Doctors discovered Colton suffered from a high grade glioma tumor in September, and shortly after he underwent brain surgery. Colton’s family then turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for his continuing treatment, including chemotherapy. “St. Jude spares no expense,” said Colton’s mom, Colleen. “It doesn’t matter the cost, they’re going to do what’s in the best interest of my child. The attitude is not to wait and see if something happens, but rather to make sure nothing happens.”

Oliver was placed in an animal shelter. He was sick, and showed signs of past abuse. He had few adoption prospects, but as a fierce advocate for rescue dogs, Betty, decided to give him a chance. Betty noticed Oliver’s sweet disposition and decided he would be a great addition to her growing therapy dog team. Betty and Oliver began training, quickly passed their evaluation, and soon after became a Pet Partners registered therapy animal team. Oliver now visits nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and domestic violence shelters. Oliver shows unconditional love to others even with his painful history.

“His heart is here! Wake up!” Blake will never forget waking up to these words when her father received the call that would save his life and change the course of hers forever. Blake felt helpless when her father was on the waiting list, but after his successful transplant, she found a calling in spreading the word about organ and tissue donation. Blake became a NJ Sharing Network Ambassador at 13, and continues to share her story. She founded the Donate Life club at her high school, leads a 5k Celebration team, and plans to continue her efforts in college. “I am inspired by my Dad’s story, the honorable donors, and the students who have told me they changed their license to reflect ‘organ donor. “

During their 19-week ultrasound appointment, Sherry and RH’s excitement turned to terror when they were told their son’s bladder was abnormally large. To save their baby’s life, Sherry underwent fetal surgery. When Douglas was born, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, and a rare birth defect called prune belly syndrome. Yearning for answers and action, Sherry received resources from National Kidney Foundation, and began personally spreading the word about kidney disease. Now almost three, Douglas has already been through 15 surgeries, but remains a happy, active little boy who loves tractors, Mickey Mouse, and playing with his older sister. Despite the many challenges he faces, his parents know he’s strong enough for the fight. His mother reflects on their health journey: “I want everyone to know about kidney disease, for people to get tested to become living donors. Not just for our son when the time comes, but for others waiting for the gift of life.”

Natalie has a very rare auto-immune disorder that causes blood clots. It took months to receive a diagnosis and in that time, it did substantial damage both physically and cognitively. While she realizes she is fortunate to be alive, Natalie experienced multiple brain infractions that impacted her spatial orientation and balance. Kohlie has been a life-changing gift, as she assists Natalie with bracing, balancing, and retrieving things that drop so that Natalie can avoid leaning over. Natalie lives alone, but with Kohlie by her side, she has the comfort and confidence to travel, and was even able to visit her daughter in California. “I waited for two and a half years for Kohlie. During that time, I was essentially house bound unless someone accompanied me, but now Kohlie and I go everywhere together. She gave me the freedom to be independent. She gave me my life back.”

A CT scan and a biopsy confirmed that a mass in Griffin’s pelvis was Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that occurs most often in and around the bones and typically affects children and young adults. Every time Jill arrived at the hospital for her 8-year-old son Griffin’s chemotherapy treatment for Ewing Sarcoma, she posted signs and drawings on the blank hospital room walls. One sign hung above Griffin’s bed and his IV pole: “GriffinStrong,” it said, with the scribbled signatures of his classmates. “Childhood cancer works overtime to destroy families. It does to children what even strong adults crumble beneath,” says Jill. As Griffin left his last treatment, he had advice for other kids going through sickness just like him. True to the motto he has kept with him through it all, he says, “Stay strong. You can do it.”

Latinos and women are among the populations disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Paula Meza falls into both demographics, however, she was unfamiliar with Alzheimer’s until her mother, Hermina, was diagnosed. Hermina’s extensive medical needs in addition to working full time and being a student, quickly overwhelmed Paula.

Paula began to feel desperate and unfit to manage her mother’s care. Then, a co-worker referred Paula to the Alzheimer’s Association. Although hesitant, Paula quickly felt supported by receiving educational materials in Spanish and connecting with a Spanish speaking outreach coordinator who continues to check in with the Meza family.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, North America will see the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse we’ve had since 1979.

While it’s tempting, it’s dangerous to look directly at the eclipse. The sun’s rays are much more powerful during an eclipse than a normal day, and since the retina does not have pain receptors, you can’t feel your eyes being damaged.

Try one of these easy tips to prevent retinal damage or eclipse blindness:

  • Purchase eyewear specifically designed for looking at eclipses. Ordinary sunglasses are not a substitute—keep your eyes safe and get the real thing! Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for more details.
  • Install a solar filter on your telescope, camera, binoculars, or other viewing devices. Simply looking through these while wearing solar eyewear will not do! These devices magnify the sunlight, making the rays even more powerful.
  • Pinhole projection is another safe option for viewing. This involves passing sunlight through a small opening (such as a hole punched in an index card) and projecting an image of the Sun onto a nearby surface (for example, another card or the ground). Do NOT look at the Sun through a pinhole!

For complete safety information, visit the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Eclipse 101 page.

Unsure when the eclipse will be visible in your area? Check here.

Amidst the 2007 worldwide financial crisis, a large financial services firm looked inward to ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees during the chaos. What they found was bleak: Growing medical costs, underutilized employee wellness centers, lengthy medical follow-throughs, and poor medication protocols among employees.

Their solution? Realigning company priorities—linking health and key top-line metrics. They partnered with Community Health Charities to support their transition: They emphasized employee outreach, hired dedicated medical teams, focused on individualized support, created health and wellness incentives, and tracked employee progress.

The results? Employees were empowered to take control of their health: 85% of participants found the program extremely helpful. 32% saw a doctor. 54% started an exercise program. This led to reductions in healthcare expenditures, enhanced employee engagement, and reductions in healthcare expenditures.

Employee wellness doesn’t just increase your bottom line—it increases the happiness and performance of your entire team.

Jeff and Natalie Meyer opened Perk Place cafe three years ago in Oklahoma City with a simple business model: giving back.  Since then, the coffee shop has expanded to two more locations in Oklahoma. Each of Perk Place’s locations donates 25 cents of every transaction to their desired charities.

Along with their primary cause, Perk Place highlights a different nonprofit every month. The coffee is free from 7 to 8 AM, encouraging patrons to donate to the “generosity jar” in honor of the chosen charity. Perk Place has partnered with Community Health Charities to spotlight a variety of our charity partners; collecting an average of $400 per month for our charity partners. Thus far, Sharing Tree/Christmas Connection, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Limbs for Life, American Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma have been highlighted. Our partnership has helped multiple local and national charity partners raise health awareness and resources.

In the words of Perk Place, “generosity rules.”