Project Hope awards $76,000 to area health organizations

TUPELO – Just shy of its $100,000 goal, Project Hope is still celebrating.
“In 10 years, we have raised almost $1 million,” said Teri Ward, an onsite co-chair for the organization’s annual team-based fundraiser, Festival of Hope.
This year’s projects brought in $91,275, with $76,000 of the proceeds to benefit local cancer, heart disease and diabetes patients. Another $4,000 in scholarships was awarded to high school seniors.
“We actually had grants that totaled over $140,000,” Cindy Smith, chairwoman of the grants committee, said at the Project Hope awards luncheon on Friday.
The biggest chunk of funds went to the North Mississippi Medical Center Heart Patient Assistance Fund.
It received $20,000 to provide assistance with medications, educational materials, transportation and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation to patients who qualify.
The fund is administered through the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi, which also will handle the $16,000 grant to the NMMC Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund and the $10,200 grant to the NMMC Diabetes Patient Assistance Fund.
The Antone Tannehill Good Samaritan Free Clinic was awarded $15,700 to provide treatment, education and screenings for the “working uninsured” in Lee County.
HealthWorks! received $1,600 to buy fitness equipment.
“We are thrilled to be a Project Hope recipient,” said Donna Loden of the children’s health museum. “We wouldn’t have it if we didn’t have this grant.”
Scholarships in the amount of $500 also were awarded to eight area high school seniors who are either pursuing a medical career of some type or have a parent affected by cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
“I think I’d like to be a pediatrician,” said Tupelo High School senior Alix Robbins, whose father had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery when she was in the first grade.
Liz Dawson, outgoing president of Project Hope’s board of directors, said the grants and scholarships represent “the fruits of all of our labor.”
Project Hope teams in the region already are raising money for next year, as well as preparing for the Dr. Seuss-themed Festival of Hope on Feb. 26, 2010.
“I’m excited,” Ward said. “We’ll call it Hopeville, rather than Whoville.”

Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal