AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A fundraising event was held in Austintown Saturday to raise money for a program to help families who are caring for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
The Second Annual Meritage of Miracles event was held at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Racecourse in Austintown.
Hundreds of people turned out for entertainment, food and a silent auction to benefit the hospital’s palliative care program.
In its first year, the event raised more than $13,000 for the program, which will be opening this fall on the Beeghly campus in Boardman.
Palliative care is a program through Akron Children’s Hospital for children with chronic, complex, and life-threatening illnesses. Pediatric palliative care is holistic care that focuses on physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual, and practical issues that can cause suffering for children and families. They also provide end of life care in accordance to the families desires including 24/7 home care.
Every child is treated regardless of the family’s ability to pay, making donors very important in supporting all care.
Currently, there is a program at the campus in Akron, but organizer Michelle Sergi wanted to see a facility here in the Mahoning Valley and began a fundraising campaign.
Dr. Sarah Friebert, Pediatric Palliative Care Center, said there are programs and services in the Valley now, but more needs to be done.
”What is missing is be so close and to be right here and have dedicated personnel who are able to respond quickly and network with agencies in the community like hospice, or like some of the other community support agencies,” Friebert said.
Someone who knows the importance of palliative care is Rhonda Walker. Her son Carter James was born with a rare brain disorder. She was a single mother at the time faced with caring for a child with special needs. She was offered palliative care and support through her journey.
“I said I would take any support I can take,” Walker said. “If it wasn’t for palliative care, I would have felt so alone.”
All upcoming Meritage of Miracles events are listed on the organization’s Facebook page.