Organizations: Brain Tumor Foundation For Children
When Rick and Sheila Sauers’ five-month-old daughter, Shaye, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, they discovered in their frantic research that little information was available on that painful subject. So they established a support group for parents that, in 1983, grew into the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children (BTFC), the first nonprofit in the country to focus specifically on pediatric brain tumor disease.
“We donate some money to research, but our main priority is making an immediate difference in the lives of these families,” says Mary Moore, executive director of the Atlanta-based organization, which focuses primarily in Georgia but also helps parents regionally in eight states with information, social support and financial assistance
The group’s largest program, the “Butterfly Fund,” provides families with emergency funds to pay rent, utilities and other expenses that crop up.
“If you’re coping with this issue, you should be able to focus on your child and not have to worry about getting evicted or paying for the gasoline for all of those trips to the hospital,” Moore says. “Often a parent has to give up his or her job in these situations to tend to the child.”
Last year, the foundation disbursed $360,000 to more than 300 families.
“We try to make an impact during the worst time in a family’s life because during those emotional times, any gesture, even a small one, means a lot,” Moore says.
The BTFC also organizes social mixers for parents away from the fluorescent glow of hospitals.
“It can be important to take a break from that setting during those times,” Moore says, “and to be with other people who know what you’re going through.”