Thank You for a Special Evening
Last night’s “Evening of Fine Wine, Fabulous Food & Football” raised a record $70,000 thanks to the generosity of our supporters. A special thanks to all those businesses and individuals who donated items to our auction and to the dinner guests who engaged in the spirited bidding that resulted in the record results that put Hopecam well on our way to helping 300 children in the coming year. The wine was fine, the food fabulous and even though the Redskins lost, everyone had fun.
Thank you also to Event Chair Becca Willcox, Co-Chair Brad Hawkins and Hopecam Staff person Danielle Mock for making the evening such a success.
We will be posting photos and videos from the event in the next few days. Stay Tuned!
Day 8 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Yesterday was day 8; the final day of Matt and Len’s Climb
Matt honored 11-year-old Adrian Garcia on his final day of climbing. Adrian was diagnosed with Leukemia on September 6th, 2012 a few days before his 11th birthday and since then he is being treated with chemotherapy. He was doing well, but what he missed most was going to school everyday and seeing his friends. Adrian’s mom said, “before this school year he always had perfect attendance so you can imagine how hard was for him to miss so many classes before he got enrolled in the homebound program… Fortunately, and thanks to a mother we met in his oncology clinic, we learned about this marvelous program HOPECAM so Adrian will have the opportunity of still being in touch with his peers and teachers…he just received his iPad and he just can not wait to get in touch with his classmates!” Adrian is one of 6 children living in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida area who have been connected by Hopecam.
We are also pleased to report that Matt and Len made it safely down the mountain yesterday evening and were very much looking forward to a warm shower. As Matt and Len prepare to return home over the next few days, there is still work to be done here. We are only $3,685 away from Matt’s goal of $20,000. Please share Matt’s incredible accomplishment with your friends and family so we may reach Matt’s goal by the Sunday evening, August 4th. https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/mforkas/matts-climb-for-hopecam/event
Almost to the top—Day 6 of Matt’s Climb
Today is Day 6 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro. They will be setting up camp shortly at Crater Camp which is approximately 18,500 feet above sea level.
Matt is honoring 9-year-old Luka Willis today. Late last year, Luka began experiencing high fevers, vomiting, and wasn’t able to sleep through the night. A trip to the doctors revealed that he had cancer. So, on December 4th 2012, Luka was diagnosed with both AML and ALL Leukemia and told he would have to undergo a bone marrow transplant. While visiting Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. last month, Hopecam Executive Director Susan Koehler got special permission to visit with Luka who she had met in February when she delivered his iPad. “His iPad is his most prized possession,” Luka’s grandmother told Susan. On the last day of school, Luka’s classmates called via Skype to say “hi.” Luka was thrilled. While he has been undergoing treatment, much of which requires that he remain in isolation, Luka has been able to communicate with his friends, teachers, and family members thanks to the connection created by Hopecam. Unfortunately, doctors just notified Luka and his mother yesterday that there is still one cancerous cell in his body. Doctors are doing all they can do to remove that cancerous cell including medical trials. Luka will be in the hospital for the next few weeks battling this cancerous cell. Please keep Luka and his family in your thoughts as they fight to beat this horrible disease!
Matt will be reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on Sunday. Please help him reach his goal of $20,000 by clicking here.
Day 5 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Matt and Len are on day 5 of their climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. They are currently setting up camp for the night at Arrow Glacier which is approximately 15,700 feet above sea level. Tomorrow will be their toughest climb yet as they will be heading towards Crater Camp; which will require them to climb 2,500 feet.
Today Matt is honoring Jessica Choe who is 7 years old. In November 2012, weeks before her 7th birthday, Jessica was diagnosed with Lymphoma. It all began with Jessica complaining of a sore throat. 3 days later, Jessica was diagnosed with Strep and put on antibiotics. After 2 days of being on the antibiotics, a lump appeared on her neck. She was immediately admitted and given IV antibiotics with the assumption that this could simply be an infection. When the lump did not subside, Jessica was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Jessica’s mother, Jenna, said that Jessica was already a shy child in school before she was diagnosed. However, she was finally starting to get acclimated when they had to take her out of school for treatment. Hopecam was able to connect Jessica just in time to celebrate her birthday with her classmates. Jenna knew it was necessary that Jessica stay connected to her friends, so every week thanks to her Hopecam connection, Jessica connected to her friends in art and music class. Jenna recalls the children jumping up and down with excitement to be able to talk to their friend. In March of this year, Jessica and her family received the news that Jessica was cancer free. When her classmates heard the news, they started screaming with joy!
