Krista Corner Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A lifetime of surgeries, years of treatments it all boils down to one thing. When a family has a child battling a terminal illness, daily life can be physically and emotionally draining on every family member. Financial strain is also a common side effect of having a child with a terminal illness such as cerebral palsy, cancer or cystic fibrosis, to name a few that still claim children today. Families with sick children have to endure so much, which is what led Montana Highway Patrol officers to create a fun escape from the strain on a family's resources the Montana Hope Project, which just granted wish number 290 to 13-year-old Kayla LaSalle of Havre. On May 10, Kayla, her parents, Bob and Susie, and her brother, Beau, 18, will travel to Disney World for the vacation of a lifetime, just before Kayla's 14th birthday in June. Kayla said it was the best birthday present ever and she hopes to visit Universal Studios first. Hope Project president Richard Hader presented the trip and additional gifts to the LaSalles Saturday at Pizza Hut in Havre. Included in the wish package, the Hope Project awarded the LaSalle family round-trip airfare, lodging, car rental and tickets to the theme parks paid for by the Montana Hope Project, he said. In addition to the all-expenses paid vacation, Hader gave the LaSalles a digital camera to take pictures of the trip, a stuffed bear, a blanket and $1,100 in spending money. "They get their breakfasts and dinners paid for, so that money is for stuff like lunches and souvenirs," Hader said. When asked what she Though she should spend the money on, Kayla giggled and shrugged. "Clothes?" She suggested. "Na, you're brother," Beau said, smiling. The Montana Hope Project was started in 1984 by the Association of Montana Troopers, Hader said. According the organization's Web site, the patrol officers wanted to create a service that would make a positive and rewarding impact on the communities the officers served. The Montana Hope Project today is a separate entity funded through charitable donations by individuals and businesses, as well as fundraisers like the Ride for Hope 500 which includes a starting point in Havre this year July 26, the Town Pump Miller Lite Annual Golf Tournament, Fun Run/Walk for Hope and others. In addition to the fundraisers and wish granting, the Montana Hope Project gathers recipient families together for an annual reunion in the summer at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex in the heart of Glacier National Park. Families gather together for a weekend of fun with activities ranging from helicopter rides to rides through the park in the famous little red buses. On Saturday, the LaSalles reveled in being part of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "We're just so grateful," Susie said. "Thank you, Montana Hope Project," Kayla said.