The foundation, launched in 2011, provides emotional and financial support to those touched by the disease. To date, its ongoing Extended Hospital Stay grant program has helped 150 families with expenses such as mortgage and utilities.
The assistance is particularly helpful when, as is often the case, young patients are hospitalized in a city away from home, and parents are forced to miss work.
On its website, the foundation tells the story of CF patient Elijah and his family. Elijah’s brother also has CF, and his sister has sickle cell disease. Because Elijah and his sister were recently hospitalized simultaneously, their parents, who work full time, fell behind on bills. A foundation grant helped to cover those bills, and also helped to pay for high school graduation fees and a class ring for Elijah’s sister, who managed to graduate on time.
“This grant has alleviated so much financial stress that my family as a whole are without words,” the parents said in a statement.
The foundation was named in honor of Claire Wineland, an inspirational public speaker, social media star, author, and CF patient and activist who had her share of long hospital visits, including a 17-day stay in intensive care during which time a Facebook page was created to keep friends and fans, including many CF patients, apprised of Wineland’s status. The page’s popularity — its number of followers exceeds 80,000 — led to the foundation’s creation.
Wineland died on Sept. 2, 2018, at the age of 21, and her foundation’s efforts continue.
“My daughter Claire was very clear that her one wish was for us to carry on the mission of her foundation,” Melissa Yeager, the foundation’s executive director, said in a press release. “She would be absolutely thrilled to know we have reached the one million dollar mark, helping hundreds of families, and I believe she does know.”
While Yeager is grateful for the outpouring of support following her daughter’s death, she’s struck by the constant requests for help from families affected by CF.
“No mother or father should have to decide between work and being by their child’s side during hospital stays, and they should not have to be bothered with the stress of bills,” she said. “As painful as it is to lose our dear Claire, we find joy in helping others who are struggling, and know that Claire would be thrilled that the foundation she worked so hard to start will live on in her honor.”
Foundation grants are available to families with children who are hospitalized for at least 14 consecutive days, or who have been hospitalized for that time period within the last calendar year. A letter of reference from a physician, nurse, or hospital social worker is required.
For more information about Claire’s Place or the grant program, visit this site.