The Justice McNeeley Foundation was formed after the generosity of the community not only paid for the medical needs of a child with spinal muscular atrophy, but there was money left over.
That overflow of compassion led to the creation of a foundation that now assists the parents of children with debilitating diseases to pay for doctor visits, purchase of eyeglasses, hotel arrangements, prescription purchases, wheelchairs and hearing aids.
Sandy Human, secretary of the foundation, said since it was formed almost three years ago, 12 children have been helped with funds exceeding $14,000.
Patricia Lunsford said the foundation is named after Justice McNeeley, who needed a specialized wheelchair. After that was purchased, money was left over.
Lunsford said she was "shocked" at the amount of the donations that were received.
"(Pine/Strawberry) is such a small community," she said.
Human said once people become aware of what the foundation is doing, they are more willing to give.
Katie Parks, one of the board members of the foundation and Justice McNeeley's mother, said her son's new wheelchair allows him to keep up with the other children.
"He's mobile," she said of the state-of-the-art wheelchair, called a Go-Bot.
She said before getting the Go-Bot, Justice had to be carried or had to be in his old wheelchair.
The foundation will not give out money, but will pay bills that are submitted to them.
Some of the fund-raisers held in the past three years have included quad runs, motorcycle poker runs, silent auctions and trail rides with cowboy poets. The foundation plans hold the quad and motorcycle runs as annual events.
Human said, the foundation is hoping more people will come out to ask for assistance.
"People are hesitant to fill out an application for some reason," she said, "If you need it, you need it."
The amounts the foundation has given out since it was formed have ranged from $82 to $6,000.
Lunsford said, the foundation will try to determine how much the applicant can pay for the services or if they are able to pay any amount.
Human stressed that they will need to see the bill before paying the provider, and there are a few dentists who know them and send them the bills directly.
Lunsford said, the Justice McNeeley Foundation used to have limits on the amounts it would give, but later the board decided not to set a limit.
The board is composed of Human, Lunsford, Chairperson Linda Georges, Katie Parks and Eileen Hayes.
Fund-raisers bring in most of the money the foundation gives out.
Lunsford said, if there is a big case where a lot of money is needed, there could be another fund-raiser created just for that child.
If it is possible, when the foundation holds a fund-raiser, the child who will be benefiting takes part in the event.
"If people are helping, they want to see a body," she said.
The most expensive medical bill the foundation has paid thus far was the purchase of a $6,000 brace for a 13-year-old boy.
She said there is some followup with the children the foundation assists, especially the ones with needs that are more expensive, like the $6,000 brace.
"We want to make sure he keeps his appointments," she said.
Human said the foundation does not care what bad habits the parents may have. Instead, they concentrate on the child and his or her needs.
For more information about the foundation, call (928) 476-4722 or (928) 476-2406.