Sarah and her husband, Wesley, lost their own son Michael-Evans on Oct. 4, 2009, due to breathing complications from congenital heart defect and a tracheoesophageal fistula, a condition in which there is an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea.
“We spent six long months in Washington, D.C., when Michael-Evans was in the hospital,” said Sarah. “Unfortunately, we know all too well the needs that arise when parents’ only focus is on their sick child, be it a newborn or an adult. We hope to help families not lose their hope, their homes, or their sanities by being a bridge between their needs and their provisions.”
Sarah explained that it was this experience that inspired her family to reach out to other families who are dealing with the struggle of having a child with an illness. METs Heart was officially founded in 2012 but Sarah says that she and her family have been helping families like hers since 2010.
METs Heart’s official website lists several of the services that they provide: “We provide gas cards, parking passes, airfare and other transportation costs. We provide meals, snacks, gift cards, and meal vouchers. We provide clothing, shoes, hats, blankets, and other material items. We provide encouraging words, devotions, and offer up prayers for the families we come in contact with.”
“Families are referred to us either by themselves or someone who knows them or we may learn about their situation and contact them and ask if we can help,” explained Sarah. “After learning what type of help is needed, we get together to see what we can do to help. We have had people contact us directly, and we have contacted families when we learned of the need.”
Sarah also explained that although their website says that they aim to help children with illnesses, their services are not limited to any certain age group.
“Children is such a general term,” said Sarah. “What we really mean is a child in general. It can be an adult and still be a child of a parent but a child still that has a lifelong illness. Just because that child has reached adulthood doesn't mean that illness has went away.”
Although the organization began locally, Sarah explained that their services are not limited to any certain area.
“Our means of helping may be limited but our scope is not,” said Sarah. “We have sent care packages in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, thus far. We can partner with other organizations to reach far and wide.”
The money that METs Heart raises does not go towards medical bills but is given to families in need directly in order to help with the expenses that insurance cannot cover.
The benefits that METs Heart sponsors are all volunteer-based, meaning anyone can help, and they welcome anyone who would like to be a part of METs Heart.
“We ask sororities and fraternities who need community service hours, school groups, churches, people in the community who may know the family that we are helping, and ones who know us.
“Participate in events,” encouraged Sarah. “Donate at fundraisers. Get behind and support the only community based non-profit for these families. We need sponsors who are willing to help us on a continuous basis… We need funds donated to METs Heart that will allow us to continue to do all that we can to help these families… We want to be able to support every family to the max, in every possible way.”
METs Heart is currently planning a walk in October in honor of Michael-Evans. The money raised will go towards METs Heart and awareness for heart defects.
For more information on METs Heart or to donate, visit the official website at http://www.metsheart.org/.