Save One Life Gala

Grand Evening for a Gala

It was a chilly and moist evening in
New York City on September 29, perfect for a fall kick-off and a good reason to
warm up with friends, colleagues and a celebrity to honor 15 years of Save One
Save One Life was founded in 2001, but
my idea to start a nonprofit to help the world’s children with hemophilia who
live in poverty had been kicking around for at least two years. We are now up
to over 1,500 served over 15 years, and we have great plans to expand our help even further.
It was fitting to hold our celebration
in New York; to give credit where it is due, it was a New York mother of a
child with hemophilia, Lisa O’Connor, who wrote to me back in 1999, on a piece
of yellow-lined paper (yes, people did that at one time!) to suggest we start a
Save the Children-like program. I loved the idea, and the letter coincided with
a trip to Pakistan, in which I sat in the home of an extremely poor family:
two rooms, no kitchen, no plumbing, no electricity, two small children with
hemophilia. The father simply wanted extra money each month to send his son to
a good school, where he would be protected, and learn English, to get a good
job. Then he could buy factor. The cost? $20 a month, he told me. The idea
became a plan.
This evening, so many of our sponsors
and colleagues came out to share our 15 years. I saw so many long term
community friends, some going back 20 years!
Cyclist Barry Haarde

Held at the Manhattan Penthouse, high
above the bustling city below, we gathered to have a lovely dinner, distribute
awards and honor our volunteers and supporters, and to welcome two very special

First, no surprise, we honored yet
again the amazing Barry Haarde, for his fifth cross-country cycling odyssey to
raise funds for Save One Life. The 2016 journey took two months this time, and
saw Barry traverse the US from west coast to east coast, and then from north to
south! I managed to hop off Kilimanjaro in time to fly to Key West, the most
southern point in the US, to welcome Barry on Route 1, mile 0. Barry takes it
all in stride, but his efforts are Herculean. He has raised awareness as well
as over $200,000 for Save One Life over his five trips, and sponsors a child
with hemophilia from India.
Laurie Kelley, Usha Parthasarathy, Martha Hopewell

Usha Parthasarathy received our
Inspiration Award. Usha is a dear friend and also volunteer and expert advisor
on hemophilia in India since Save One Life’s formation in 2001. Usha helped
Save One Life to organize and launch its sponsorship program in India. In 2009
Usha joined Save One Life as India program coordinator, assisting with growing
and managing our largest country, with 25 program partners and more than 830
current and graduated beneficiaries. She works tirelessly in a completely
volunteer role. Usha lost both her father to an intracranial bleed and her baby
within two years. She left a career as a national newscaster in India to devote
her life to helping those with hemophilia, and became development vice
president for the Hemophilia Federation (India). Her second son, Sudharsan, born
in 1981, is now a post doctoral researcher in the hematology division of
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Not present, but honored, was board
member, friend and fellow-mountain climber Eric Hill, COO of Diplomat, who
sponsors 31 children, and has organized our mountain climbs to raise awareness
and money for Save One Life. His efforts have raised over $150,000 for save One
Life and Eric recently has made the first donation to our endowment fund.
Miahi of Romania

After dinner, we were entertained by
Mihai, a lovely young man with hemophilia from Romania. He and his mother flew
all that way to attend, as our guests. Handsome, slight of build and tall, he
was introduced by my long-time friend and mentor Adriana Henderson of North
Carolina (Romanian by birth) who has devoted her life to helping the poor and
suffering in Romania with hemophilia. She explained how Mihai excelled at
playing the piano, despite the limited resources of his family, and frequent
bleeds in his hands. Mihai played several beautiful classical pieces, and
ended with Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, one of my favorites.

Best of all, Mihai’s sponsor, Reid Coleman of North Carolina, attended and was able to meet his beneficiary of many years!

The final presentation of the evening
belonged to Tony Fernández,
former shortstop for the Toronto Bluejays, and for one year, the New York
Yankees. Tony has been a long time friend to the
hemophilia community in the Dominican Republic. His Toronto Bluejays teammate
and best friend, Damaso García, has a son with hemophilia. When Damaso’s wife
Haydée De García Benoit, founder and president of Fundación
Apoyo Al Hemofílico (FAHEM), the DR’s national
hemophilia organization, asked Tony to attend their first camp in 1999, Tony
gladly said yes. The children were thrilled to have a national hero spend the
day playing baseball with them. He has since attended three camps, now called
Yo sí Puedo! (Yes I Can!) and one of the best hemophilia camps in the world!
FAHEM has since become a Save One Life
program partner.
Tony has had a distinguished Major
League Baseball career, starting in September 1983. He signed on to six teams,
setting a nine-year record for shortstops. He was awarded four consecutive Gold
Glove Awards, from 1986 to 1989, and was also named to five All-Star teams. Today
Tony is an ordained minister and founder of the Tony Fernández Foundation,
which works with underprivileged and troubled children by nurturing and developing
them through counseling, education, training, and physical and spiritual
Tony shared how Damaso Jr. felt
defeated early in life; his father was a star player, but he could not even
play baseball. Tony counseled him and encouraged him to find some other way to
participate other than actually playing. The encouragement took hold. Today
Damaso is a national sportscaster for the Dominican Republic and the entire
nation tunes in to him at 5 pm daily.

