“Hope Travels 5K” Supports Mission to Help Patients Cover Medical Expenses Through Community-Based Fundraising


It can be a lonely and frightening road for the chronically ill or injured, especially for those facing transplant surgery, or dealing with a sudden spinal cord injury.

Not only do they have to cope with the trauma of their diagnosis, they and their families also face exorbitant medical costs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified the problem.

Help Hope Live is on a mission to help by mobilizing communities to provide financial relief and hope

Help Hope Live is lesser known than GoFundMe, but the nonprofit has been a trusted medical fundraising solution for nearly four decades—and it all started here in Delaware County.

Virtual 5K

To support their mission and raise awareness about families who have been forced to fundraise, Help Hope Live is launching a nationwide event on Sunday, May 16: the Hope Travels Virtual 5K.

The race is open to individuals or teams and you can choose whether the funds you raise go to support Help Hope Live’s mission as a whole or one of their thousands of clients across the country.

Registration is $25. Participants receive a Hope Travels t-shirt and a fundraising page that can be shared via email or media to collect donations and recruit friends.

It’s a 5K your way: Participants choose the activity, the place, and the time of their race. Some walk, some run, some bike. There are people participating in wheelchairs or hitting the treadmill indoors to complete the 5K.

‘It’s not really about competing—though there are rewards for top fundraisers. It’s about logging miles against medical debt to fund relief for those in need,” says Shannon Shensky, Director of Communications for Help Hope Live.  

 The 5K fundraiser allows Help Hope Live to reach more people with its mission and provides a safe way to connect their clients to communities of support at a time when in-person fundraisers have largely been canceled due to the pandemic.

5K sponsorship

There are also opportunities to sponsor the race either as an individual or company, with sponsorships ranging from $500 to $10,000.

Companies can enter their own teams to support the nonprofit and use the event as a way to promote their own business.

Locally, Glenmede, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Main Line Health have signed on as sponsors.

“The pandemic has drastically altered most workplaces, limiting social interaction. Hope Travels offers companies a way to gain exposure and engage employees in a team-building activity for a good cause,” Shensky says.

A sponsorship means recognition on race T-shirts, the race website, and other special materials.

You can find sponsorship information on the Hope Travels Virtual 5K sponsorship page.

A sponsorship means recognition on race T-shirts, the race website, and other special materials.

You can find sponsorship information on the Hope Travels Virtual 5K sponsorship page.

About Help, Hope Live

Located in Radnor, Help Hope Live is a nonprofit that has been bringing patients and community funding together for 38 years.

The organization works with patients and their families to identify networks of support within their personal and professional communities.

From there, a campaign page is set up on the Help Hope Live website where people can make tax-deductible donations, offer messages of support, and create fundraisers to share with their community.

All the money raised in that patient’s name goes to Help Hope Live and is then available for them when they need assistance for medical bills or anything that’s related to their treatment and care.

That could mean covering expenses beyond medical bills; buying a wheelchair, modifying a vehicle or home for accessibility, or paying for a lifetime of medications.

First-year expenditures for those who need life-saving transplants or experience spinal cord injuries can easily top $100,000.

“Even with the best insurance, there are always enormous out-of-pocket costs to the families we serve,” Shensky says. “Help Hope Live exists so that a medical crisis doesn’t become a financial crisis.”

The client benefits financially from Help Hope Live’s nonprofit status: campaigns are eligible to receive tax-deductible donations, employer matching gifts, and corporate and foundation support.

Help Hope Live also helps clients by finding ways to lower medical costs. It finds savings through its relationships with hospitals, social workers, medical suppliers, and other vendors. 

Help Hope Live can also help a patient establish fundraising goals early on before the medical bills start coming in.

A little history

Help Hope Live was founded in 1983 by a Villanova transplant surgeon and his wife, a nurse.  At the time, heart transplants were considered experimental surgery, not covered by insurance companies.

The couple set up an organization, then called the National Heart Assist & Transplant Fund, raising $300,000 for three local heart patients.

The organization expanded nationally and in 1995 included campaigns for other organ, marrow and cell transplant candidates.

In 2000, they added catastrophic injuries to the list of patients eligible for their service and became Help Hope Live in 2011

Today, Help Hope Live supports campaigns for all types of medical conditions, including support for cancer patients dealing with chemotherapy and COVID-19 survivors.

It has amassed over $150 million, helping thousands of families nationwide.

Since its founding, Help Hope Live has helped more than 4,300 patients receive a transplant, covered millions in out-of-pocket medical expenses and helped bring independence and quality of life to over 1,400 individuals with catastrophic injures.

In 2014, the organization was ranked the No. 1 nonprofit in Philadelphia by Charity Navigator and it continues to be ranked nationally in the top 1% of all charities. 

“We have a track record of success, uniting communities to help their neighbors in times of medical crisis.,” says Shensky. “Today, our charitable impact is often overshadowed by the for-profit GoFundMe. We’re on a mission to change that, too.

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