DALLAS — The Dallas Foundation recently awarded $1.5 million in grants to 45 different nonprofits in North Texas, including an organization that supports families with children who have cancer and/or other life-threatening medical conditions.
HopeKids North Texas hosts weekly events across the DFW Metroplex to give those kids and their families an opportunity to have fun with people in similar situations.
“It’s important to connect these families, to give them that community with people who do understand,” said Bridget Asheim, the executive director of HopeKids. “I can’t promise to fix it—if I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to say there’s never a sick child—but we can promise to come alongside you, to give you strength.”
From sports games to private movie screenings, being a part of HopeKids not only brought the Rex family joy, but it made them feel less alone.
“We’d seen other kids in the hospital, but to see them out and about and enjoying life, it was pretty cool,” said Darryn Rex. His daughter, 10-year-old Brooklyn, has been fighting a rare and potentially fatal inflammatory condition since before she can remember.
“The equivalent of HLH and SJRA is something called Macrophage Activation Syndrome,” Rex said. “So that’s a more accurate diagnosis for her…it’s life-threatening. It’s put us in the ICU I can’t even tell you how many times. We’ve nearly lost her a few of those times.”
There is no cure for Brooklyn, and life for the Rex family mostly revolves around her illness.
“I don’t like going to the doctor, but sometimes I just have to go with it,” she shared. “Sometimes I might get pricks, have shots or needles. It’s painful, but I’m so used to it now that I’m like, ‘I’m fine.'”
Her parents have had to move to different cities and give up their jobs to help navigate Brooklyn’s ongoing treatments.
It’s been an isolating journey, but HopeKids has given them all a sense of community.
“Just seeing kids my age, I’ll understand what they’ve been through, and they’ll probably understand what I’ve been through as well,” Brookyln said.
The nonprofit currently serves more than a thousand families in North Texas.
“It’s an overwhelming number,” Asheim said. “But it also makes me happy that those families have found HopeKids.”
Last year, the organization hosted 471 in-person and over 100 virtual events for kids battling life-threatening conditions, as well as their siblings and their parents.
“They don’t have to figure out the details of what they’re going to do on the weekend when there’s hospital bills in their mailbox,” Asheim said. “They can still do something fun with their family because of HopeKids.”
The work HopeKids does wouldn’t be possible without an army of volunteers, event partners, and generous supporters like The Dallas Foundation.
“Since our inception in 1929, we’ve given out over a billion dollars to a wide spectrum of organizations and causes to make greater Dallas a better place,” said Drexell Owusu, the chief impact officer at The Dallas Foundation. “We want to elicit direct change and endorse great work happening in our community.”
Historically, the funds have covered a range of issues, including the arts, critical needs, children and families, and animal welfare.
You can find a full list of the other recipients of The Dallas Foundation’s 2023 Field of Interest grants here.
Asheim says this year’s grant will help them grow their program and be more creative with the events they host—all to inspire families to keep fighting forward as they deal with the unimaginable.
“To see that you can do this,” Rex said. “You can go out and enjoy yourself and have fun.”
Source : CBS News