Hope for Harlee Foundation committed to battling pediatric cancer

Six-year-old Harlee Joanne Salmi touched the lives of those she knew and those she didn’t know in Northwest Montana.

The angelic girl from Hot Springs died of cancer just over a year ago, but a foundation in her name is helping support those battling cancer and their families.

Last weekend at the Sanders County Fair, the crew of the “Hope for Harlee” Foundation was busy serving tasty burgers and drinks to carnival visitors while raising money for the fight against childhood cancer. It also works to provide support and resources to families with children battling life-threatening illnesses and to fund research to find a cure.

Lisa Hodgson, Harlee’s grandmother and mother of Taylor Salmi, spoke about the foundation’s work.

“So much needs to be done for families with children battling cancer,” Hodgson said. “Parents miss time from work and there are many costs that are not covered, such as travel, hotel and food costs.

“We were helped by so many and we wanted to prepay it,” Hodgson said.

Taylor helped lead the foundation and she is also the director of the Cabinet Mountain Cooperative, formerly known as the Sanders County Educational Services Co-op.

It employs a full-time occupational therapist, two speech therapists and school psychologists. She is a speech therapist herself.

Hodgson said Taylor, through her many connections with the schools in Sanders County, has also organized a change campaign in the educational institutions for the month of September.

“All students in the county get a bag to take home and the change they collect goes to the foundation,” Hodgson said.

It also has homemade soap, candles, and clothing for sale with proceeds going to the foundation.

The foundation has raised more than $100,000 in a short period of time. It has supported 16 Montana families with children battling childhood cancer, donated $10,000 to Montana Children’s Hospital in Kalispell to support neurology programs for children in Montana, and also $10,000 to Dr. Nicholas Vitanza.

dr. Vitanza is a pediatric neuro-oncologist and translational scientist at Seattle Children’s Hospital whose career has been devoted to caring for children with tumors such as DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma).

Those wishing to make a donation on behalf of Harlee can donate to the Hope for Harlee Foundation.

Donations can be sent to PO Box 397, Hot Springs, Montana 59845.

For more information, contact the foundation at hope4harlee@gmail.com or see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/harleesalmidipg/ or visit hopeforharlee.org.

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