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Bridging Past and Present at Our 6th Annual Live It Up! Gala

On Friday, October 26, 250 friends, supporters, neighbors, and community heroes came together in Bryn Mawr, PA to celebrate Help Hope Live’s 35th anniversary at our 6th annual Live It Up! gala. Here’s what they experienced.

Reflecting on Our Legacy

Help Hope Live was established in 1983 by a Philadelphia transplant surgeon and his wife, a nurse. That first year, our organization raised $300,000 through grassroots fundraising efforts to help local-area heart transplant candidates cover the massive cost of a procedure then considered experimental. Since then, Help Hope Live has raised more than $135 million to cover out-of-pocket costs, serving as a safety net for thousands of families nationwide who have unmet medical and related expenses due to cell and organ transplants or catastrophic injuries and illnesses.

At Live It Up!, we had the opportunity to revel in our nonprofit’s rich legacy and celebrate the people who have made it all possible. Guests included our founders Dr. Jack and Patricia Kolff, our executive director Kelly L Green, who holds a powerful personal connection to Help Hope Live, plus present and former staff and board members.

35, and Many More

Many of the gala’s guests and honorees this year were celebrating significant milestones of their own.

Debbie Gordon, MSS LCSW CCTSW, received our Help Award for excellence in social work as she celebrated 20 years as a transplant social worker at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Debbie’s dedication to her profession inspires and empowers her co-workers and directly impacts transplant patients and families.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) advocate and double-lung transplant recipient Jerry Cahill received our Hope Award for organ donor awareness and his work with the Boomer Esiason Foundation. Jerry celebrated his 62nd birthday this year; the average lifespan for people living with CF is 37 years. Jerry’s resounding motto, which he deploys to uplift fellow chronic illness warriors, is You Cannot Fail.

Will Reeve, son of the late“Superman” Christopher Reeve and the “pioneer of caregiving” Dana Reeve, received our Live Award for continuing his parents’ legacy of hope through his work with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. October marked 14 years since his father passed away from spinal cord injury complications. His game-changing work with the Reeve Foundation includes helping to disburse Quality of Life Grants to organizations like Help Hope Live that are devoted to supporting “today’s care and tomorrow’s cure” for SCI families.

This year, we presented the first-ever Rainey Award, named in memory of longtime Help Hope Live supporters Nancy and Arthur H Rainey. Nancy and Art’s son, Doug Rainey, presented the inaugural award to the dedicated volunteers behind the KSF Lacrosse Festival. The Festival just completed its 18th year and has raised over $1.9 million to benefit SCI patient care, research, and quality of life programs.

A Network of Hope

This year’s event connected us closely to the partners and supporters who fuel our ability to connect with families in need across the country. Presented by longtime corporate supporter Glenmede, our 6th annual gala was also made possible by:

  • Our partners at Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center, helping to support the needs of transplant patients who often rely on us for compassionate fundraising support;
  • The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, an organization wholly devoted, like Help Hope Live, to improving the lives and futures of SCI individuals and caregivers;
  • The Boomer Esiason Foundation, dedicated to meeting the needs of CF families as we help CF patients fiscally prepare for the transplants so often in their future;
  • The Katie Samson Foundation, named for Help Hope Live’s inaugural catastrophic injury client, dedicated to supporting charities like Help Hope Live who provide the means for people impacted by SCI to restore their independence and quality of life.
  • Multiple other generous sponsors.

A Tangible Impact

In addition to celebration, commemoration, and connection, our annual Live It Up! gala had another major goal: to rally our supporters to raise funds for Help Hope Live so we can continue empowering families to fundraise to help cover the cost of the medical care they need to heal, live, and thrive. In addition to purchasing tickets to attend and participating in our silent auction, guests were askedto donate $35 during our awards program—one dollar for every year we’ve spent helping families afford the care they need, and the basis of our #35for35 campaign for #GivingTuesday 2018.

Our generous community did not disappoint.

We met and exceeded our $3,500 fundraising goal during the event, lending guests a joyful moment in which to personally testify to the immense power of compassion and community support.

Keep It Up!

Keep celebrating the power of hope with us! See more Live It Up! event photos by searching for #liveitup18 on social (and don’t forget to tag and share your own pics!). If you missed this year’s festivities and want to be part of our next local gathering, email us so we can add you to our email list. Our Events page showcases upcoming opportunities to give and connect, from gaming marathons to Crab Fests to dragon boat races.

Photo credits: Kate Clarke, Bill Soloway, and Mike Hill (@mikeallenhill).

Written by Emily Progin