On Saturday, October 27, 2015, the Jeffrey Campbell Evans Foundation had it’s first fund raiser. It was held at Wildewood Farm in Ball Ground. The use of one of their horse barns was donated by Hannah and Peter Zapletal. With the help of good friends, Nancy & Harry Stewart, and Linda and Lanny Everett, we had the barn decorated like an old-fashioned hoe down, lots of lights, scare crows, pumpkins, etc! We had a DJ (our neighbor Everett Cope), who kept the barn rocking all night long with a fantastic assortment of country music. We had hay rides for the kids, a bon fire to be enjoyed by all, and a wonderful BBQ dinner, much of which was provided by another good friend, Jan Webster. Bob and Mary had the opportunity to tell about our Foundation, especially from the standpoint of how it affects both the patient and the family. Patrick Gahan was with us to represent Enduring Hearts and their foundation’s goal of funding research to make heart transplants last longer was also presented. Many, many thanks go to all who participated. We had more than 90 people there and their donations at the door added up to a VERY good start to our fund raising efforts. Our Foundation bank account is officially open! And YES…there will be a Second Annual Preserve at Etowah Hoe Down next year. Stay tuned!
On Tuesday evening, October 13th, Mary and Brad attended a Piedmont Hospital event that honored Brett and Louise Samsky, an extremely passionate and generous couple who have donated $4,000,000.00 to build the Samsky Advanced Heart Failure Center at Piedmont Hospital. It will service many heart transplant patients. This is the first such center in the United States. What makes it unique is that every possible thing that a patient suffering from heart failure might need will be within 100 steps of the elevator. This is a very BIG thing for these patients. Before this becoming available to them, they had to walk what they referred to as “The Blue Mile.” If you know anything about Piedmont Hospital, you know that it is made up of many buildings, all connected of course, but not in a very convenient manner. The blue mile stretched from one end of one of the buildings to the other end of another building and pretty much covered all the ground in between! This meant that the patient might have labs done at one end and a doctor visit at the other, all in the same day. We were shown an aerial view of it and it was simply amazing. It required a whole lot of walking for people that had a whole lot of trouble doing just that.
This event was a very emotional one for Mary and Brad. A heart transplant recipient told her story and that brought tears to our eyes. Jeff had experienced every part of her story, right up to being taken into surgery. One doctor that we talked to for quite some time, described the actual heart transplant surgery. Talk about an intense conversation. And that same doctor introduced us to another heart transplant recipient. As we listened to these stories, we could not help but shed a few tears just thinking about what Jeff went through and also what he would have gone through if he had gotten a heart. As you can imagine, having a conversation with a person who has received a heart transplant is a bittersweet moment for our family. We are so happy for that person, but we cannot help but think of “what could have been.” It was not an easy event to be a part of, but a very important one to help us move forward from our pain to being able to help other people whose shoes we have walked in.
The final people we met were Brett and Louise Samsky. They are such humble and kind people. In one way we are on the same team. Our contribution is much small than theirs, but equally important. That’s exactly how they made us feel. We have hopes of getting to know them on a much more personal level in the future.
This post may sound a bit redundant, but our two foundations met on Monday, October 12, to discuss some details concerning how we would move forward as one foundation. The JCEF is now part of a fully formed 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit corporation. Fund raising for the JCEF can officially begin! We got down to business during this meeting by discussing our first fund raiser which will be a golf tournament/auction sometime in June or July of 2015. A lot of work is ahead of us to organize this event. Enduring Hearts has kept their operational expenses at almost 0% and it our goal going forward to continue that trend. All of us were pleased with how we all worked together and we all left the meeting tasked with different aspects of the tournament. Exciting times are ahead!
It’s been almost a month since I wrote anything on this blog. A lot has been happening, but a lot had to be sorted out before we could report on the exciting place we stand on right now. Early in September, after the last blog post, we asked Piedmont to consider putting off the remodeling project for one year. As a family, we were realizing very quickly that we just did not have the resources or contacts in place to begin this project. Everything had happened so quickly, and we felt it was time to slow down a bit. Very kindly, Mendal Bouknight agreed with us and put the project on hold. We are still very much in contact with Piedmont and will attend any events that pertain to transplants or hearts that they put on while we are in this waiting pattern, and we will keep Piedmont informed about what we are doing on our end.
Fast forward to this week….for a couple of months we have been talking with Enduring Hearts about the possibility of joining up with their Foundation. Both Foundations revolve around TRANSPLANTS. We have different “main” goals, but all within the transplant community. Enduring Hearts exists to fund research for the purpose of making heart transplants last longer. The Jeffrey Campbell Evans Foundation exists to build residential facilities for transplant patients and their care givers, usually their families, in order to reduce the financial and emotional stress of the transplant process. Patrick Gahan and Ankur Chatterjee are our two contacts at Enduring Hearts and we cannot express how helpful they have been. Just the fact that they suggested the idea of us coming under their umbrella is a miracle (I’m not kidding…it’s that big). They are the most humble, passionate people on planet earth. So on Monday, September 30th, Bob, Mary and Brad had a conference call with Patrick, Ankur and their Tax Attorney, Carter, to discuss the possibility of this idea going forward. On Tuesday, Enduring Hearts Board of Directors approved the plan, and we are now officially joined together.
What this means to our Foundation is that we will not have to go through the tedious process of applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, registering with the State of Georgia, building the infrastructure of our Foundation, including a Board of Directors. All of these tasks take time and money and Enduring Hearts is sparing us all of that! Blessing upon blessing!
A new account will be set up in Enduring Hearts for donations made specifically to The Jeffrey Campbell Evans Foundation. However, joint fund raising events are what we plan on doing to raise funds together. The first one that will be planned is a golf tournament/auction which will hopefully happen next June or July. With this fundraiser and going forward, all donations will be split 50/50 between the two Foundations.
What we have realized as the Evans family is how naïve we were when we began this Foundation. But the main point of that is we DID BEGIN. We took a vision, rolled up our sleeves and jumped in, head first, with all the passion we could muster between the three of us. As this blog shows, we made many phone calls and we set up many meetings with a lot of different people. We have become quickly educated about the transplant world…far beyond what we obviously knew from own experience. It’s been a rocky road in some ways, a waiting game in other ways, but also a big lesson in trusting our Heavenly Father, who we believe with all of our hearts, is in control of this entire thing. Exciting times are ahead! Thanks to Enduring Hearts, this will “get off the ground” in a much quicker way, not to mention in a very professional way. Thank you Patrick and Ankur!