REXFORD - It's down to the wire, but it looks like Hannah's Hope Fund will meet a challenge to raise $500,000 in six months.
The nonprofit organization - whose mission is to eradicate a rare neurological disorder known as giant axonal neuropathy - was charged with the task of raising the money as part of a dollar for dollar matching grant challenge from the Sunshine Lady Foundation in Wilmington, N.C. The private family foundation, established by philanthropist Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire Warren Buffett, has given Hannah's Hope Fund until Monday, Feb. 15.
Saranac resident Carrie Favaro, aunt of Hannah Sames, the girl for whom Hannah's Hope Fund is named, said support has been "tremendous" since the challenge was announced.
"The support from the North Country, once again, has been tremendous," said Favaro. "We're in awe."
Most recently, Favaro said she was out for dinner with friends at Arnie's Restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh and had a memorable encounter with one of the waitresses at the establishment.
"When it was time for us to leave she brought over an envelope filled with her tips and told us to take it and get it doubled," said Favaro. "It was amazing."
Though Hannah lives in the Schenectady suburb of Rexford, her ties to the area through her aunt and parents, Matt and Lori Sames - who are originally from the Plattsburgh area - have been strong enough to garner her major support.
Already, Hannah's Hope Fund has raised the majority of its $500,000 goal. However, events planned this weekend are expected to help the organization meet and exceed the goal.
"We're not there yet," said Favaro, "but we're well on our way to reach the half-million dollar mark."
This Saturday, Jan. 30, American Legion Post 1619 in West Plattsburgh will host a Texas Hold 'em tournament to help Hannah's Hope Fund reach that mark, said Favaro. The tournament, which will begin at 4 p.m., will be limited to 125 players, with a $60 entry fee per person. The entry fee will include a full buffet and prizes throughout the evening. Registration may be arranged in advance by calling 563-6944.
On Sunday, Jan. 31, the Northern Adirondack Trail Breakers snowmobile club will host a spaghetti dinner at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8793, U.S. Route 11, from 12-6 p.m. The cost of the dinner will be a $5 donation, with all proceeds to benefit Hannah's Hope Fund. The event will also include a bake sale, 50/50 raffle and basket raffles.
Take-outs for the dinner may be arranged by calling 594-7052 the day of the event.
Though Hannah's Hope Fund is nearing its goal, the work of the organization to find a cure for GAN is far from over, said Favaro.
"That's not the end of the road for us," she said. "The expense of the clinical trial and treatment of kids and everything - we're looking at another $2.5 million."
"Even though we're so thankful we're reaching this milestone, the journey will continue," she added.
For more information about Hannah's Hope Fund, including an eight-minute video depicting Hannah's story, visit the organization's Web site, www.hannahshopefund.org. Donations may be made on the Web site through PayPal or may be mailed in care of Hannah's Hope for GAN to 19 Blue Jay Way, Rexford N.Y. 12148.