Jan 31, 2012 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Last year at this time, Tracy Licamele’s life was turned upside down.
Her son, Connor, was diagnosed with Wilms’s Tumor at 4 years old, and was hospitalized for 11 days after having a tumor and his left kidney removed. He immediately began chemotherapy.
While this was a devastating time for Licamele and her family, she was able to find comfort thanks to Maureen’s Hope Foundation, a Baldwinsville based organization that offers support and assistance to people facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and other life altering disease.
“It was during our darkest days that Maureen’s Hope entered our life,” Licamele said, adding the family was connected through the Maureen’s Hope program, Beads of Courage, offered at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “This alone makes these children smile and have something to focus on besides being sick.”
While Connor has been off treatment for eight months, the family still receives support from the organization, which has provided more than 840 personalized baskets to patients offering comfort and inspiration. Kristie Relyea’s family was also a recipient of Maureen’s Hope basket.
“I am completely humbled by the thoughtfulness, generosity and tremendous outreaching of support we have received from Maureen’s Hope,” said Relyea, whose son, William, has been battling neuroblastoma since he was 6 months old.
William was admitted to Golisano Children’s Hospital a week before Christmas and, just as Relyea was near her breaking point, Maureen’s Hope helped provide comfort.
“[Maureen’s Hope gave] us a ray of hope and a much needed reminder that little miracles do happen,” she said. “My older son, Nicholas, came to the hospital for a visit and we so enjoyed the most wonderful time looking through all the treasures in the basket. It was as if [Maureen’s Hope] knew our family so well and each item was especially chosen for us.”
Susan Bertrand, founder of Maureen’s Hope, empathizes with families whose loved ones are facing a cancer diagnosis. Her sister, Maureen, the organization’s namesake, succumbed to cancer in 2003 after a long, tough battle.
“We all go through experiences in life that leave us a changed person,” Bertrand said. “I don’t think I had ever truly understood how essential it is to live your life with hope until I watched my younger sister Maureen during her two-year battle with cancer. Hope kept her dreams alive and nourished her spirit. I always say that our vision of hope is not just about achieving a desired outcome, it’s about the journey and we try to make that journey a little easier.”
In addition to comfort and support, Maureen’s Hope also provides cleaning services for the homes of patients, meals for patients’ families, wigs for those who have lost their hair as well as assistance with medical expenses.
“Everyone’s needs are different and we cater to those personal needs,” Bertrand said, adding Maureen’s Hope also provides 60 spring baskets at Easter to children at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
For the second year in a row, Maureen’s Hope Foundation has been chosen as one of 15 charities to benefit from the Syracuse Auto Dealers Association Charity Preview, which will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the OnCenter. The event features an evening of food, drink and live entertainment as well as a private viewing of the finest new cars and trucks on display in three giant showrooms.
“There is something for everyone to enjoy,” Bertrand said of the event. “Most importantly, 100 percent of the proceeds from the ticket sales and sponsorhips go to the charity of your choice. This is made possible by the corporate underwriting SADA receives for the event.”
Last year, Maureen’s Hope was the second leading charity in donations raising just over $28,000. Support from SADA and the community has allowed Maureen’s Hope to share the gift of hope with more than 100 families in 2011 and “we will continue our journey in the New Year,” Bertrand said.
To purchase a ticket ($125) for the event, call Bertrand at 243-6918 or email her at email@example.com. For more information about the event, visit syracusesautodealers.com.
“The foundation stands by families in every aspect, the good and the bad,” Licamele said. “It isn’t all the gifts that mean so much but the words of encouragement and inspiration – these are the things that mean everything to me. I truly thank you, Maureen’s Hope, for all you have done for us, and for what you do every day for others.”
For more information about Maureen’s Hope, visit maureenshope.org.