Jessica and her parents are currently in Orlando Florida for her Make-a-Wish experience. We are so glad Jessica is cancer free and wish her a fabulous time at Disney in Orlando this week!
Please help children like Jessica stay connected to their friends at school by donating at https://www.firstgiving.com/32696/matts-climb-for-hopecam
Thank you for your support!
Day 4 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Today is day 4 of Matt’s climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. By the end of today, Matt and Len will have reached Lava Tower; which is approximately 14,850 ft. above sea level. Lava Tower is a huge rock formation that reaches over 100 feet tall. After hearing from Matt and Len this morning, we learned that the hike has been fairly easy thus far. Due to their current altitude, during the day the temperature is between 50-60 degrees, however at night the temperature drops down to 30 degrees. The terrain possesses many characteristics of the desert and a volcanic mountain: lava rock everywhere, and only shrubs and small wildflowers.
Matt is honoring 12-year-old Jacob Fitzgerald. In November of 2010, when Jacob was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a tumor in his left femur. His parents had to take him out of school in the 3rd grade so he could begin treatment right away. His treatment was completed at the end of July 2011, so he is just about to hit the 2 year post-treatment mark! He remains cancer-free today!!
“We learned about Hopecam from Holly Senn, the Child Life Specialist at Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital. She forwarded our application to Hopecam and very shortly we received two cameras. We used the cameras to allow Jacob to stay connected to his grandmother in Texas so she could see how he was doing. He enjoyed being able to see his teacher and classmates, as well. Our camera enabled Jacob to see other friends and relatives, too. He felt less isolated and cut off from the outside world. It was a lifeline to the world that we wouldn’t have had otherwise; a true blessing to us during a pretty rough time.
We send Matt wishes for safety and courage during his climb. It is very encouraging to see the great accomplishment of a former child patient who is now strong enough to climb mountains! He sets a wonderful example to all children going through life-threatening illnesses! Bless his heart!!” – Pam Fitzgerald, Jacob’s Mom
As Matt and Len complete their 4th day of climbing at 14,850 feet, it seems only fair that we raise $14,850 by the end of today. We are only $1,780 away from reaching that goal! Please help in supporting Matt’s climb at https://www.firstgiving.com/32696/matts-climb-for-hopecam
Day 3 of Matt & Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
It is currently 11pm as Matt finishes the 3rd day of his climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Matt & Len gained another 2000 ft. today as they hiked from Shira Plateau to Fischer Camp. Matt reported that the terrain was made up of rocky ground and low grasses and shrubs.
Today, Matt is honoring 9-year-old Reed Switzer. On July 14, 2012, Reed woke up with severe pain and vomiting. After a visit to the pediatrician and a trip to the emergency room, doctors determined there was a large mass in his abdomen. The doctors chose to perform emergency surgery to find out what this mass was. The mass which was removed was the size of a baseball and softball combined. After tests, scans, biopsy’s and more, it was determined that Reed was in Stage 3 of B-cell Lymphoma. Reed endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy which required month-long stays at the hospital. Reed’s mother Amy had this to say about Hopecam’s role in Reed’s recovery: “Hopecam is a wonderful organization. By giving Reed his own iPad, he was able to keep up with his school work by video conferencing with his home school teacher. Reed would go in for a round of chemo that would last between five and seven days. His teacher was not allowed to come to the hospital, so we would set up a time every night so they could do his work. The Ipad was also great for playing games. Being stuck in a hospital for long stretches of time gets very boring for an eight year old boy. It was also helpful for anxiety. If Reed was going to have a procedure, he could play a game or watch a video to keep his mind off of what was about to happen.”
