Friday night was the first Save One Life celebration in our seven years of operating. Save One Life is a nonprofit organization I founded in 2000 after visiting families with hemophilia in developing countries, and seeing their desperate needs. The program provides direct sponsorships for people with hemophilia who live in poverty. We celebrated a turning point: we finally have operational funds that will allow us to expand our work, and we’re sponsoring over 240 children in eight countries.
The event was a social evening, held in Ipswich, Massachusetts, at New England BioLabs’ spacious auditorium and entryway. Joining us Friday night were sponsors, donors, volunteers and guests who are interested in learning more about hemophilia and the developing world. After a social hour with cocktails, attendees were seated in the auditorium, where I presented a 30 minute multimedia presentation on my travels to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central America. The slides were graphic and moved many to gasps. I think we made our point; that children with hemophilia were in need of help now, help that we could provide. Following the slide show we distributed pledge cards, and amazingly, we raised $9,000 in minutes! One-third of the money will be used to fund hemophilia camp in the Dominican Republic; the rest will go to sponsor children currently waiting for sponsorship, and the rest will go to operations.
Our special guest speaker was Fendi Valdez Bisono, a young man with hemophilia from the Dominican Republic and our liaison there. He spoke through an interpreter. I’ve known Fendi for 9 years, and watched him flourish as he’s received factor, education and training. He hopes to make a difference in the lives of the children he knows, and to be a mentor to them. He told our audience of what it was like to grow up without factor, and how it has left him with arthritic joints and hepatitis C. But nothing slows him down. He managed to get a college degree, married and is self-supporting. He donates a great amount of time to FAHEM, the national DR hemophilia organization. He owes everything to “God, family and FAHEM,” in that order. His words were stirring.
The rest of the evening included awards to special donors, sponsors and volunteers, and then coffee and pastries. The pledges made attendees eligible for prizes, including free round trip airplane tickets, three nights at a resort in the DR, and two nights at a local posh historical hotel. Thanks to everyone who made this evening a resounding success, a memorable event and a stepping stone to better health care for hemophilic patients in great need of financial aid.
To learn more about Save One Life, visit www.SaveOneLife.net
(Photos: Laurie Kelley and graphic designer Tracy Brody, who created the Vision and Mission Poster; Fendi Valdez Bisono with board member Mark Zatyrka and fiancee Sasha Fles)