TORRINGTON – Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to any family is a diagnosis of catastrophic illness in a child.
The emotional, and financial, tolls such an event exacts can be as devastating to the family as the illness is for its youngest members. But there’s someone there to help.
Torrington-based Gracie’s Promise was started in the spring of 2009, born out of one family’s need. In the intervening years, the non-profit group has grown from that one family, to providing financial assistance for non-medical needs associated with childhood illness to 61 families in Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska.
“Gracie’s Promise started very small,” said Dan Doherty, president of the organization. “But we have served, and continued to serve, more families all the time.”
And now, the group is reaching out to its community for help. Gracie’s Promise will host a series of fundraising events on Saturday, July 8, to gather financial support to continue its works.
“This will be really four separate events going on throughout the day,” Doherty said.
Starting at 7:30 a.m., interested parties can register for the annual Gracie’s Promise 5K Walk/Run, starting at Pioneer Park in Torrington. There’s no set fee to participate in the event, but walkers and runners are asked to donate what they can, Doherty said.
The walk/run starts at 8 a.m. While it’s going on, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., the group will host a pancake feed, also at Pioneer Park. Free-will donations will again be accepted for the feed.
Even as the pancakes are digesting, registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. for the Gracie’s Promise Motorcycle Poker Run around southeast Wyoming. Again, a free-will donation will be accepted from participants interested in riding the Poker Run route.
There won’t be any prizes for participation in the 5K or the Poker Run, beyond the gratitude of the organization and the sense of doing something good for the community, Doherty said.
“But everyone will get a t-shirt,” he said. “Unless we happen to run out, which has happened in the past.”
But the day’s activities don’t end with the Poker Run. At 7 p.m., at the Bucking Horse Steakhouse in Torrington, events wrap up with a no-host dinner, followed by an auction of donated items. Participants are on their own for dinner, Doherty said. Samples of the auction items can be viewed in the shop windows of some downtown
Participant families are selected based on application criteria for financial assistance by Gracie’s Promise, Doherty said. Families of children to age 21 suffering from sudden, acute illness or injury are eligible, he said.
Once a family is selected for assistance, a lump sum is presented to help offset travel expenses between home and hospital, lodging and other “non-medical needs” not covered by insurance, including deductibles and co-pays, Doherty said. Then, every two months, the family's need is reviewed and, if warranted, additional financial assistance is forthcoming from the group.
For additional information on the fundraiser and Gracie’s Promise, including additional ways to help or volunteer, visit online at www.graciespromise.org or search for Gracie’s Promise on Facebook.