Tony reminded the audience that to give is to receive, and that the world needs
our help in these troubled times. He urged everyone to pick up the envelop in
front of them, and to give. His authority, his devotion to children, made an
impact. We raised over $4,500 right after his speech, with 19 more children
pledge for sponsorship.

Tony Fernández

The next day our team met at KYNE
offices, with David Kyne, president and founder, and Save One Life board
member, for a seven hour strategy meeting. The next 15 years will see tremendous
growth of Save One Life, and many more children reached, and lives changed.
we stay the course, the unthinkable might happen, yes, together we can bring
hope to the hopeless, just be faithful to the vision given to you by God and
He will find a way to bring it to pass.”
Tony Fernández, major league
ballplayer, minister, founder of The Tony Fernández Foundation
Thanks to Save One Life staff Martha Hopewell and Tricia Sico for organizing the event; and to our sponsors and donors, and all attendees. Please see for more information or to sponsor a child with a bleeding disorder in a developing country.


Celebrating Life at NHF

With my heroes Vaughn Ripley and
Barry Haarde

The beautiful speech given at NHF by chair Jorge de la Riva stressed caring, and the dangers of indifference. Jorge, the father of a teen with hemophilia, deftly drummed home by a quotation from Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, whose book Night, I just reread a few weeks ago:


“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel

How appropriate to use Weisel to remind our community that if we do not watchdog our own interests, we may be hurt–again. And this is why the theme of this year’s meeting was “Nothing about us, without us.” More and more, NHF (and HFA and other groups) are steering the interests of the community, from research, to data collection, to blood supply safety, to genotyping. We’ve come a long way in 20 years, and paid a hard price.
Derek Nelson and Chris Bombardier

Val Bias, CEO of NHF and person with hemophilia, gave a speech on the many and exemplary accomplishments of not only the NHF but of various groups and individuals in our community. During the videos shown, I thought instead of two people who have done extraordinary, history-making things in our community, just this year—Chris Bombardier, the first person with hemophilia in the world to conquer four of the seven summits. And Barry Haarde, who has now ridden his bike three times across America, to bring attention to the public of hemophilia and HIV. It’s nice that we showcased who we did, but Chris and Barry volunteered weeks of their lives to do something no one else has ever done, which are extraordinary feats even without hemophilia!

We did acknowledge them, at the Save One Life Celebration on September 17 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC, just before NHF kicked off. It was a lovely event, with about 77 attendees, including donors and sponsors. We honored special people who have helped make Save One Life a success so far:

 Over 1,300 people with hemophilia in 12 countries who live in poverty supported directly with financial aid 80 scholarships to foreign individuals since 2012 8 micro enterprise grants in 2014
Over $1.5 million in direct aid!
Laurie with friend and colleague Val Bias, CEO of NHF

All this goes to people who live on the fringe of life, the poor, the suffering, in places like India, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Honduras. And we honored Chris and Barry who have raised so much money for us. And our Inspiration Award went to Mark Skinner, former NHF president, WFH president and current WFH USA president (and personal friend) who has inspried me for many years with his brilliant insights, his compassion for the poor and his endless volunteerism. Accepting the award for him was Mike Rosenthal, executive director of WFH USA. We were surprised and pleased to see Doug Loock in attendance, who, back when he worked for the American Red Cross in 2000, gave us our first grant, and was the first supporter to help us!


Thanks to NHF for allowing us to hold the even at their event (thanks, Val!); and to ASD Healthcare (thank you, Neil  Herson!) for being our major supporter of the event. Also thanks to Baxter, Novo Nordisk and CVS Health for supporting the event.

