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How-to Crowdfund Medical Bills

How-to Crowdfund Medical Bills

With a variety of fundraising websites, viral social media possibilities and good, old-fashion community events, the odds have never been better for hosing a successful medical fundraiser.

Here you will learn some tips, ideas and approaches for starting a fundraiser for yourself, a friend or a family member. Take advantage of as many events as possible, especially leveraging online viral fundraising. Make sure everyone hears about your campaign through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, local radio stations, newspapers and other publications. With these tools, you’ll be well on your way to obtaining the help you need.

General Overview & Tips for Getting Started

Set up a team

Enlist some friends and family who can dedicate time to helping you update websites, send out thank you notes, contact media, and help volunteer at any events. An e-mail or Facebook group is usually the most efficient and can help the team collaborate and brainstorm as well as share links and useful information.

Set a goal

Start with a smaller goal that can be increased as needed. People are more likely to donate when they see a goal as reasonable, especially if you’re using an “All or Nothing” campaign. (Read more on campaign types below under “Online Fundraising.”) They may feel that their smaller contributions are really helping toward a $5,000 goal versus a $50,000 goal.

You can set goals for single events, a spaghetti dinner for instance, like $5,000 for the night. It also helps to set a special daily goal for online fundraising. Starting a few days before, tell your followers that you hope to raise $2,000 through viral social media sharing on a specific day. Then keep everyone updated as the day progresses to keep the enthusiasm high as you get closer to the goal.

These amounts help contribute toward a larger pot but the smaller milestones encourage more excitement around donating.

Set a small or significant base donation amount

For example, if you’re raising money for a child, use their age as a requested donation amount, e.g. “$8 for 8-year-old John Doe.” You may also choose a small amount like “$5, the cost of your morning coffee at Starbucks.”

You may also announce that on October 10, you hope everyone can donate $10.10. The ten cents is not much to the donor but in many cases it helps cover a significant portion of the fees associated with using online fundraising sites.

Whenever possible, use significant numbers from dates, anniversaries, birthdays, ages, or commonly purchased items. These unique numbers become one-liners that help provide realistic and affordable options for a starting base. Usually, many people will give well over the requested donation.

Partnering with a non-profit

It may be useful to partner with a local charity or a chapter of a national organization. They have very well-connected resources and can assist either through their own donations or by helping you run your own fundraisers under their banner. Their volunteers have lots of experience to guide you toward making your fundraising efforts successful.

Set up a separate bank account

To better keep track of donations and expenditures, especially if you’re working through or setting up a non-profit, you will want to open a special bank account.

Keep in mind that donations are considered gifts, not charitable tax deductions, if they only benefit one individual.

Send reminders

Don’t worry too much about “spamming” your social media. If you keep your post count reasonable, around 2 or 3 per week, then you’ll have a better chance of reaching all of your friends and followers. On important days, like ones that have a daily goal, you may want to post more frequent updates.

Many people who see your campaign for the first time will think, “I definitely want to donate/get a ticket to this!” but they may not set themselves a reminder to remember when they get home. It may take seeing your post 2 or 3 times before they’re at the right time and place to donate immediately.

You may also want to include a polite suggestion such as “The process is quick and painless, but if you need to wait don’t forget to set yourself a reminder! Every dollar counts and is greatly appreciated.”

Once in a lifetime experiences

For those patients who are unfortunately terminal, many medical fundraisers are geared toward life experiences. A wedding, a vacation, a dream concert, a family reunion or other financially difficult event may be worth considering in addition to paying off medical debts.

Plan for windfalls

It may sound hard to believe, but some fundraising efforts are wildly successful. Make sure you know where any money in excess of your needs will go. You may choose to focus them on household bills, invest, or forward the money to another worthy cause. Make sure this is explained in your updates as you get close to your goal.

General Fundraising Ideas

Keep in mind that some cities require you to register or obtain a permit for fundraising events. Check with your council or city hall for local requirements.

Bake Sale

Keep it simple. You don’t need to offer an entire aisle from the grocery store. Choose one thing and make a meme title from it, e.g., Cookies for Caleb, Lemonade for Riley, etc.

It might be best to work with a few local bakeries which may be able to donate or give a discount on their baked goods. This can help save time over baking everything yourself and ensure you have enough supplies.

