The greens at The Brassie Golf Club in Chesterton were filled to capacity this afternoon as scores of area golfers took to the course to play a few rounds, all in the name of a charity named after one very special little girl.
“We started this eight years ago, in honor of our daughter, Hannah,” said Mary Martinez, co-founder of Hannah’s Hope, a local non-profit charity organization which works to raise money to help families of children with special needs.
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“This is the event that got things started eight years ago,” said Mary. “All the money we raise here today will go toward funding our Equipment Assistance Program, which is how we help families of special needs children to purchase the items that they need. We’ve bought specialized strollers, wheelchairs, leg braces, cranial helmets, weighted blankets… anything that a therapist might recommend to help a child reach developmental milestones. We also will set aside money to help fund the playground that we hope to build this year in Portage, as well as some to help with community involvement.”
Mary said that originally, it was her husband Mike who came up with an idea to hold a golf outing to raise money to help children with disabilities.
“Our daughter Hannah was born with brain damage, likely caused by a prenatal stroke.” Mary continued, “When she was about five or six months old, she was in the First Steps program, and Mike wanted to hold a golf outing, in hopes that they might be able to raise $10,000 and donate that to First Steps. We had our first golf outing in 2010, and we ended up donating over $17,000 that first year.”
Mike Martinez, Hannah’s dad and co-founder of Hannah’s Hope, is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that Hannah’s Hope has received from the community over the years.
“They just show up in droves. We actually have several golfers here waiting in case some people don’t show up, just so they might get a chance to get out there and play. We have more people than the course can handle. We were sold out and actually had to turn people away who didn’t get their money in until the last minute,” said Mike.
“I feel today is our most special event because it’s the first thing we ever did and it’s our biggest event of the year. We have 144 golfers here - 36 foursomes - and over fifty sponsors, including Indiana Beverage, Lakeside Wealth Management and many other local businesses and families like the Dilley family, who have been there for us for years. It’s a great opportunity to come here, play a little golf and find out a little bit more about exactly what Hannah’s Hope is and what we do, which is to help kids with special needs.”
Niki Avina, Board Secretary of Hannah’s Hope is also grateful for all the support that the organization receives from the community, and is touched by the work that they are able to do.
“Last year was our biggest ever,” said Avina. “We raised about $35,000, and we’re hoping to top that this year, about half of which will come directly from our sponsors We are so grateful for all the support that we see from the community. We know from our experiences with Hannah that there are many things which special needs children require that are not covered by insurance companies. We want to be able to meet those needs in our area, to give these children and their families every possible chance for a better life.”
Avina shared one particular case that touched her heart.
“We were contacted by a local family, who said that their son used a special communication app on his iPad at school. The app helped their son to communicate with his teachers and friends at school, but they could not afford to purchase it for use at home. They asked us for help with that, and we made that happen for that family,” said Avina.
Joe Hall, a police officer for the city of Valparaiso, and a member of golfing foursome “The Crew,” is a proud supporter of Hannah’s Hope.
“Mike and Mary have been friends of ours for over 20 years.We’ve been there with them throughout. We’ve been there from the very beginning and we’ll continue to be there forever. As long as this continues, we’ll be here, this is a big part of what we do. My wife, our family, our friends. We’re at every event that goes on. They’re like family to us. They do an amazing job and we’re here to help support them any way possible.”
If you would like to learn more about Hannah’s Hope, or to make a donation, you can find them online at www.hannahshope.org/