Best news of all? We picked up 30 more sponsored children as a result! 
If you want to learn more or support a child, please visit


Laurie with Neil Herson, president of ASD Healthcare, accepting award for Chris Bombardier
Usha Parasarathy accepting award for Program Partner of Year

Great Book I Just Read
Blood Meridian [Kindle]
Cormac McCarthy

The author of No Country for Old Men does it again. This is a masterpiece, an American classic, written with such skill and depth that you cannot skim, cannot rush; it has to be savored, thought about, explored. The main character, a young man only referred to as “the kid,” runs away from home in the south and heads west in the 1800s. He meets many groups and characters, but ultimately joins a scalping posse, intent on capturing as many Indian scalps to sell as possible.  Like many of McCarthy’s stories, the theme is bleak, desperate, dusty and desolate, like the land the kid crosses. The main theme seems to be that evil lurks everywhere: there are no good guys or bad guys in the Wild West: just survival. And every single person, whether Indian, white, male or female, harbors evil deep within in the quest for survival. It’s a somber read, but the writing style alone is like a delicate fabric of words, woven so that you see no seams, only a beautiful, dark, and captivating cloth; worth reading if you want to read something by a master. Five our of five stars.

Celebrating Heroes Among Us

Laurie Kelley opens gala

Save One Life celebrated its third annual spring Gala at an elegant, waterfront venue, The Exchange, located at Boston’s historic Fish Pier. Enjoying the balcony overlooking the ocean, or the expansive interior, about 120 guests from across the country dined on hors d’oeuvres and mingled. Guests represented the hemophilia community in full range, from pharmaceutical companies, to specialty pharmacies, from patients to families.

Neil Herson receives recognition from Martha Hopewell

I opened the evening at 7 pm welcoming our guests. I like to use very current events to weave into my talks, and found a metaphor to use in my opening: while getting ready for the gala, I dropped something on the floor. When I bent down, I happened to look under my bedroom bureau and amidst the dust bunnies, I found a shoe that had been missing for some time. It made me think that sometimes we have to go into the dark places, the not-so-glamorous places, even the dirty places where we’d rather not go to find the things we are missing or have lost. In our affluent society (and most of us are affluent compared to those we serve), we slowly and subtly can lose our compassion, tolerance, mission, and unconditional giving.

A slide show of the many faces of children and young adults from developing countries helped by Save One Life played in the background during the three hour gala, showing some of those unglamorous places–megaslums, rural villages, hamlets, townships. It also showed the faces of suffering.

Usha accepts award

We thanked our sponsors of the event, donors, and presented Donor of the Year award to Rich Gaton and his company, BDI Pharma, who sponsor 17 children. Special recognition was given to Patrick Schmidt, CEO of FFF Enterprises (88 children), Wolfgang Marguerre, chairman of Octapharma (70 children), and Neil Herson, president of ASD Healthcare (50 children). Only Neil was present from Texas that night.

We had special guests present: Usha Parthasarathy and her husband from India. Usha is our volunteer liaison, and we simply would not have an Indian program without her. We have over 500 beneficiaries just in India and Usha maintains updates on them all! She received a surprise award for her dedication. And she accepted Program Partner of the Year award on behalf of the Kunnamkulam Chapter in India.

A special award was also given to Barry Haarde, a 47-year-old Texan with hemophilia and HIV who had just concluded his second Ride Across America that afternoon, at 3 pm in Salisbury, Massachusetts! Such dedication! Barry averaged over 100 miles a day to raise $35,000 for Save One Life. Barry also dedicated each day of his ride to someone who passed away from hemophilia and HIV, and posted their photos on Facebook. Remarkable thoughtfulness!

Our Inspiration Award went to board member Chris Bombardier, a 27-year-old who has summit both Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua, highest peaks on their continents, becoming the first American with hemophilia on Kili, and the first person with hemophilia ever to summit Aconcagua. We were blessed to have both men in our midst Thursday night.

Laurie with local patients Justin Levesque and Mark Zatyrka of AHF

Thanks to everyone who attended this wonderful event! We raised money to help support our great team. Without them, we could not operate or progress; with them, we have progressed so far!

We have more children waiting for sponsorship. Please visit to learn more! (More gala pics to come!)

Interesting Book I am Reading
All That You Can’t Leave Behind: A Rookie Missionary’s Life in Africa by Ryan Murphy

This might be a good first book for someone
contemplating becoming a missionary in Africa. It’s an interesting first look at the culture shock one can experience. It’s also interesting what drove Ryan and his wife and new baby to ell everything they owned, beg for survival funds, and leave to a difficult place to teach the schoolchildren of other missionaries. For the experienced, this book is much too fluffy, superficial and lacking in depth, history. It’s told in a rambling, blog-style or journal-style, which might appeal to the younger generation. Not bad, but not meaty or deep; it’s a quick read, too. Two/five stars.

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