Non-profit that helps pediatric cancer families receives state grant

HURRICANE, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A non-profit organization that focuses on helping families and youngsters battling childhood cancer has received a state grant to help fund their mission.

“(The grant is to) provide patient navigation services, which is something I’ve wanted to do for 10 years or more but we could never get anybody to support us for that particular piece of our programs,” said Brett Wilson, CEO and founder of The Walking Miracles Family Foundation.

The Walking Miracles Family Foundation is a West Virginia-based non-profit organization created to support caregivers, families and survivors impacted by childhood, adolescent and young adult cancer. Wilson is a two-time survivor of childhood cancer and created the foundation to lend a hand to others as they battle the disease.

“It (was) eight years of my life being treated for this and now how will I be normal?” Wilson said. “By the time I finished, I was 12 and I remember looking at my mother and saying ‘now what?’”

Wilson said he and his family had no support during his battle with cancer as a child, which is why he wanted to change that for others by creating Walking Miracles. The foundation provides resources, networking and eases the burden of traveling back and forth to hospitals.

According to the Walking Miracles news release, the cost of travel is the primary barrier to care in West Virginia, so Walking Miracles implemented the ‘Country Roads Travel Assistance Program.’

More than 250 families in 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have been helped by Country Roads a program developed by Walking Miracles in 2013. The program also supports families living in bordering counties of West Virginia in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Ohio who are traveling to West Virginia hospitals and cancer centers for treatment and out of state when referred by a physician.

The Walking Miracles travel card helps pay for gas, food and lodging. To date, they have given families over $250,000 in travel assistance during the last eight years.

“(There is a big) significance of having navigation as part of cancer treatment because there are several different ways you can use navigation,” Wilson said. “We can use navigation to help financially and resources.”

Wilson said they are now able to give out iPads with daily resources and networking to work as a guide for families.

“We try to have resources available to them on a tablet (so) they can say ‘alright here’s the hospital, here’s where this restaurant is, here’s where this hotel is or pharmacy is here.’”

The grant also allowed Wilson to take on the foundation full-time and hire a nurse navigator who has experience working with children that are survivors.

To learn more about the Walking Miracles Family Foundation, to apply for assistance, or to donate, visit www.walkingmiracles.org

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