Restaurant Events

Ask a local restaurant if they will host a fundraiser night. Typically, you can negotiate to receive 10 to 20 percent of the night’s profits. Plan in advance and let as many people as possible know through flyers, social media, local newspapers and radio stations, and other outlets.

Casino Night

While it takes a lot of thoughtful planning, a casino night can be a big win. They serve as a central theme and place for additional fundraising efforts, like auctions, raffles, and food sales. Casino nights are known as a night out for adults where they can dress up and have fun while contributing to a charitable cause.

First, you’ll want to check with your local council or city hall on any regulations or permits that need to be followed due to gambling regulations. Make sure you find out if you need a temporary liquor permit if you plan on serving alcohol.

Then you’ll want to hire some dealers and determine where you will hold the event.  Typical games included are variations of poker, blackjack, bingo, craps, and roulette.

Tickets are sold to attend the event and include a starting chip amount, usually around $10,000 worth of chips with minimum bets of $50 on most of the table games. The chips are often used at the end of the night to enter raffles and/or auctions. An average ticket price is around $75.

A nice meal is usually catered, and you may wish to sell less expensive tickets that do not include this meal or the chips so you can get as many attendants as possible.

There are franchises that offer assistance in setting up a casino night. They take a percentage of ticket sales or set a fixed fee. You may also wish to enlist local business and corporate sponsors to cover the set-up costs. However, the effort is worth it; some charities have made $10,000 on their first casino night and others have made upwards of $30,000.

Poker Night

A simpler and more casual form of casino night is the Texas Hold ‘Em poker night. Using a tournament style will create more buzz and competitiveness. This translates to more funds raised, especially if you allow chip re-buys.

You can use either cash or donated items as prizes, however cash prices tend to provide more incentive.

This approach is all about reaching as many potential donors as possible. Encourage one day for everyone to “Donate” their Facebook status, Instagram photo, Tweet, or other online contribution as awareness for your story or for a specific event.

Raffle

Raffles are usually done in conjunction with another event like a spaghetti dinner. You can buy rolls of tickets at party stores for a few dollars. Choose a valuable prize for the first place winner and consider having second and third place prices, as well. After each ticket is sold, save the duplicate and place them all in a large bowl to draw the winners.

Many successful raffles have deals on tickets like one ticket for $2 or two tickets for $3. Make sure you account for the cost of the prizes if you did not have them donated.

Silent Auctions

These days, a silent auction can be held in-person in conjunction with another fundraising event or can be run completely online.

Typically, the best way to begin is by reaching out to stores and vendors for donations. Family- or locally-owned businesses are the best bet for these donations. These may include gift certificates, electronics, experience packages (like local amusement park tickets), “one in a lifetime” vacations (usually donated by a travel agent), and other similar items.

Memorabilia related to music or sports fetch high ticket prices. High end restaurant experiences also sell very well in silent auctions.

Online Fundraising

 Types of Fees 

Choose your campaign carefully based on the type and number of fees included. For example, some may include both a percentage and a credit card fee. Some may include 3 or 4 kinds of fees.

  • Monthly: These fees are charged at a flat fee per month to have your campaign hosted on the site.
  • Percentage of Donation: This fee is a set percentage is taken off the top of each donation as profit for the company hosting the website.
  • Per Donation: This fee is a flat fee charged per donation you receive. Sometimes the donation amounts are bracketed, e.g., any donation under $20 is 30 cents, any donation between $100 and $499 is $3, etc.
  • Credit card processing fee: Some fundraising websites pass on the credit card processing fee, which is typically around 3%.

All or Nothing vs. Flexible Fundraising

 There are two main types of collection approaches for online fundraising. Which one you choose will depend on the rates and fees associated with the site you choose.

All or Nothing: With this type of campaign, you need to raise you goal amount in order to receive any money. This means no donors’ credit cards will be charged until and unless you have reached the entire pledged amount.  One of the benefits of this is that donors can plan for future income or pledge an amount that they couldn’t otherwise afford at the moment. All or Nothing campaigns also typically have lower fees associated with each donation so you can keep more in the end.

A second less common type of All or Nothing campaigns lets you take the money if you don’t reach a goal but charges a higher percentage in fees, so make sure you know which type you’re using.

Flexible: These campaigns allow you to receive money as it is donated, minus any associated fees charged by the site you use. With a flexible campaign, you can start using the money sooner, but you will typically pay more in fees to do so.

