When Ellie Freeman of Paavola was fighting a rare form of cancer, she discovered her treatments were only half the battle. The peripheral expenses of traveling to Marquette and beyond for tests and to see specialists mounted quickly.
But her friends came through for her, hosting a successful casino night that offset travel costs and helped her get through the trying time.
Now, feeling healthy with her cancer two years in remission, Freeman is paying it forward as a board member of Don't Do It Yourself, a recently formed local non-profit organization dedicated to helping families who face economic hardship during or after a medical crisis.
"We want people to know they don't have to do it all by themselves; there are people to help," she said. "If you can get them a gas card for a tank of gas, some money for food, or help with a hotel, that means a lot."
DDIY isn't meant to pay medical bills or for national research, according to board president Kristina Coon, but its charity isn't limited to travel expenses, either. As long as the need is immediate, local and related to a medical crisis, it will be considered.
"Living expenses are an appropriate use," she said. "It could be we pay a utility bill, it could be in almost any form."
DDIY was incorporated in August, with eight volunteer board members at the core of its efforts. The group has already held two fundraisers - a Halloween silent auction and a Thanksgiving pie sale - and has assisted one family with travel costs associated with cancer treatment.
The board was forced to deny a second worthy request due to lack of funds, Coon said, but several board members found a way to help by pitching in at a separately-organized fundraiser held for the family.
Coon said she hopes a fundraising dance planned for this spring that will feature local rock 'n' roll stalwarts Marshall Law, along with continuing support from area businesses, will bolster DDIY's helping power.
DDIY is also seeking volunteers to grow its board or just help out as needed. The group could also use a handicapped-accessible, donated office space to help them organize their efforts.
To volunteer, donate, learn more or seek help, check out DDIY's web site at server1.charityadvantageservers.com/client/DDIY_Y2C4TRDM/contact_us.aspx. Alternately, email email@example.com or call 906-370-4922.
DDIY requests that families seeking help submit their requests in writing.