Charles Miller, Director of Development for Children's Organ Transplant Association, left, and Indiana Past Detachment Commander Dewey Long.

Legion Family lends helping hands to young transplant patients

Throughout the past year, Legion Family members nationwide raised money through golf outings, spaghetti suppers, karaoke contests, cars shows and other fundraisers to contribute life-saving dollars to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA).

Based in Bloomington, Ind., COTA is the largest organization dedicated to helping families with transplant-related expenses and providing fundraising assistance to community volunteers across the country. With transplant procedure costs ranging from $100,000 to more than $800,000, plus significant expenses after transplants that include medication, transportation and lodging, COTA helps bridge the financial gap.

And support from organizations such as The American Legion helps COTA provide those services.

DeWayne “Dewey” Long, past commander of the Indiana Detachment of the Sons of The American Legion, spearheaded last year’s fundraising campaign in Indiana with a promise to shave his head if the state was able to raise more than $64,000 for COTA. The campaign raised more than $66,000.

“COTA’s fundraising suggestions have a proven track record here in Indiana,” Long said. “We have used all those and a couple more to raise more than $66,000 for Hoosier COTA kids. It has been helpful to have a COTA family at our events because if anyone has specific questions the family can answer them. It works and it is gratifying knowing it is making an impact for these kids.”

Nationwide, Legionnaires are a powerful network of COTA Miracle Makers who are helping to remove many of the financial barriers facing transplant families.

“As one of COTA’s longest and most ardent supporters, The American Legion Family continues to give hope to transplant families across the country,” COTA President Rick Lofgren said. “Since launching its commitment to giving kids and teens a second chance at life, this large and influential group of COTA Miracle Makers has contributed more than $1,000,000 to COTA and to COTA community campaigns.”

COTA’s 2017-18 Impact Report notes that Department of New Jersey Legion Family members raised more than $50,000 this past year while Florida Legionnaires raised more than $25,000.