Pick a website to host your campaign

Carefully consider your options when selecting the website that will host your fundraising campaign. While there are fundraising websites outside of those listed below, look carefully at the fees. Many sites that advertise as “free” to use are still taking fees, they just advertise and charge directly to the donors instead of the beneficiary.

GiveForward

Pros

  • Has embeddable widgets for donors to include on websites
  • Page can be made private to be hidden from Google searches
  • Allows videos to be posted
  • Assigns “coaches” to help you make the most of your campaign

Cons

  • A 7.9% + $0.50 fee is taken by GiveForward from each donation. 2.9% and the 50 cents goes to the credit card processing fee.
  • Only includes Facebook and Twitter integration

More information on how GiveForward Works

GoFundMe

Pros

  • Very well-known, may make donors feel more comfortable
  • Option for All or Nothing campaigns
  • Homepage shows recent donations, which advertises your campaign after each donation
  • Gives you a printable poster
  • Fast customer service (usually around 5 minute response time to e-mails)

Cons

  • A 5% fee goes to GoFundMe and a 2.9% fee + $0.30 per transaction which goes to their credit card processor, WePay. This means a $10 donation becomes
  • Must use a Facebook account

 More information on how much GoFundMe Charges

Crowdrise

Pros

  • Promises that you’ll keep $97 out of every $100 you raise.
  • Receive payment monthly or as the donations are received
  • No goals or deadlines that have to be met

Cons

  • Minimum donation of $10.
  • No recurring monthly donations

More Information on Crowdrise

YouCaring

Pros

  • No site fee. The site is funded by its own donation campaigns
  • Small credit card processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
  • Receive donations as they come in
  • Thank you notes sent automatically
  • Supports YouTube videos

Cons

  • No widgets for embedding in other websites

More information on YouCaring

Facebook “Cause” Page

 Pros

  • Donations are tax deductible (if you set up a non-profit)
  • Only a 4% credit card fee through Stripe payment processor

Cons

  • Needs to be run by or through a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization that is recognized by Guide Star.
  • Cannot be merged with fundraisers on other accounts

More information on Facebook Causes

Sample Steps for GiveForward

Most of the above online fundraising sites have a straight-forward and simple registration process. Make sure you invest enough time in your personal story to draw in and engage your readers.

  1. Submit your full name, e-mail address and a password to create an account.
  2. Select “Medical Expenses” as your type of fundraiser and title your fundraiser, e.g., “Rae Johnson’s Injury Fundraiser.”
  3. Check the box to make sure to make your fundraiser searchable.
  4. Upload a photo. Do not skip this step! Adding at least one photo has been proven to raise more money.
  5. Copy and paste the personal story you’ve written in the blank box. (See “Writing your Personal Story” below.)
  6. Select your relationship to the beneficiary of the fundraiser, and enter the name and e-mail for beneficiary.
  7. Set your fundraising goal. Remember you can adjust this later as needed.
  8. Finally, add your phone number and zip code to complete your profile.
  9. Start sharing your fundraising profile’s URL on social media, through e-mail and on flyers. You want to make it go viral.

How to Create a Good Profile

If you can connect your fundraising profile to your social media, do so. Strangers are more likely to donate to a campaign if they can see a name and face that looks connected to a real social media account.

Not everyone has the same preference for gathering information. In addition to a written summary, you’ll want to include photos and a video, if possible.

Photos help tell a visual story, especially one from an active, healthy person to someone in need of a little help to recover. It may be a good idea to take a photo or scan of bills with all personal information (except patient name) blocked out. This helps donors know the cause is legitimate, but it’s considered completely optional.

Videos give an opportunity for those who prefer to listen to your story. Write an outline so you do not sound too scripted. You’ll want to sound natural while still making sure you hit all the important points.

Writing Your Personal Story

Write like a journalist. Include an opening paragraph that quickly summarizes your story, and then get into more details.

Make sure you include “before” details, which make your story more relatable. This can include favorite activities in which you are or were engaged or what you were doing just before you fell ill or got injured. It helps the reader imagine the shock of suddenly being in need of expensive medical treatment.

If you’re finding the profile writing tough, it can sometimes help to have a close family member or friend write your personal story. It creates a bit of narrator distance for those who are concerned that a first-hand account will look too “whiney” or “needy,” (which we assure you is not the case for these profiles!). It can also provide an outside perspective of your personality that might otherwise come off as boastful, e.g., “Jane has always been a very giving person who has donated a lot of time and money to these local organizations…” or “She is a great mother…”

Update your story as needed. Include Update information at the top of your story section if your website does not have a separate update section. Number each update and place the newest above the rest of the text.

