Emily Progin, PR & Social Media Coordinator
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INTERVIEW LEADS TO $20,000 IN DONATIONS TO AID INJURED PHILLY TEEN
PHILADELPHIA—An August 15 interview revealed the challenges faced by upbeat and spirited Philly 15-year-old Keather Littlejohn in the two years following her life-changing spinal cord injury. Just days after the coverage went live, the nonprofit Help Hope Live received $20,000 in donations in honor of Keather at helphopelive.org—and she will now be able to afford a wheelchair lift.
After an August 2016 accident left her with paralysis from the waist down, Keather stayed positive and steadfast, qualities that helped her maintain her excitement for the future. She and her family would have to overcome physical barriers to keep Keather moving forward, including an inaccessible Philadelphia row home that confined her to the first floor in her wheelchair.
A lift came to represent the ultimate in mobility and independence for the Littlejohn family—particularly for Keather, whose active life pre-injury included involvement in a STEM program, Girl Scouts, traveling to Greece and Italy with her school, and playing the saxophone and cello, not to mention teen girl staples like going to the movies and mall with her friends.
Fundraising with Help Hope Live unlocked a way for Keather’s family to finally put their mobility goals within reach with help from their supportive community. On August 20, Help Hope Live executive director Kelly L. Green gathered the nonprofit’s staff and asked Keather and her family to call their conference line. She delivered incredible news: following the interview, two individuals anonymously made $10,000 donations to Help Hope Live in honor of Keather, smashing the Littlejohn family’s $10,000 initial fundraising goal for a wheelchair lift. Keather and her family responded with gasps and cheers; Help Hope Live staff members were visibly moved with tears in their eyes.
Local unions are joining forces to bring the lift to life. As Joe Williams of the International Union of Elevators Construction Local 5 (IUEC5) explained, “We’re working with different building trade unions to make this happen, including the cement mason union and the brick layers union, to dig out the front yard and build a retaining wall. IUEC5 will install the wheelchair lift itself. It’ll be like a miniature elevator. Her family can keep her right on her wheelchair and use the lift to get her down to the sidewalk.”
Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in 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 $131 million to pay patient expenses.
Local 5 has been involved in the installation of more than 60 lifts in 2018 through the union’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit A Lift For A Vet. The organization’s mission is to give veterans of any war the ability to stay in their homes and remain independent when they cannot navigate stairwells. To donate, make checks out to A Lift For A Vet at 12273 Townsend Road, Philadelphia, PA, 19154. ###Written by Emily Progin