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For Paralyzed “Cookie Lady”, Hope Is Funded by Community Generosity

Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator / 800.642.8399


Fundraising is Critical to 76-Year-Old Mary Zagar’s Mobility and Health

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio—Mary Zagar is facing far greater health challenges than the average 76-year-old. Dealt one health blow after another, Mary is recovering from paralysis and is determined to regain as much mobility and independence as she can. Her community is rallying to ensure Mary has the financial help she needs to make that brighter future possible.

Mary is known locally as the “cookie lady” of Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, a job she held for 32 years. She is a domestic abuse survivor and a dedicated mother. Her medical challenges started in 2015 when Mary a MRSA infection during a hysterectomy. The infection spread through her spinal cord. Three interventional surgeries left Mary with a new concern: paralysis from the waist down with no feeling or movement in her lower body.

While facing her new life as a paraplegic, Mary got COVID-19 in 2021 and survived a life-threatening pressure ulcer and septic shock. Doctors called her recovery miraculous. During that recovery journey, Mary’s devoted daughter and caretaker, Patty, noticed something incredible: Mary was able to bear weight on her lower body and even stand with assistance.

The breakthrough meant new possibilities for Mary’s paralysis recovery and her future mobility and independence. Today, Mary is up to 40 seconds of standing. But there’s a problem: insurance has refused to cover the costs associated with Mary’s ongoing recovery, including intensive physical therapy and home rehabilitation equipment. Mary and Patty are on the hook for out-of-pocket costs exceeding $20,000 to maintain her mobility gains and her health.

That’s why they’ve turned to the national nonprofit Help Hope Live to start a medically verified fundraising campaign. Donations can be made online at:

“Support from this community is keeping her motivated,” explained Patty. “We know all her gains are a true miracle from her hard work. We want her to regain as much function as possible—so many doctors have given up on her, but not us.”

Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be managed by the nonprofit to cover verified medical and related expenses. Help Hope Live verifies medical and financial need for every patient.

Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $165 million to pay patient expenses. ###

Written by Emily Progin