Nonprofit organization hopes to raise $40,000 at event

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FARMINGTON — Officials of a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to families and children diagnosed with diseases including cancer hope a new fundraising walk will help them increase the number of clients they help.

The Children's Hope Foundation will present the inaugural Walk for Hope from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Berg Park at 400 Scott Ave. in Farmington.

Children's Hope focuses on helping families and children diagnosed with illnesses and diseases that cause them to travel out of San Juan County for treatment.

The organization previously was called the IGW Pediatric Cancer Foundation Inc. and changed its name to the Children's Hope Foundation at the start of 2017, according to executive director Debby Joslin.

The name change occurred as the Children's Hope Foundation took over management and care of the Hope Children's Fund from the San Juan Medical Foundation. The San Juan Medical Foundation provides a grant to the Children's Hope Foundation.

A number of San Juan County families and children have to traveled to cities like Denver, Phoenix and Houston for the children to receive medical care not available in the area, Joslin said.

"It's pretty devastating when a family is told their child has cancer, and their child is only 2 years old or 7 years old," Joslin said.

The travel and medical expenses not covered by insurance can pile up for families, Joslin said. Children's Hope helps provide items including gas and meal vouchers, assistance with lodging, purchasing medical equipment and assistance with utility bills. It also provides emotional support with services including peer coaching and counseling for families and children, assistance with emergency housing and end-of-life care.

For the first year of handling the cases, Children's Hope has helped 132 families in San Juan County, including six children diagnosed with cancer, according to Joslin.

She highlighted two recent cases in which families received assistance. The organization was able to purchase a special bed for a toddler after the family's insurance denied the request twice. And the family of a 2-year-old boy diagnosed with cancer received help with utility bills, which has helped with the expenses of traveling to Albuquerque every other week for treatment.

For the first Walk for Hope, Children's Hope has set a fundraising goal of $40,000. The organization has raised about half of that amount from pledges collected by the 75 participants.

The walk is expected to start at the gazebo at Berg Park, where personnel from the Farmington Police Department and San Juan County Sheriff's Office will be on hand. Farmington police will have tours of their vehicles, including the Bearcat armored SWAT vehicle and the mobile command unit.

The San Juan Regional Medical Center helicopter is expected to land at the event around 10:30 a.m.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett is scheduled to speak at the event.

Registration is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. with an entry fee of $25.

"We encourage people to show up and pay the $25 and have a good time," Joslin said.

Those interested in the Walk for Hope or services offered by the Children's Hope Foundation can visit thechildrenshope.org or call the office at 505-258-8148.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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