Tag Archives: video

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 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.”


“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.”


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!”


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.


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.


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.”

New Video: Fundraising Changed My Life After A Spinal Cord Injury

In 2007, Jeff Harris was enjoying July 4 on the beach with friends when the unthinkable happened. “We were kicking a soccer ball around on the beach and my buddy kicked the ball in the water,” explained Jeff. As he dove into the water, “I hit right around the top of my head at the right angle, at the right speed, at the right tilt of the universe.”

Jeff broke his neck and became a C6 quadriplegic.

After they dealt with the initial shock and emotional trauma of Jeff’s injury, his family quickly began to realize how expensive life with paralysis would be. “It’s almost hopeless to get insurance companies to provide what these spinal cord injury patients need to have a great life,” said Jeff’s mom, Jan.

Jeff was facing extreme out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays. “Wheelchairs cost tens of thousands of dollars,” said Jeff, and that’s not to mention “medical bills and daily supplies” he would need for the rest of his life. Fundraising with HelpHOPELive changed Jeff’s life. “HelpHOPELive was a life ring for us,” said Jeff’s dad, Steve. “They know what works and they are able to give advice to folks like us who have never done this sort of thing before.”

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With support from their community, Jeff and his family planned an annual fundraiser that incorporated curling, one of Jeff’s biggest passions before his injury. The Curl-a-thon in honor of Jeff will soon enter its tenth year. “For these two days when we hold the Curl-a-thon, I am so humbled,” said dad Steve. “Everyone in Jeff’s sphere was just looking for a way to help him.

We’re proud to present our newest HelpHOPELive video featuring Jeff’s fundraising story. Tell us what you think by Tweeting @HelpHOPELiveOrg!

Jeff Harris HelpHOPELive Curl-a-Thon

Fundraising has helped Jeff to pursue independence and mobility

Fall Transplant News: Conferences and Video Announcement!

We are proud to support candidates, recipients and their families as they navigate transplant financial concerns. Here are two exciting pieces of fall transplant news from the HelpHOPELive team.

‘Tis the season for fall conferences! HelpHOPELive leadership represented our organization at three important professional gatherings:

2015 Transplant Financial Coordinators Association Workshop

Location: St. Louis, Missouri


  • Understanding national Centers of Excellence requirements for transplantation
  • How Medicare coverage serves transplant needs
  • Panel discussion: top resources for transplant financial aid (with HelpHOPELive CEO David Bakelman)


David Bakelman at TFCA conference

Our CEO prepares to address transplant financial coordinators.

HelpHOPELive Co-Director of Fundraising and Patient Services Rebecca Carr.

Co-Director of Fundraising and Patient Services Rebecca Carr showcases HelpHOPELive resources.

29th Annual Society for Transplant Social Workers International Conference 

Location: Columbus, Ohio


  • A firsthand, start-to-finish look at a recipient’s kidney/pancreas transplant journey
  • The ethics of altruistic kidney donation and inmate organ donation
  • Discussion: how to fundraise effectively for a transplant (with HelpHOPELive CEO David Bakelman)


HelpHOPELive STSW Conference 2015

HelpHOPELive’s CEO David Bakelman (back left) and Co-Director of Fundraising and Patient Services Joni Henderson (back right), pose with the social workers who received scholarships from HelpHOPELive to attend  this year’s STSW conference.

HelpHOPELive Co-Director of Patient Services Joni Henderson.

HelpHOPELive Co-Director of Fundraising and Patient Services Joni Henderson offers information on our services.

HelpHOPELive CEO David Bakelman STSW

Our CEO on the STSW 2015 discussion panel.

21st Annual “The Practice of Transplant Administration” Workshop

Location: San Diego, California


  • Our first year engaging with professionals at this important gathering!
  • Modern tools for tracking and analyzing transplant data
  • Transplant financial management, including Medicare reimbursement and reducing overhead costs

Congrats to the winners of our conference raffles who won gift cards from HelpHOPELive: Teressa Lawrence, a financial coordinator at NYP-Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York); and Deborah G. Evans, a social worker at St. Vincent Hospital (Indiana).

New Transplant Video Announcement!

With the support of Philadelphia digital media agency Allied Pixel, HelpHOPELive will be releasing an incredible new video to help transplant families understand how our nonprofit can support their financial needs.

Sneak Preview:

We interviewed HelpHOPELive patient and heart transplant recipient Leslie Sorg along with her brother, son and sister to learn how fundraising impacted her journey. Here’s a quote from Leslie:

“This is not something you do alone. I was unaware how expensive [a] transplant would be. I was shocked. I was totally and completely resistant to fundraising. Then my social worker told me about HelpHOPELive. I couldn’t stand the idea of asking people for money…Honestly, it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. They money was so appreciated [and] my heart is a rock star because of it! There was an astronomical amount of community support and love, and all because I reached out. My family, my friends and my co-workers became the strength that I needed.”

