Three-year-old Max Heiniluoma was diagnosed with cancer in October, and has been given a two-year treatment program. While his family’s health insurance covers most of the cost, there are many co-payments and lost wages when Max is in hospital. That’s where Cops for Kids with Cancer steps in.
Last week, Robert Faherty, chairman of the board for the non-profit group, came to the Watertown Police Station to present Max’s father Andrew with a $5,000 check to help pay for the costs that insurance doesn’t cover.
Andrew heard about Cops for Kids with Cancer and was told to contact his local police department. He first met with Officer Ken Swift, who contacted the charity. Then the Watertown Police, along with the Watertown Fire Department, the Police Supervisors Union, the Patrolman’s Union, the Firefighters Union and the Whooley Foundation raised some money of their own.
“We raised close to $5,000. Over $5,000, in fact,” Swift said.
They also helped out with presents at Christmas time. Andrew said the gifts and money were a huge help.
“You only have so much bandwidth so to have presents over the holidays taken care of freed up our brains for medical stuff,” Andrew said.
The money will be a big help, too. Faherty said that many families who have a child with cancer fall on hard economic times.
“A lot of people lose homes or get evicted,” Faherty said. “I read that half of families with a child with cancer go bankrupt.”
Andrew said while he has good health insurance, there are still many co-payments, plus a lot of time away from work.
“When he is in hospital, we are there 24/7. You can ‘t leave,” Andrew said. “First you use up vacation time, then FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) time. After that you have loss of income.”
Max was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Most leukemia is Acute Lymphoma Leukemia (ALL), and about a quarter is Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) but Max’s is a mix of both call Biphenotype Leukemia, his father said.
He has been treated at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Max’s treatment includes Chemo therapy every other week and every three weeks he has a to be put under so doctors and test his bone marrow to see the state of the leukemia, Andrew said.
So far the treatment seems to be working, Andrew said.
The Heiniluomas have started a campaign on CrowdRise.com to help cover more of the expenses. The family has a goal of raising $20,000. See more about the fundraising campaign by clicking here.
The Heiniluomas are just one of about 425 families that Cops for Kids with Cancer has assisted. Since 2008, the group has given out more than $2 million, Faherty said.
The group was started by retired Boston Police Capt. John Dow, who was a cancer survivor and realized what a financial and emotional toll the disease took on families.
“In 2003, the group raised $10,000 and gave it to the Children’s Ward at Mass. General Hospital. A couple years later we gave to Tufts,” said Faherty, a retired Boston Police Superintendent and Chief who was friends with Dow. “His goal was to pay for the expenses for every child with cancer.”
While that has not been possible, the group has raised millions of dollars and hands it out in $5,000 allotments to families with a child with cancer around New England. Faherty said all the money raised goes to the families.
“We are a real non-profit,” Faherty said. “No one gets paid. We are all active police, retired police and friends of police who volunteer their time.”
For more information on Cops for Kids with Cancer, visit www.copsforkidswithcancer.org