 Viral Fundraising

“Viral” fundraising aims to distribute your story and profile link among as many people as possible. This is usually best done through the Internet, but well placed flyers in your local community can also be effective.

Enlist “popular” friends

Find out who you know that has the most active followers on their social media accounts. Reach out to them through a private message asking if they can help by sharing your link and story.

Keep it updated

You should spend a few hours each week updating your profiles and social media. This may include your online fundraiser, like a GoFundMe profile. Don’t forget your personal Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

You may also want a small group of family and friends who can assist you and keep updated through e-mail.

The content of these updates can cover a few things. First, you can update the total amount raised or the amount raised in a set period. This is especially important if you’ve hit a milestone in fundraising.

You’ll also want to give updates on the beneficiary’s health and financial status, including summaries of any doctors visits, general well-being, new bills received, financial losses (like eviction notices or having to sell a family car), and other important news. These help previous donors stay in the loop and also prevents “out of sight, out of mind” that can prevent helpful forwards and shares.

Can’t donate? Share!

Remind your friends and followers that they can help by sharing even if they can’t donate. Sharing your links and story on their social media and through their community creates a large base of potential donors. If 100 friends share and find even just one additional donor, that’s 100 more donors.

Send thank you notes & shout outs

Most donation platforms have an easy way to send thank you notes. Always personalize it with the name if it’s given. Try a simple line like, “Hey Michael! Thank you so much for your donation. We are so touched by your generosity.” These thank you notes are simple etiquette and may also encourage the donor to share your story again.

Shout outs on social media may also be much appreciated by donors and volunteers, but be sure to ask them first if they’re comfortable with being publicly thanked.

Use HashTags

To make sure you reach as many people as possible, tag your social media posts with relevant and common hashtags. Create one of your own but also make sure to use others that may be trending.

Follow like-minded people

Find a niche you fit into. Maybe it’s based on profession, hobbies, or another commonality. Follow people who commonly interact about that topic and be engaging. Talk to them, like and comment on their statuses, and get involved. When you’re more involved in a close-knit community, you’re more likely to go viral.

Posting flyers

Ask permission of store owners to post flyers in their windows, especially in downtown areas or locations with a lot of foot traffic. Flyers near freeway exits and long lights at intersections will be seen by many drivers every day.

Make sure an easy to remember title or hashtag is listed in a large, easy-to-read font.

Reaching out to Local Media, Bloggers, and Other Promoters

  • Make sure you reach out at least 10-14 days prior to your planned event. Weekly publications may need as much as 3 weeks’ notice.
  • Send your press release once a week for the last 2 or 3 weeks before the event.
  • Assign one person of your team as a media contact person. Make sure their name, phone number, and e-mail is listed on all media outreach.
  • Determine the news interest of your story. Don’t rely on them to do it. Write a snappy headline and make sure your story summary is personal, inspiring, and dramatic.
  • Keep it short. 400 words or less.
  • Consider including quotes from family members or event volunteer coordinators.
  • Make sure to include all the relevant information for any events: where, when, cost, website URLs, etc.
  • Include an accurate address for your letter, including the title of the writer or editor you are contacting.
  • Follow up. Remind them that you are there for questions, have a media kit ready with more information, and have high quality photographs ready to print.
  • You may want to send a post-event press release that outlines the success of your event and offers another interview.

Check out your local newspaper and find the e-mail of the columnist or journalist who has covered personal interest stories or charity events. E-mail them directly with a press release. Don’t forget local radio stations, too.

You can use a similar process with popular bloggers and social media users. Look professional and send your press release for a better shot at being taken seriously.

(See the templates below for an idea on how to write these letters.)

Legal Concerns and Restrictions

Some states require a non-profit organization to register if it will be enlisting donations from its jurisdiction. This does not typically apply to individuals. You can learn more about that process for non-profits.

In most states, raising funds under fraudulent or deceptive pretenses may result in fines or imprisonment. This basically means “Don’t lie.” Be honest about your needs, and do not inflate your costs or losses.

Due to differences in personal situations and state law, if you have questions about taxes, it’s best to consult a local tax attorney. For instance, some states have a maximum gift amount that can be given before a special tax must be applied to the donor.

