Imagine a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury. In the midst of shock and uncertainty about the future you are told that care and treatment will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who can you turn to?
Help Hope Live, the national organization that helps with fundraising for people who have had a transplant or catastrophic injury, started 29 years ago in Radnor.
At the time Jack Kolff was a Temple University transplant doctor and wife Patricia, a nurse, started the organization to help people pay for heart transplants, which at the time were “experimental” and not covered by medical insurance.
Transplants and catastrophic injuries are lifelong journeys that require enormous medical expenses, said Help Hope Live executive director Lynne Samson. An experimental stem cell transplant can cost $80,000; it can cost $60,000 to purchase and outfit a van for a paralyzed person, for example.
People depend on neighbors, family and friends to step in and fill the gap between what medical insurance covers and what is needed.
That’s where Help Hope Live comes in. The organization provides fundraising guidance, fiscal accountability and tax deductibility for donors. It also pays the bills directly from donor funds. Help Hope Live has paid out $80 million over nearly 30 years.
“It’s the quintessential American model of neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends overcome obstacles,” Samson said.
Years before Samson worked for the organization, she became all too familiar with it. In 2000, Samson’s stepdaughter Katie was paralyzed from a sledding accident at The Willows. Katie was the organization’s first catastrophic injury campaign, and her Katie Samson Lacrosse Tournament has become a popular annual event.
Help Hope Live is also helping the family of Logan Schweiter, whose father Martin is a member of the organization’s board. Logan and Katie’s campaigns have been exceptionally large, Samson said, because both have a large and supportive network of people.
The organization teaches those networks of people how to run fundraisers from designing the invitations and soliciting items for an auction to doing a program book and getting sponsors.
“It’s the public coming together to do something to benefit one of their own,” Samson said. “I get to see the best of Americans. People come out to support those they love.”