SARATOGA SPRINGS – Have you ever lost a loved one and in your grief and reflection notice a red cardinal outside your kitchen window or resting in your favorite tree? Many believe that the red cardinal is the most notable spiritual messenger. When I looked up the word cardinal I learned it’s derived from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. “Like a hinge on a door, the cardinal is the hinge on the doorway between our Earthly world and the Spirit world, carrying messages back and forth.”
After Heather and Brian Straughter lost their son Jake at the age of four Heather decided to train for a half-marathon to help her get through the pain. During many of her runs, Heather would notice a red cardinal floating by her in the sky, or perched in a bush as she rounded a corner. On one particular long run, Heather noticed the same cardinal keeping her company, sharing in her journey, and providing a sense of comfort.
Jake’s Help From Heaven (JHFH) was established in 2011 in as way to honor their son, Jake. It is a non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting individuals with multiple medical challenges and disabilities. Heather and Brian’s main goal when founding Jake’s was to help families and individuals breathe a little easier as they face challenges that occur when caring for medically fragile and special needs individuals.
In their founding year, Jake’s awarded the 9 applications received a total of $10,114 in equipment and reimbursements.
Fast forward only 6 years to the year 2017 when Jake’s Help From Heaven granted an unbelievable total of $133,171 to a total of 143 approved applications.
As of December 2017, Jake’s Help From Heaven has granted over $527,000 to families in need.
Heather stated, “We wanted to honor our son, and Jake’s has grown in such a way that it takes my breath away.”
This non-for-profit organization gives 100 percent of all money raised directly to the worthy recipients. Jake’s Help From Heaven has no overhead and wonderful donors who cover any fundraiser expenses.
As a humbled provider of information, I’m here this year; to hand deliver your invitation to Jake’s birthday party, which will take place at Saratoga Strike Zone on April 29th, 11 am-1 pm.
In true Jake’s style, Heather and Brian have designed this event around family. In a town when there are mostly adult attended fundraisers – this is one event that you can bring your children too – and not only give, but create a memory with your loved ones.
There are several bowling options, but the one my family opted for is just $25 dollars per person. The girls and I will be able to bowl for 2 hours, enjoy the ballocity playground, ride the bumper cars, use our given tokens in the arcade, and munch on pizza and drinks.
This event is so organized that about a week prior to the fundraiser, your Jakes nylon bag will be left at your doorstep containing your red Jake’s t-shirt, hat, other fun swag items, and your lane assignment.
I know you have heard it before, but I can confirm as of today there are only 75 slots left and this event always sells out! As someone who has attended this event for multiple years in a row, I can tell you first hand that there is nothing more moving than seeing hundreds of adults and children all wearing their red shirts for a unified cause.
So get your admission HERE!
In addition to the above, there are great raffle items such as a gift basket containing 12+ restaurant gift certificates, an Airstream catering meal delivery package, a paint and sip party, and so much more. Last year my daughter McKenzie won the Cake Boss raffle – where we received a tour of their Lackawanna factory, learned baker’s secrets to decorating cakes, left with an apron and hair net, carrying our own personally decorated round 10 inch cake and an extra 2 pounds on my mid section. This prize for 4 people will be up for grabs again this year!
For those of us who like a libation now and then, there is a 10 dollar wine pull, where you have a chance of pulling a bottle worth $100. Let’s just say, I proudly required a big box to help me lug home all my bottles of red and white.
Last year in addition to the Family Fun Day of bowling, an event called ‘Cheers to Jake’ was added for those giving individuals that wanted to be part of this worthy cause, but preferred to do so while wearing a dress, nibbling on light bites prepared by Hattie’s and sipping on complimentary wine and beer.
This $50 per person event is held on April 26th at the Hampton Inn and Suites from 6 to 8 pm, and is the perfect low key date night filled with heartwarming moments.
One beautiful nod to Jake and those that have passed, are the red cardinals available for purchase prior to the event or at the celebration. These in memorial cardinals will be beautifully displayed upon trees mingled among the guest.
You can pre-register
Weather you decide to attend Cheers to Jake or Family Fun Day (or both!) you will be helping hundreds of families within and around Saratoga. As one of the board members of Jake’s I can tell you how uplifting it feels to know that you have contributed even a miniscule amount to a person in need.
This joy can be through a mesh canopy top for their child’s bed, so the parents know that their loved one is safe at night, to an adaptive bike so an entire family can enjoy the warm spring air together.
Your donations can help alleviate a family’s financial struggle by providing monetary reimbursement for one of their numerous trips to a special hospital for yet another test or surgery. Can you imagine the emotion you will feel, providing a person a voice to call their own through a granted iPad installed with a speech output application?
This year Jake’s Help From Heaven will soar to new heights by well surpassing half a million dollars in donations.
I can’t think of a better way to keep Jake’s spirit alive then to attend one, if not both of Jake’s birthday events! Happy Birthday sweet Jake!
March 4, 2018