Make a Difference Week: Friends of Karen, Dana Reeve Foundation

As part of Make a Difference Week, Steve Adubato talks to two community leaders about the impact they’re making: Judith Factor and Peter Wilderotter. Judith Factor, Executive Director of Friends of Karen, discusses the life-changing financial and emotional support her organization offers families with children facing life-threatening illnesses. Steve Adubato then goes one-on-one with the President and CEO of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Peter Wilderotter, to learn about how the foundation works to advance the quality of life for people living with paralysis and spinal cord injuries.

5/9/17 #2036






"My name is Jessie and I have leukemia. I'm Katherine, and I have thyroid cancer. My name is Zach, and my older brother Lucas was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was nine years old. I'm the director of the Family Support Program for Friends of Karen. We provide support from the time the child's diagnosed. My little brother's name is Phil, and he has a blood disorder called sickle cell. Our goal, really, is to make a family's life as... it's never easy. You want to go with chocolate milk? But as manageable and as normal as possible, when they're dealing with the critical illness of one of their children. It's a great organization, and the executive director is with us right here. We're honored, at public broadcasting, to welcome Judith Factor, who's the executive director of Friends of Karen. Welcome. Thank you so much for inviting me. Karen MacInnes, 16 years of age from Westchester County, diagnosed with a rare disease. Talk about her and the organization. Well, the organization was founded by a woman named Sheila Petersen. She was just a kind neighbor who wanted to help her friend bring home her terminally ill daughter to live out the end of her... That was Karen? That was Karen. That was Karen MacInnes. What year was that? What year was that? Back in the 70's? Late 70's? That was 1978. Right. Karen would be in her 50's now, and I'm still in touch with Karen's mom, and Sheila just wanted to help them ring Karen home. So she said she was the original social media person. She promoted Karen's plight in the newspaper, and kind people in the Northern Westchester community who knew Karen, and didn't know Karen but just were compassionate and wanted to help, contributed about $36,000, and that paid for Karen's round the clock care for the eleven months that she lived, and Sheila believed, saw the impact on Karen's family's life, she said, "When you provide emotional and financial support to families with a catastrophically ill child, then they have more time to love." That was Sheila Petersen? That was Sheila Petersen. Who helped... cofounded. Now today, describe the organization. Because it's vast. I live over in New Jersey, and there are three hospitals in New Jersey with children... you said pediatric oncology programs? Right. There are hospitals in Connecticut, there are hospitals in New York, so..."