Keeping families connected
Today, Connor Martin is a regular kid, enjoying his summer before fifth grade while swimming and playing soccer. But for Connor, this normal summer is a great accomplishment. Connor was born with a double-aortic arch, a serious heart condition that for much of his life has prevented him from being an active healthy kid. In 2006, his condition drastically worsened. His mother, Kellie King, and her husband knew that they would not be able to afford Connor's medical treatment. Between four other kids and overtime work schedules, their time and finances were simply spread too thin.
Living and working in Westport, Kellie heard about the Christopher Emmet Hallowell Fund, which provides support to local families with children who have major health problems.
"I just happened to meet another mother who had been supported by the Hallowell Fund," remembers Kellie. "It was a fluke, a very fortunate fluke."
The Kings thought long and hard about applying for funding.
"A lot of good hardworking people don't want to ask for handouts," Kellie says. "But this type of community support is so genuine and so available to the parents who need it if they're just willing to ask." They shortly received funding for the costs associated with Connor's treatment, especially travel expenses to see a specialist in Boston, where parking alone added up to $150. "We simply do not have the medical resources locally, so the support of the Hallowell Fund made it all possible."
And now, Connor, Kellie and the rest of the King family feel proud to spread the word and give back to their Westport community. They're willing to go to any function or fundraiser if it will encourage other families in need to apply for funding. "Here, Connor is sort of famous now," says Kellie. "It feels really good," adds Connor.
This summer, he's been busy selling lemonade for donations to the fund.
"It was so hard to see other kids in the hospital who didn't have the same support. Connor would always try to cheer them up. It's really made him want to give back." To other kids struggling through health problems, Connor offers the advice to "just keep moving forward." Connor and the rest of his family are a great inspiration to others in need.
"No parent should stand alone when their child is ill," Kellie repeats. "We couldn't have done it without the great people in Westport and the generosity of the Hallowell Fund."
In 2006, friends of Christopher Hallowell established a fund at Adirondack Foundation in his memory. Christopher grew up in Westport, NY, and they knew how important the continuous love and support from family and friends was to the quality of Christopher's all-too-brief life. The fund's mission is to provide financial assistance for incidental and unexpected expenses to North Country families caring for a severely ill child.