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Kids helping kids: Easing the financial burden of childhood cancer
Hailey’s legacy inspires funding to support kids undergoing treatment in Maine
When Hailey started fundraising to help kids like her—kids with cancer—pipeliners were among her earliest supporters.
Her dad was a pipeliner, and when her story spread among his colleagues, oil industry employees gave the little girl spare change and donations to help her raise funds to ease the financial burden of families with a child diagnosed with cancer.
“It was amazing to see them trying to help her,” Hailey’s mom Tabaitha Steward remembers. “Hailey was raised around pipeliners. They loved her; they were her family.”
Hailey was just five years old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. All the while she faced repeated hospital stays and treatments to save her life, she continued to think of others.
Her fundraising initiatives of humble origins transformed into Team Hailey Hugs, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2016 to provide vital financial assistance to families in Maine who have a child with cancer. Since its founding, THH has provided more than $106,000 in emergency funding support to 144 families.
The volunteer-run organization raises funds through donations from the community. Enbridge has supported THH with several grants since 2017, most recently, providing one of $1,000 from our Enbridge Fueling Futures corporate citizenship program.
THH also hosts its own fundraising events, like Go Gold, a yearly festival held over Labor Day weekend in September. “Go Gold was my daughter’s baby. She wanted kids to have fun but at the same time to know about kids having cancer,” says Steward.
Every dollar goes directly to families in Maine. THH works closely with social workers in children’s oncology units who apply for funds on behalf of families. Funding is provided several times during a child’s treatment—for example, at the time of diagnosis and again when families must travel for medical care. And, if a family faces the tragedy of losing a child, THH steps up again, providing assistance for funeral expenses.
Steward knows firsthand how the kind of help THH offers can make a difference to families. “We try to support them in whatever area they need,” she says, adding that the organization owes everything it has accomplished to her daughter’s desire to help others.
Hailey passed away at age 10, a few weeks after the first Go Gold event in 2017. Steward reminisces about her beautiful daughter and the magnetic effect she had on everyone who met her—even Tom Brady was enchanted by her when she had the chance to meet the famous NFL quarterback.
“Hailey was loved by all people,” Steward says. “And she loved them back.”
(TOP PHOTO: Hailey and her mom Tabaitha.)
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