For more on federal gift tax law, which applies after a single donor gives $14,000 or more, read the IRS website

Templates for Reaching out to Media

The following template and samples give you an idea of how to write a press release for your fundraising events.

[Headline of 170 characters or fewer]

[City, State Postal Code] – Summarize the need-to-know details in the first few sentences, including date, time, location, cost of tickets or goods, and the purpose of the event. Briefly summarize components of the event, like raffles and auctions as well as entrainment like musicians.

Include a short description of the medical incident for which the money is being raised as well as the amount that is hoped to be raised at the event. Don’t forget a personal touch about the person in need, like their personality or hobbies.

Include a quote or two from a friend, family member or volunteer, if possible, describing the person in need.

Mention any online fundraising websites like GoFundMe or GiveForward as well as the purpose of the specific amount raised for the event.

End with an offer to submit pictures (and a video if possible) and to be interviewed.

Always sign with a media contact name, phone number, e-mail, and website & social media information.

[Name]

(Phone number) (E-mail)(URL)

(Social media)

Casino Night to Raise Money for First Grader’s Leukemia Treatment

Rockford, MN — On Saturday May 23, 2015, the Help for Riley’s Childhood Leukemia fundraising campaign will be hosting a casino night at 7 p.m. at the Rockford Community Center. Tickets can be purchased online at our website (http://www.helpforriley.com) for $50 and include $10,000 in playing chips for Texas Hold ‘Em poker, blackjack, bingo, craps and roulette. There will also be a raffle and silent auction including a vacation package and 3-D television as prizes. All profits go toward the medical and travel expenses incurred by the family of 6-year-old Riley Hartford.

Riley was diagnosed with stage III leukemia in November of last year. Despite 3 rounds of chemotherapy that have left her sick and weakened, Riley has been passionately devoted to her love of music. She is still taking twice weekly piano lessons and plans to perform her first concert at the casino night at 8:30 p.m.

Riley and her family have an upcoming appointment in June with one of the nation’s leading pediatric oncologists. They will have to travel 3,000 miles by plane and pay for 5 nights of hotel and food. The upfront cost for this medical appointment is expected to be $7,000. The funds raised from the casino night will help cover these upcoming expenses. The Hartfords are currently $46,000 in medical-related debt.

A family friend is also accepting donations through their (URL) on GiveForward.

We have professional photographs and a media kit available upon request. Please feel free to contact me for an interview at your convenience.

Jackson Smith

Media Coordinator for Help for Riley

(Phone) (E-mail) (URL)

(Social media)

Local Restaurant Hosts Charity Night for Injured Roselawn Man

Roselawn, IL – The Italian eatery Barone’s is hosting a benefit for one of its long-time customers on Saturday May 30, 2015. The day-long event at 2321 Main Street will donate 33% of all profits to a fund for 33-year-old Michael Cross, a Roselawn resident who was injured last month in a tragic hit-and-run accident.

“I’ve known Mike for 12 years. He’s a hard-working, generous man,” said Nick Barone, the restaurant’s owner. “I can’t tell you how many times he picked up the tab for other families, just as a random act of kindness. He was always willing to drive a stranger home if they had one too many.”

Cross was hit by an unknown driver in a pickup truck while driving to work early one morning. He suffered 6 broken ribs, a concussion, and a shattered pelvis. Doctors say he will likely need 6 months of physical therapy to help him walk normally again.

Barone hopes to raise at least $3,000, enough to cover the co-pay for all 6 months of Cross’ physical therapy plus his transportation to and from the rehab center.

“He deserves it,” said Barone. “I know he’ll struggle to get back to work since he works a physically demanding job in a warehouse. I’m not sure how he’s going to get back on his feet, frankly. He needs the community’s support.”

Foods available on the day of the fundraiser include deli sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and seafood dishes. All desserts will have 100% of profits donated to Cross’ medical fund. Cash donations will also be accepted by a representative of the Cross family.

Please contact me for photographs, a short video and an interview.

Jason Barone, Media Contact and Manager of Barone’s

(Phone)(E-mail)(URL)

(Social media)

High School Football Team Hosts Bake Sale for Teammate with Double Kidney Failure

Rosewood, CO – On Friday May 29th, the local Rosewood High School football team is holding a bake sale on the practice field at 2800 E. 4th Ave. The proceeds go to the family of running back Jake Wilson, who has been a team player for 4 years.

