‘Friends of Christian’ Searching for Family in Need
The “Friends of Christian” organization formed in 2013 to organize a fundraiser for a Knox area youth, Christian Burgdofer (pictured below), who was battling Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). POTS is a condition where a person’s blood stays in the lower part of the body when the person stands up, causing the heart to beat faster to try to get blood to the brain, making the person’s blood pressure drop significantly.
According to co-founder and president Michele Beck, the event organized for Christian, which raised over $2,500.00 for the Burgdofer family, was such a rousing success, they decided to turn it into an annual event, helping a new family each year.
They formed a board of directors and named trustees, and a few years later they became an official LLC designated nonprofit recognized in the state of Pennsylvania. Since then, they have gone a step further, and in 2018, they officially became a recognized 501c3 nonprofit organization.
But, as with many other events, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 put a temporary halt on things, and Friends of Christian was unable to hold their annual ride.
“It was a very had decision to cancel last year,” Beck told exploreClarion.com.
“We canceled because of everything with the shutdown. We knew it would just be too hard to get it up and running under the restrictions at the time.”
She noted that the constant awareness that even more people were struggling due to the closures caused by the pandemic weighed on them, but the pandemic restrictions simply made the event too difficult to hold.
With the recent loosening of restrictions, however, the Friends of Christian organization is getting ready to get back on the road this summer.
“We are actively looking for a recipient for this year’s event.”
They require nominees to be a family with a child or children, from birth to 18 years of age as of the nomination deadline, who has a chronic or terminal illness and currently resides in Clarion, Venango, or Jefferson County.
With this year’s event being set for July 25, they have set the nomination deadline for the end of June.
“We’re trying to be as careful as possible with our nominated families. We understand in years past they’ve attended the event, but that might not be possible this year. We’re leaving that decision to the family and taking all precautions necessary to protect them, understanding they’re already dealing with medical issues.”
Those who want to nominate someone can send a nomination to the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FriendsOfChristian/.
The nomination should include a good contact name and phone number for the organization to reach out to the family as well as information about where the nominee resides, the nominee’s age, and, if known, information about the recipient’s medical condition.
Beck also noted they are still looking for donations for the Chinese Auction held at the event, as well.
“We understand last year was a rough year for everyone with businesses having to temporarily close due to COVID, but anyone who would like to donate would be really appreciated, although we definitely understand if people can’t do so.”
This year’s ride may look a bit different than previous years, as well, as they have changed the route a bit. The route has yet to be finalized, but will begin at Infusion Bar & Grille in Clarion and will end with a meal at Limestone Fire Hall, according to Beck.
“It’s very family-friendly there (at Limestone Fire Hall), and people can even just join in for the meal and bring their kids. After all, it’s all about families and kids and helping people,” Beck said.
She also noted that in some ways, this year’s event may mean even more to people.
“It’s important that we show everyone that we can still get out there and help a family dealing with a child with a chronic or terminal illness. We didn’t have an event last year because of the shutdown and businesses closing, but that also means a family went without help last year. We really hope everyone will come out and join us this year and help us help people.”
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