When Robin Weaver took over as director of American Legion Riders Chapter 101 in Carlisle, Pa., she made it clear she wanted the chapter to be a service for its community. That approach was on full display recently, benefiting a family dealing with a very difficult medical situation in the process.
On Jan. 28, Chapter 101 staged a fundraiser that netted more than $7,200 for the family of Harmonee Washington. The 6-year-old Harmonee has an enlarged heart with blood clots and is forced to stay at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to use a ventricular assist device machine to help pump blood throughout her body while she waits for a transplant.
Harmonee’s father, Charles Washington, is a firefighter at Carlisle Fire & Rescue Services, and makes a more than five-hour round-trip drive each week to visit his daughter at the hospital. Chapter 101 learned about their situation through a member who also works at Carlisle Fire & Rescue Services.
“I’ve always been somebody who helps other. I’d give the shirt off my back to someone,” said Weaver, a member of Auxiliary Unit 101 and the wife of Post 101 Commander Doug Weaver. “When I became the Riders director here, I told everybody my main goal – and I hoped they felt the same way – was that we were here to help our veterans, their families and our community. So when I heard about (Harmonee), I didn’t even skip a beat. We were on it. That’s just who I want our Riders to be.”
The post hosted a Hope for Harmonee fundraiser that featured a “fill the wheelbarrow” event where participants could donate money to assist the Washington family. There also was a raffle that contribute to the impressive total raised.
In addition to Chapter 101, Legion Riders from Chambersburg Chapter 46, Greencastle Chapter 373, Newville Chapter 421, Fort Loudon Chapter 606 and Lickdale Chapter 910 also showed up to offer their support to the cause.
“I was shocked,” Weaver said. “I didn’t set a donation goal. But the amount of support from the other Legion Riders who came was out of this world. It was heart-warming, to say the least. I told every single one of them that we will definitely pay that forward. That’s just who I want our Riders to be. That’s my goal.”
Harmonee’s father said he was moved by the Riders’ effort. “It lets us know that we’re not alone in this fight,” he told The Sentinel. “There are people out here that really care now. It’s like when you think you have no support, you really do.”
Weaver said Charles was surprised when the Riders reached out. “He thought the family was alone,” she said. “When we reached out to him he was pretty much flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe perfect strangers were going to help his family.
“To be honest, the night of the fundraiser, we brought him up to speak. He might have gotten seven words out and he was done. Just the overwhelming response of everybody who showed up, and talking about his daughter, he just couldn’t get anything out. He was very honored.”