On April 28, the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA) celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting a dinner reception at the Children's Museum in downtown Indianapolis with staff, board members and most importantly, children who have received a life-saving organ transplant thanks to COTA. During the reception, a few young adults and their family members spoke of their gratitude for COTA, while Dennis Boland, The American Legion's Child Welfare Foundation president, had the honor of presenting COTA staff with their 2011 CWF grant check for $46,500.
Since 1986, COTA has provided fundraising assistance to transplant families. And for the past 22 years, COTA has been a recipient of nine Child Welfare Foundation grants, totaling $294,100. This year's grant, sponsored by the Sons of The American Legion, is enabling COTA to update and produce publicity material in effort to spread the news of its existence and the hope it brings to children in need of a life-saving organ, bone marrow, cord blood or stem cell transplant. The publicity material will feature success stories, such as the story of Parker Scaife, which his parents shared during COTA's anniversary reception.
Parker Scaife, an energetic 2-year-old boy from Milwaukee, was born with End Stage Renal Failure and needed a kidney transplant. Fortunately, his mother Lindsay was a match and became his donor. However, the good news didn't stop medical bills from piling, causing the Scaife's to contact COTA for assistance.
Once the Scaife's fundraising campaign got under way, COTA sent out a press release regarding the family's story. Within hours of the release, the Scaife's were contacted by one of Milwaukee's major news networks who conducted an interview with them. Their story aired on a Friday night and within a month, the Scaife's had more than $16,000 in donations from their community.
"COTA helped Lindsay and I focus on getting Parker healthy instead of worrying about funds," said Dustin Scaife, Parker's father. "Just word of mouth and us being associated with COTA gave our community confidence that COTA is a real cause and that all donations were fully supporting our son."
A few other COTA success stories were also shared during the reception, including 20-year-old English Clemons from Carey, N.C., who was born with Cystic Fibrosis, which effects the lungs. Just two weeks after her 19th birthday, Clemons received a double-lung transplant and can now walk up a flight of stairs in a matter of seconds — something that used to take her up to 15 minutes.
In addition to these two remarkable stories, COTA has been a part of nearly 1,700 life-saving transplant stories that can all be found on www.cota.org . COTA's life-saving assistance comes in the means of helping a child's family with fundraising efforts to meet transplant-related expenses not covered by medical insurance. The non-profit organization provides free guidance to family members and volunteers on creating a fundraising campaign, as well as a website donation page. And for the past 25 years, more than 150,000 volunteers have helped families raise $61 million through fundraising campaigns where 100 percent of contributions went to the families.
While COTA is now found nationwide, it got under way in smalltown Bloomington, Ind., as a community effort to save the life of a young boy who needed a liver transplant to survive. Because the family's insurance provider didn't cover the cost of the transplant, the community came to the family's rescue by raising more than $100,000, putting the child on the liver transplant waiting list. Unfortunately, the boy passed away before he was able to receive the transplant. However, his story sparked the creation of COTA and its vision to help other families who encountered similar obstacles.