NEW RESOURCE BY MELANIE DAVIS
The Funding Guide for Children with Disabilities focuses on the author’s proven process for applying for support from the various funding sources that assist children. It also includes a directory of over 200 funding sources divided into three categories: National, State and Wish Funders.
For more than a decade, Tamara Simmons has been assisting families in raising the funds they lack to cover assistive technology and other expenses for their disabled children. Tamara said, “I haven’t kept track, but I know I’ve helped hundreds of families.”
Tamara’s journey to becoming a fund raising expert began when her brother, Hal, and his wife gave birth to triplets at only 27 weeks. All three babies were less than two pounds. The neonatologist told them it would be a miracle if all three survived. On the second day, their little son Jacob had a massive brain bleed which changed their lives from then on, as he was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When he reached 10 years old, Jacob’s parents wanted him to receive a new and promising treatment – hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT (which is no longer new and has solidly proven its effectiveness). At first everything was expected to go through for Jacob to receive the therapy, but then their insurance company refused to cover it. With that notification, Tamara declared that she would raise the money herself. Not knowing anything about fundraising, she sat down at the computer and began doing research. Hal was uncomfortable with asking for help, but Tamara insisted it wouldn’t be hard and went on to prove it. She raised over $12,000, providing
Jacob with three rounds of treatment.
After seeing how easy it was, Hal experimented with the process Tamara discovered. “One day, Hal proudly escorted me to his computer displaying a website that he had just used to fundraise for a
swimming pool for Jacob, all on his own and without telling me,” Tamara laughed. From that success, both Hal and Tamara realized that they could assist other families, specifically to receive adaptive bikes for their children.
Tamara and her family are owners of The Bike Rack in St. Charles IL. It began as a small shop, around 900 square feet, and grew into a large and successful store of 10,000 square feet over the course of 40 years. With his passion for biking, Hal discovered a bicycle Jacob could ride with the family despite his disability. Out of this technology, a new division of the business was launched called “Creative Mobility,” which specializes in bikes designed to maximize the abilities of the disabled and give them freedom to ride. In this division of The Bike Rack, all bikes are customized and ordered to fit the capabilities of the rider. Hal often does fittings and modifications meeting the needs of a wide variety of clients, from children to disabled veterans. Where the average two wheeled bike may cost around $300, the adaptive bikes average $3000. That is the challenge and reason families of the disabled need funding support; the expenses they face usually have an extra zero added to the cost.
With multiple successes in raising funds for Jacob, Tamara decided that she would guide and coach the parents who came into their store needing adaptive bikes for their children that they couldn’t afford. She put together a fundraising packet which gave them step-by-step instructions, as well as the most current collection of funding sources. With this resource, Tamara assisted hundreds of families. “I vividly remember receiving a thank you letter from one of the parents telling me how, with the help of my packet, she was able to raise $9,000 for her child,” Tamara recalled.
Mary Anne met Tamara when her special needs son Ethan was just six. Armed with Tamara’s funding packet, she was able to raise free money for two adaptive bikes (due to Ethan’s growth) and a new power chair. A community benefit was held, which raised funds for an elevator in their home. After the event they were only $4,500 short, but another organization they contacted made up the difference. In addition to these free gifts, Mary Anne was able to use the process Tamara taught her to be provided five days at Disneyland, as well as a trip to see Big Time Rush, Ethan’s favorite band. He even got to meet the band in person. Mary Anne has also received grant money for the tile needed in Ethan’s roll-in shower, along with funds for grab handles and bars for his bathroom. In all, by using the funding packet Tamara put together, Mary Anne has raised more than $30,000.
In the course of working with many families, as well as therapists and other professionals through their Creative Mobility business, Tamara became aware of how little people knew about the existence of funding help. Even the experts serving the disability community were frequently in awe of what she knew and could accomplish. With such widespread lack of knowledge, it dawned on Tamara that she should expand her reach and write a professionally-published fundraising guide which she could share, so that more people can find the financial assistance they need.
The Funding Guide for Children with Disabilities contains Tamara’s proven process for applying for support from the various funding sources that assist children. It features the best tips and advice for the greatest chance of being selected. It also includes a directory of over 200 funding sources divided into three categories: National, State and Wish Funders. In addition to the instructions for obtaining funds from these sources and guidance on how to locate more of them than are listed in her book, Tamara also teaches how to successfully run many other types of creative fundraising projects, including crowdfunding, and she shares inspiring success stories. Tamara said, “With the right knowledge, everyone who needs funds can raise them. All it takes is motivation, dedication and a belief it is possible. It is my hope that this funding guide assists thousands of families to see their children reach their greatest potential!”
“I’ve been writing The Funding Guide for Children with Disabilities for many years and have received great enthusiasm along the way,” Tamara said. “This has allowed me to develop partnerships with many hospitals, organizations and nonprofits interested in sharing my guide with the families they serve.” The print version of The Funding Guide is being released on June 15, 2015 by Triumph Press and an e-book will come out in September this year. The print version is available for purchase at her website, www.YourDisabilityFundingSpecialist.com, and when it is released, the e-book will be free to anyone who visits the website where it will be available to download.
The number of partners assisting to raise awareness and distribution of the free e-book is growing and Tamara is pleased to say that, to date, her guide will likely reach more than two million families. “I want this information to reach those who need it; and I’m happy to make it freely available.” Tamara explained. In addition to receiving the guidebook, those who download it will be able to sign up for a free quarterly newsletter, simply titled “The Funding Newsletter,” where they will continue to receive information on the latest trends in fundraising, success stories and other useful content. “I am frequently asked if this book will help adults, as they also have great needs.” Tamara observed. “The answer is ‘yes, absolutely!’ What makes this a guide for children’s needs, is the fact that all the funders in the directory are specifically for children, however the information and concepts apply to all ages and needs.” Tamara said that The Funding Newsletter will not be specific to children’s fundraising requirements only, but will educate on fundraising generally in the disability community.
In addition to The Funding Guide and Newsletter, Tamara is creating an online course where people can watch and learn in a virtual personal coaching setting which allows her to walk them through the processes of fundraising, with the students of her course having completed letters of request and outlined fundraising project plans by the end of the lessons. This will also be available on her website and on Udemy.com.
Tamara said that she has many great champions and sponsors making all of this possible, with a special thanks to The Abilities Expo, who has stepped up as the Media Sponsor, allowing her to attend all of their events where she is able to talk and connect directly with those she is serving. “At the Abilities Expo in New Jersey the beginning of May this year, I was able to witness, firsthand, the great enthusiasm and need for this book as I pre-sold many print copies at a pre-release discount. This showed me both the desire and urgency for this resource,” Tamara said. In order to continue her important work, Tamara is still seeking a few Title Sponsors, Champions and Advertisers. (There will be a special coupon section of the e-book.)•
If you are interested in supporting this effort, or have any questions, feel free to contact Tamara directly through her email:Tamara@YourDisabilityFundingSpecialist.com