Non-profit that helps pediatric cancer families receives state grant

HURRICANE, W.Va (WSAZ) – A nonprofit focused on helping families and youth battling childhood cancer has received a government grant to fund their mission.

“(The grant is to) provide patient navigation services, which is something I’ve wanted to do for 10 years or more, but we could never get anyone to support us for that particular part of our programs,” said Brett Wilson, CEO and founder of The Walking Miracles Family Foundation.

The Walking Miracles Family Foundation is a West Virginia-based nonprofit organization created to support caregivers, families, and survivors affected by childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancers. A two-time survivor of childhood cancer, Wilson founded the foundation to help others in their battle against the disease.

“It (was) eight years of my life treated for this and now how will I be normal?” said Wilson. “By the time I finished I was 12 and I remember looking at my mom and saying, ‘Now what?'”

Wilson said he and his family lacked support during his childhood battle with cancer, so he wanted to change that for others by creating Walking Miracles. The foundation provides resources, networks and eases the burden of traveling back and forth to hospitals.

According to the Walking Miracles press release, travel costs are the number one barrier to care in West Virginia, so Walking Miracles has implemented the “Country Roads Travel Assistance Program.”

More than 250 families in 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have been helped by Country Roads, a program developed by Walking Miracles in 2013. The program also supports families living in adjacent West Virginia counties of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Ohio who travel to hospitals and cancer centers in West Virginia for treatment and travel out of state when referred by a physician.

The Walking Miracles travel card helps pay for gas, food, and lodging. To date, they have provided families with more than $250,000 in travel assistance over the past eight years.

“(There’s a great) significance of having navigation as part of cancer treatment because there are different ways you can use navigation,” Wilson said. “We can use navigation to help financially and with resources.”

Wilson said they can now hand out iPads with everyday resources and networks to act as guides for families.

“We’re trying to have resources available to them on a tablet (so they can say ‘okay, here’s the hospital, here’s this restaurant, here’s this hotel, or the pharmacy is here.'”

The scholarship also enabled Wilson to take on the foundation full-time and hire a nurse navigator experienced in working with surviving children.

To learn more about the Walking Miracles Family Foundation, to request assistance, or to donate, visit www.walkingmiracles.org

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