elkhart music teacher…needs kidney transplant due to rare disease)

Michael Carns: Military Vet Puts Difficulties On Display To Fundraise For MS

Michael Carns veteran MS multiple sclerosis Marine National Guard

After dedicating himself to years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard, Michael Carns was attacked by an enemy of a different kind: multiple sclerosis (MS). The 46-year-old father of three began to rapidly losing his independence and his mobility, struggling to provide for his three children as daily tasks like cooking and using the bathroom became formidable obstacles.

That’s when Michael learned about a treatment trial in Chicago that offered hope for potentially halting the progression of his MS in its tracks. He would need to raise $150,000 to be eligible for the potentially life-changing course of treatment. Michael knew he had to do something to show his community why he needed their emotional and financial support. He reached out to a local news station and offered them a chance to film the impact of MS on his daily life.

In a video interview, Michael shows viewers what life with MS really looks and feels like, from painstakingly transporting himself to his son’s football games to coping with fears that he will not be there to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. For Michael and his children, fundraising with HelpHOPELive has come to represent a second chance – an opportunity for Michael to pursue advanced treatment that could give him back his independence. “Believe that there is hope, still, because there always will be,” affirmed his son Mikey. (Military veteran hoping for treatment to fight MS)

Get your campaign in the news! If you need help with press releases and media outreach, contact your HelpHOPELive Fundraising Coordinator today.


How A Marine and Father of Three Fights Multiple Sclerosis

Michael Carns is a Marine and National Guard member and a single father with three children. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013. He experienced rapid physical deterioration. Within two years, he has gone from independence to relying on a cane, a walker and finally a scooter to get around. Mike is fundraising for HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplantation), a course of treatment that is not covered by insurance. We spoke to Mike about the daily struggles, setbacks and victories that define his life with MS.

MS multiple sclerosis Michael Carns Mike Carns Marine National Guard

Mike is fundraising for treatment for multiple sclerosis.

How much did you know about MS before you were diagnosed?

I had never been personally affected by MS and neither had anyone in my family. Since my diagnosis, I’ve learned that parents of friends and some of my own friends growing up had or have MS. I share the information I find with them and they do the same for me. To defeat this disease, you need to fully understand it.

Where do you find MS information?

I typically find MS information online. I am a member of several different MS groups on social media, many that specifically relate to HSCT treatment for MS. I have been able to connect with doctors, researchers and others with MS through social media. We share a common enemy, so it makes sense for us to talk to each other about it.

Does MS disrupt your daily life?

My days are very limited. The first hurdle I face is memory: when I wake up, will I even remember what I need to get done that day? Most days, I get out of bed, watch TV, play games with my children, make meals for them and go back to bed. With MS, you learn how to manage your time carefully. I plan ONE thing to check off my list per day – anything else is a bonus. By the end of the day, even though I feel exhausted and worn out, I’ve exerted virtually no physical energy.

Has your diagnosis affected your family?

My youngest son wants to be a Navy SEAL. My daughter wants to work in the music industry, and she would love for me to walk her down the aisle. My eldest plays football and is going into high school this year. He wants to play for the NFL one day, of course, and join the Marines once he’s graduated from college. I used to coach him in football when he was younger, but today, I can’t get to his games without my scooter and I can’t stand the heat long enough to go and see him practice.

Michael Carns Mike Carns Mikey Carns

Mike with his girlfriend Kelly and son Mikey.

It’s disheartening. I want my kids to have the childhood that I got to have. I didn’t have to worry about Mom or Dad, but they have to spend their time thinking, ‘Is Dad okay? Do I need to do laundry or dishes for him?’ My kids understand that I have new limitations now. I want them to be able to be kids again. I feel like I’m taking time and life away from them as I’m battling this disease. I want to be there for my family again.

How has MS affected your financial situation?

The cost of potential treatment options emerged immediately as a barrier when I began researching. If the HSCT treatment is successful, the hope is that I won’t need more treatment in the future, so this is one big cost that needs to be overcome as quickly as possible. I spend a lot of my time each day trying to fundraise successfully so my father doesn’t have to give up his house to get me treatment. Even small bills can be difficult to keep up with as so other daily expenses add up. I’ve had to cut down my food bill and make other sacrifices to keep up with expenses.

Michael Carns marine uniform service veteran

Mike in uniform.

Will reaching your fundraising goal and pursuing treatment change your life?

I think a lot of stress will be taken off. We will all be able to live with what I can and can’t do definitively. I’d be able to return to work and be a part of society, making money instead of just receiving it to get by every month. I’ll be able to do simple things like answering phones and take care of household activities without pain or exhaustion.

Michael Carns Mike Carns Marine National Guard veteran

Mike served as a Marine and National Guard member.

It would be wonderful to experience my body healing itself. I want to be able to enjoy watching my kids grow up. Anyone who has or had MS knows that feeling – it’s awful to feel that loss of independence. I want to be able to be active and independent again. Even if I can stay where I am now, I can learn to live with it. I just hate feeling like things are getting worse.

Ideally I’d like to get back to coaching sports and go to school to choose a new career path. I’ve always wanted to be a chef, and there are so many other paths that attract me, including teaching. Right now, I can’t make plans for the future — there’s no roadmap with MS. As a society, our technology has come so far – we need to come up with a way to provide effective MS treatment to the people who need it. I don’t want to slow down or manage MS – I want to beat it.

What keeps you positive while you battle MS symptoms?

My perspective is that if it wasn’t me diagnosed, it would have been someone else. With everything I have gone through and done in my life, including fighting in three wars and living an active and adventurous life, I’m still here. Maybe I have this condition because someone else would not have been able to handle it or would have caused harm to themselves or their families because of it. That train of thought keeps me focused.

USMC United States Marine Corps Marines Michael Carns Mike Carns veteran MS multiple sclerosis

Mike served as a United States Marine.

Humor is important, too – you learn to laugh at yourself when you can’t button a button or you slide off the bed as you’re leaning on it for support. If you can’t laugh and continue to live your life, MS will get the best of you.

It’s amazing that it takes a diagnosis or a negative event like this to change your outlook. When you start to lose abilities and time, you look back and think, I took it all for granted. You become a lot more empathetic – now, when I see someone in a handicapped spot who doesn’t look disabled, I understand that their battle might be on the inside.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who was just diagnosed with MS?

Connect with other people who share this condition. Connect with me! Find reliable resources online. Start looking around, and if you have questions, ask them all. Make your own decisions about management and treatment based on the information you find. You are the best advocate you’ll ever have. Doctors, friends and family members can support you, but it’s important to take this process into your own hands. Reach out – don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or advice.

Visit https://helphopelive.org/campaign/6491 to follow his journey or donate to HelpHOPELive in his honor. HelpHOPELive does not endorse any specific treatment facilities or courses of treatment.