When Jones was 24 weeks pregnant, she found out that the baby she was waiting for would be born with a congenital heart defect. In October of 2011, she contacted the Children’s Heart Foundation wanting to get involved. Shortly after, she began planning the first Congenital Heart Walk – Pittsburgh – which ended up supporting 600 walkers and raising more than $58,000. She joined the board shortly after the walk in June 2012 and became president of the chapter in January of 2013.
Since Jones started in January, new CHF-PA events are popping up all over the state, including a golf outing, the Congenital Heart Walk – Hershey, a 5K race, and a family-friendly concert. She is fiercely devoted to heart children, spending what little extra time she has following heart children’s stories online and then sending them encouraging words. She schedules visits to elementary schools to read her picture book, Riley’s Heart Machine, named after her daughter who is doing well thanks to a pacemaker, to the children, and then sends every child home with a bookmark that includes the Children’s Heart Foundation logo and website for their parents to visit.
Jones has a magnetic way of pulling people into the cause, keeping things light and fun while still stressing the importance of the foundation. She exemplifies each aspect of the mission through her extraordinary efforts at every turn.
In all, the Eagles and Teva Pharmaceuticals gave out $100,000 in money to the non-profit organizations on Thursday night.
The following runners-up each earned $11,000:
Nehemiah Davis – Nehemiah Davis Foundation
Nehemiah has served the Philadelphia community for more than 20 years through a variety of community service projects, beginning with his mother’s efforts to feed the homeless each Monday alongside his sisters when they were young. He has since created his own non-profit organization, the Nehemiah Davis Foundation, which hosts half a dozen neighborhood events annually. He serves Thanksgiving dinner to 300 people during his annual ‘Food from Heaven’ Thanksgiving feast and also organizes a ‘Gifts from Heaven’ holiday party where each child receives a gift and a bicycle. In 2012, he provided 100 children with Peace ‘N’ Philly backpacks stuffed with school supplies as part of his Back to School Extravaganza initiative, which also features pony rides, face painting and free haircuts for the children in attendance. In addition to the foundation, Nehemiah also serves as a voluntary lead for City Hall’s Youth Coalition, which helps to push positivity and peace among the youth of Philadelphia. Because of Nehemiah, young people are inspired to make a commitment to serving the Philadelphia community.
Frank Miller – Cathy Miller Cancer Fund, Inc.
Frank Miller is the founder and executive director of the Cathy Miller Cancer Fund, Inc. (CMCF). Because of Frank’s fundraising efforts, CMCF has raised more than $400,000 over the past four years. All of the financial benefits of the fund are channeled to the AztraZeneca HOPE Lodge in Philadelphia which provides accommodations for patients receiving treatment at no cost. The availability of these suites provides much needed accommodations for cancer patients seeking the best care at major hospitals in the Philadelphia/NJ areas. His excellent people skills and determination have allowed him to cultivate the core values of CMCF: to be there for those who need help, treatment or somewhere to turn.
The other seven finalists received $4,000:
Bob Bechtold – National Adoption Center
Bob has been an invaluable volunteer for the National Adoption Center/Adoption Center of Delaware Valley for more than 17 years. In many ways he has put the center into the limelight and continues to raise tens of thousands of dollars each year to help find permanent families for children whose parents cannot care for them. Bob has secured significant sponsors such as Wendy’s, which has been the lead sponsor for the Center’s two major fund raising events for the past seven years. He has also arranged for billboards to carry the Adoption Center’s message free of cost. Bob’s efforts stem from his passionate belief that every child deserves to grow up in a loving home.
Jim Everett – Old Pine Community Center
Jim has volunteered at the Old Pine Community Center for more than a decade. As the Chair, Jim facilitates all board meetings, manages finances, promotes fundraisers and helps manage and guide overall operations. Most notably, Jim serves every Saturday at the ‘Saturday for Seniors’ program in which he helps serve lunch to 50-60 low income seniors. In addition to Saturdays, Jim is at the center several times a week and is even known for stopping in frequently to bring staff coffee from the local café. Recently, Jim attended a fundraiser for the center within an hour of landing from an overseas trip, just to be of service.
Nancy Fink – Southeast PA Division March of Dimes
Nancy’s involvement with the March of Dimes began more than 22 years ago after the tragic loss of her son within hours after his birth. Nancy believes in the March of Dimes mission: to give every baby a healthy start in life. Through her leadership as Team Captain for the March for Babies, her company has raised more than 1 million dollars for the March of Dimes. Even after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she did not miss one day towards organizing the March for Babies Walk which took place just three months later. Nancy has committed her life to helping countless other families in support of the March of Dimes mission.
Derick I. Glenn – Celebrating Our Veterans, Inc.
In May 2011, Derick began a weekly radio program called “Celebrating Our Veterans”. The idea was to raise awareness and gain more community involvement to support disadvantaged and homeless veterans. What started as a one hour program on his day off is now a non-profit organization in which he spends an average of 20 hours each week volunteering between the radio show, transporting veterans to medical appointments, delivering supplies, or simply spending time with a veteran. Derick even pays the $100 weekly fee for the program out of his own pocket. Additionally, