Oyster Bay-based YOLO Strong Foundation is celebrating a decade of helping local families caring for sick and disabled children, but its work is far from over.
The nonprofit began with three women competing in an obstacle course race for charity. Now, more than 200 community members join them in races to fundraise for three causes, notably the charity’s first beneficiary: The Morgan Center in Hicksville, which is the nation’s only free preschool for children battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
“We raised $3,000 for The Morgan Center that first year,” says Danielle Taylor, a founding member of The YOLO Strong Foundation. “Immediately after that we had calls coming in from women in our town asking if they could join our team. We were so excited.”
YOLO Strong Foundation’s Impact
Taylor, along with fellow founders Jeannine Del Pozzo and Stephanie Dean, has seen the organization grow more and more over the years. In addition to helping The Morgan Center, they now donate iPads to nonverbal children with autism to help them communicate with their families, and offer financial assistance to families caring for children with illnesses or severe disabilities.
“The only difference between us and these other moms and dads is one phone call, and your life completely changes,” Taylor says. “One parent has to stay home to take them to hospital visits. They find themselves in a much different situation than they might have been before the diagnosis.”
The foundation has helped families with mortgages, car payments, medical bills, paying for equipment and therapies, and more. It also gives back to the Friday Friends program, which allows parents to drop off their children with special needs for an evening of activities and enjoy a night out for themselves.
“It breaks my heart to see kids who are mentally and physically fragile,” says Sean Acosta, a major supporter of the charity who helped organize its celebratory 10th anniversary gala on Oct. 22. “We don’t have a lot of resources for them, so these women go out and they raise the money themselves. They have stayed together and just keep building on it.”
The YOLO Strong Foundation is now starting a real estate program called The YOLO Group, where individuals can get a real estate license and donate a portion of their earnings to the charity.
To learn more, visit yolostrong.com.