We are so glad to report that Reed has been in remission for 9 months and doing well! Your generosity in helping children just like Reed stay connected to their friends while they are undergoing treatment. Please help us reach Matt’s goal of $20,000 by donating now at https://www.firstgiving.com/32696/matts-climb-for-hopecam
Day 2 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
At the end of his second day of climbing, Matt Forkas has hiked above the clouds—literally. He is now at an altitude of 11,500 feet with a clear blue sky above and the clouds below. At this elevation, he reports being surrounded by 150’ cedar trees with monkeys swinging from the branches as he makes camp on the Shira Plateau. Earlier in his journey, he saw zebras, buffalo and elephants. Wildflowers are all around and the vegetation is changing to less thirsty cacti.
Today, Matt is honoring 15-year-old Matias Colson. Earlier this year, an injury to Matias’ right arm resulted in the detection of an osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Matias’ treatment requires a year of chemotherapy, and surgery to remove a portion of his right arm. His mom says Matias is a huge inspiration to everyone he meets and he even wants to write a book about his experience to help others. Hopecam is thrilled we were able to connect Matias to his friends at school. Thanks to our donors, Hopecam gave Matias a tablet computer and worked with his middle school teacher and principal to arrange a time for him to connect. When the school told us they needed a webcam to attach to the classroom computer, Hopecam provided one, free of charge.
Matt is now just about 8,000 feet and $8,000 from his goal. Your generosity is helping children stay in contact with their friends and classmates while they are undergoing treatment for cancer. Every $1,000 you give, connects one child to life. Click here to support Matt as he continues his climb http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/mforkas/matts-climb-for-hopecam/event.
Day 1 of Matt and Len’s Climb to the Top of Mount Kilimanjaro
It’s approximately 11 p.m. in Tanzania as we post this blog. Matt should be resting after his first day of climbing which brought him to the Montage Forest, an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level. This leaves 12,340 feet to climb by Sunday when he is scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest spot on the African Continent. You gave him a fantastic send-off by surpassing our $10,000 goal by the time he left on Friday. Thank you so much for your support!
Thus far, you have helped to raise $11,250. That leaves just $8,750 more to reach Matt’s goal of $20,000. You can support Matt’s climb by clicking here: http://www.firstgiving.com/32696/matts-climb-for-hopecam
Each day of the climb, Matt will honor a child who has been connected by Hopecam with his friends and classmates while undergoing treatment for cancer. Today, Day 1, Matt is climbing to honor Alex Eissenstat. Alex is 6 years old. This February, Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the same form of Leukemia as Matt. Alex, a kindergartner living in Alexandria, Virginia, was connected to his classroom. He has completed the first phase of treatment and is started on the next. Best of all, he is looking forward to being able to rejoin his friends and classmates when he returns to school in the fall as a first grader.
You can also follow Matt’s Climb on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Hopecam as Matt’s dad Len posts updates from Mount Kilimanjaro when he is able to connect via WiFi.
Compliments from a Gamechanger
Take a look at what Mike Bonifer had to say about Len Forkas in his blog Gamechangers:
To date, Hopecam has hooked up more than 300 home-to-school cameras for children with cancer. What happens is that miracles happen. What was invisible–a classmate’s recuperation–has been made visible. What was scary and unknown becomes accessible and unfeared. Roles reverse, and status shifts, as students become teachers. Outsiders move to the center. And get this: Hopecam jailbreaks learning out of the suffocating teach-to-the-test models and opens doors on science, healing, empathy, creative technology, and sometimes even humor that are not found in any standardized tests–but will definitely be on the tests our children and students will encounter in non-standardized forms throughout their lives.
Thanks to Len Forkas and Hopecam for showing 300 times over and counting that there’s no such thing as a hopeless situation, no scenario so dreadful that it can’t be beautiful, too. Onward! http://www.gamechangers.com/?p=3709
A big Thank You to Alex Soltany and the other members of SOS4Cancer for providing Hopecam with an iPad Mini. We look forward to working with you all this upcoming school year. Thank you for your support!