The bake sale begins at 3 p.m. and is also available to students during their lunch periods. The baked goods and drinks will range from $0.50 to $5. There will also be representatives available to register new organ donors.

“Our goal is to raise $5,000,” said Jay Hernandez, the senior team captain. “This helps cover the uncovered cost of Jake’s dialysis while he waited on the donor list.”

Wilson has been on the recipient list for 6 months but was dropped for a period due to a kidney infection with MRSA complications. Last month, Wilson was given 7 days to live and made his peace, all the while cracking jokes and making loved ones laugh through their tears. Miraculously, a double kidney donor came through on the sixth day. Wilson and his teammates had a completely new perspective of the importance of organ donation.

“We hope to raise awareness about the issue of organ donation,” said junior teammate Ryan Hall. “We know registering is an option when we get our driver’s license, but as high schoolers we just don’t think about it until it hits this close to home.”

The team is also accepting GoFundMe donations through its website www.gofundme.com/JakeWilsonsHealthFund

Please contact our media coordinator, Coach Valuckis, for more information.

Sincerely,

Coach Valuckis & The Rosewood High Football Team

(Phone)(E-mail)(URL)

(Social media)

A Post-Event Press Release

Comedy Fundraiser for Local Burn Victim a Rousing Success

Lakeview, AR – Over 300 supporters attended Comedy Night fundraiser event for a local woman recovering from burns she received in a house fire last month. The next event is already planned and will help at least 12 additional patients at the St. Margaret Regional Hospital.

The event held at the Mirage Banquet Hall at 241 S. Carson St. featured 3 local stand-up comics. Tickets were $50 with $45 going to Brown’s medical fund. A live auction was held featuring memorabilia and a two-way flight and 10-day hotel stay in Italy donated by Rachel Evans of Evans Travel.

“We’re so touched by the outpouring of community support,” said Brown’s mother, Diana Brown. “We set a goal of raising $6,000 to cover part of Rochelle’s second skin graft procedure. We are pleased to say we raised over $15,000.”

32-year-old Rochelle Brown was burned on over 60 percent of her body when she was trapped in a burning vehicle after an accident pushed her car off the interstate.

One of the comics was able to visit Rochelle in the hospital just before the event.

“It was so great to see her laughing,” said her mother. “When we told her how many people came, she just burst out in tears. She had no idea that many people would care about a complete stranger.”

Rochelle hopes for a follow-up interview to thank all of the donors. The family is still expecting up to $100,000 in medical costs but plans to sponsor a walk-a-thon and 5k race to benefit others in need.

Marquita Smith

(Phone)(E-mail)(URL)

(Social Media)

Success Stories

Locks for Lyla

Lyla Theoharides, of Wilton, CT  was just  5 years old when she was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that affects mostly children younger than 5. The family raised $70,000 in their first month using a combination of online fundraising, relay running sponsorships, a bake sale, a silent auction, and a 100% donation for a day’s work from a local barber.

When all was said and done, they topped out at over $105,000.

Lyla’s family is a good example of using a variety of both in-person and online approaches to make a very successful fund.

Support Austin Our Hero

14-year-old Austin Niehus was born with an incredibly rare genetic condition called Goldenhar syndrome. He has received over 50 surgeries and was in need of another to fully close his cleft pallet.  The plate the surgeons would use was not covered by insurance, so Austin’s family aimed to raise the $4,000 they needed.

By the end, the Niehus family raised over $330,000 over the course of one year.

The Niehus family did an excellent job using YouTube videos to personalize their story and social media (Facebook) to keep donors updated on Austin’s progress.

Jen Bulick’s Wedding Wish Cancer Fund

When Jen Bulick was told she had only months to live, her family and friends decided to reach out for help making her dream come true. The treatments for her stage IV lung cancer were unsuccessful, but it didn’t stop Jen and her boyfriend of six years, Jeff, from having a beautiful wedding.

Jen’s friends came to the rescue, and with the help of complete strangers on the Internet, they raised over $57,000. They also reached out to dozens of vendors who were able to provide dresses, flowers, food, photography and other services (valued at $52,000) for Jen’s wedding completely free of charge.

Sadly, Jen passed away in October of 2014. Her family and friends took solace in the happiness the donated wedding brought her just months before.

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