Bloomington, Indiana – August 7, 2017 – The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is proud to announce that the 4th Annual Miracle Maker Celebration, which was held in late June in Indianapolis, generated $175,000 in life-saving funds. The event celebrated the efforts and contributions of more than 200,000 COTA Miracle Makers nationwide.
At the event, the 2017 George Taliaferro Miracle Maker Award was presented to Paula Hern and Tom Barbour, and the JLH Foundation. The JLH Foundation is named after Paula’s father, John L. Hern, who was a heart transplant recipient. While John Hern awaited his transplant, he befriended numerous transplant patients. He encountered many who could not afford the associated costs of a transplant, such as expensive prescriptions and temporary housing while undergoing treatments. Because of this, the Hern family devised a plan to offer financial assistance to fellow transplant patients. Their wish was made a reality through the formation of the JLH Foundation, which supports the financial needs of transplant patients and their families while promoting the need for organ donation. The Hern family’s generous and loving nature, as well as a devotion to helping those in need, will live on through the JLH Foundation for many years to come.
“The Children’s Organ Transplant Association was proud to honor Paul and Tom and the incredible work the JLH Foundation has accomplished in support of Texas transplant families while honoring the legacy of John L. Hern,” said Rick Lofgren, President of COTA. The Texas-themed gala that was held at Indianapolis’ Crane Bay recognized Paula’s, Tom’s, and the JLH Foundation’s, outstanding efforts for nearly two decades and their impact on impacted thousands of patients and families.
Past recipients of the George Taliaferro Miracle Maker Award are 2016 Carroll Shelby, 2015 Dr. Mirian Taddei and 2014 George Taliaferro.
COTA’s Reeves Family (Bethany and Jared) Reeves of Garner, North Carolina, were the featured speakers for the evening. Bethany and Jared learned they were expecting again on their first-born daughter’s second birthday. Throughout Bethany’s regular prenatal appointments, she was told their baby’s heart sounded ‘perfect’ when the Doppler technology was used. Each prenatal ultrasound check was described as ‘great.’ However, their world fell apart when Baby Naomi was born blue — not pink — on March 22, 2016. Naomi was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Her only chance of survival was a heart transplant. On her 14th day of life, the tiny baby was added to the organ transplant waiting list and the long waiting game began. Bethany and Jared were at her bedside as much as was possible but there were jobs to maintain, bills to pay and their toddler daughter to care for. The family needed help so Bethany called COTA.
On the evening of August 14, 2016, Bethany and Jared received ‘The Call’ for which so many had been waiting and praying. Because of the donor family’s decision, the Reeves’s baby daughter would live. Naomi was a special guest at this year’s Miracle Maker Celebration, and she sat in the audience with her grandparents as her parents told her story of survival and how COTA continues to give their family hope during Naomi’s transplant journey.
Since 1986, transplant-needy kids and young adults from every state have been able to receive a second chance at life due to COTA’s nationwide network of Miracle Makers. From the podium, Lofgren thanked a very special group of COTA Miracle Makers, the 2017 Miracle Maker Celebration sponsors, which included Comprehensive Financial Consultants, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Scott and Nikki Ganton, Hern Family Limited Partnership, Cook, Inc., Stephen and Sandi Lehrman, and Tim and Cheri DeBruicker. Other event sponsors include, James and Haley Gilroy, the Lofgren Family, the Indiana Donor Network, John Simmons – Morris Group and Premier Management, Katz, Sapper and Miller, and Walgreens.
The Children’s Organ Transplant Association is a national charity that provides fundraising assistance to transplant families. COTA’s priority is to assure that no child or young adult is denied a transplant or excluded from a transplant waiting list due to lack of funds. All funds raised in honor of transplant patients are used for transplant-related expenses.