Leslie Sorg transplant HelpHOPELive

Leslie spoke about the role HelpHOPELive played in her transplant preparations and recovery.

Leslie Sorg Allied Pixel transplant HelpHOPELive

Leslie makes her video debut.

Bill Haley and the Allied Pixel team transplant video for HelpHOPELive

Bill Haley and the Allied Pixel team.

HelpHOPELive transplant video Allied Pixel

Leslie’s sister, Michele, gets camera-ready.

You can find an additional behind-the-scenes video on our Instagram page.

The video will launch by 2016 – stay tuned!

Want transplant news in your inbox? Sign up for our e-newsletter and get fresh transplant fundraising news and tips each month!

Creating a Campaign Video: 3 Essential Steps

As you work with HelpHOPELive, you should constantly consider new ways to expand your outreach efforts and engage friends and family members with your fundraising efforts. You may already share pictures and recovery updates on your HelpHOPELive Campaign Page. Creating and sharing a video is a great way to get your friends involved with your journey on a more personal level.

Here are three things to consider when you create a video. For an excellent example, check out Rachelle Johnson’s powerful digital diary video, which lets viewers experience a month in her shoes.

HelpHOPELive video Rachelle CIPD YouTube

Rachelle’s video lets viewers experience a month in her shoes.


One: Look before you leap.

A video can be a powerful way to engage your community, but it isn’t the perfect fit for every campaign. Before you dive in, ask yourself these quick questions.

-Do I have reliable recording equipment, like a video camera or a smartphone with video capture?

-Do I know someone who would be willing to record this video for me? ‘Selfie’ videos are an option, but it can be challenging to produce a clear video if you don’t have prior experience in this area.

-Do I have a YouTube account so I can easily upload the video? If you have never used YouTube for video uploading, start with this beginner’s guide.

Selfie video YouTube campaign HelpHOPELive

Creating a ‘selfie’ video is an option, but it may be challenging for beginners.


Two: Brainstorm a powerful angle for your video.

Ask yourself what your friends and family would most like to see in a video that you create and upload. For the greatest impact, you should be using your video to engage members of your community, not solicit strangers.

Rachelle used her video to show her supporters what it felt like to live with CIPD for a month. She included personal testimony, insights from her caretakers and even visual aids to help viewers understand her personal battle with CIPD.

Here are a few other angles to consider:

-A video showcasing some of the items or equipment you have been or will be able to acquire through fundraising

-A video to thank Campaign Page visitors for their support and donations

-A video identifying a few of the most challenging hurdles you face in your recovery

-A video chronicling some of your rehabilitation efforts, like this video from HelpHOPELive client Carina Ho

Carina Ho SCIFIT Ekso HelpHOPELive YouTube campaign video

Carina Ho shows viewers her rehabilitation progress in her campaign video.


Three: Pay attention to detail.

A powerful video can help viewers feel more closely connected to you and your HelpHOPELive campaign. Make sure you consider these details so you can inspire viewers to donate to your campaign:

Where can I film this video? You should be sure to film in an area that will keep the focus on you and your story instead of distracting viewers with background movement.

-How can I keep the room quiet? You will need to film in a place with minimal outside noise so that viewers can hear you clearly.

-Do I want to use any props? If you plan to use props in your video or display specific equipment, be sure to practice with these resources ahead of time so your video is smooth.

-Do I know what I want to say? There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous, but you may want to jot down or rehearse a few key talking points before you start filming to make sure you get your point across. The shorter your video, the greater the chance that your friends will take the time to watch it, so stick to your key message throughout.

Always ensure that you end your video with a clear call to action for viewers. Remind potential donors that you can’t overcome your illness or injury alone, and you need their help to improve your circumstances.

Be sure to mention your HelpHOPELive Campaign Page as the place where viewers can donate to your campaign. Remind potential donors how grateful you are for the support you’ve received so far.

HelpHOPELive video YouTube campaign

A video full of noise and distractions will leave viewers feeling confused.


Add your video to your HelpHOPELive Campaign Page!

Once you’ve created your video, simply copy and paste the link into the Add a New Update section of your page. Add additional update text if you want to tell visitors more about the video’s contents, then click Save.


Add the video as an update…

Keep in mind that only your three most recent updates will be displayed at a time. If you would like your video to display on your page permanently, find the About [Your Name] section of your page and click the green pencil icon. Paste the link into that section and click Save.

video 2

…or add it to the About section of your page.

Don’t forget to share the video with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you need any help uploading your video, just contact HelpHOPELive and ask for our Communications Department. We will be happy to help!