Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foundation Works to Make Life Easier for Families of Ill Children

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foundation Works to Make Life Easier for Families of Ill Children

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhonda Reese

Good news was shared when Christ's Starfish Foundation held a luncheon Sept. 18. Founded by Mandarin resident Carldon Lahey, the foundation works with Wolfson Children's Hospital and families of children under treatment for non-cancer illnesses.

Last year the foundation delivered more than 500 Christmas gifts to 60 children at Wolfson during the holiday season. This year the foundation plans to assist at least 75 more sick children. Much of this work has been funded through the foundations' Dimes for a Defense campaign. Pepsi gave Lahey 1,000 cans made with slots for coin donations.

In addition to providing gifts on Christmas morning, the collected dimes have been used to help families with severely ill children take care of essentials like groceries, gas, utility and housing bills, and phone expenses.

"Having a sick child often means time off work," Lahey said. "We've been trying to help people get over some rough financial spots."

Right now Christ's Starfish Foundation is working on a project even Lahey thought was too big to tackle: They're raising money to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van for the family of Crystal Ranesha Jones.

Though born with spina bifida, Jones, 16, who spends her days in a wheelchair, is an accomplished musician. She has won several talent shows with her singing and saxophone playing.

"Crystal is an amazing young woman," Lahey said. "She will be at Chick-fil-A in Tinseltown [Thursday,] Oct. 9, playing her saxophone and meeting people."

Lahey said he and his wife have already found a gently used wheelchair-accessible van with low mileage that would be perfect for the Jones family.

"Finding that van was a God thing," Lahey added, explaining that when the foundation was contacted by Wolfson to see if they could help this family, he wasn't sure they could. "With God's help, I now believe we can do this."

For more information on Christ's Starfish Foundation or the "Crystal Project," call 612-8522.

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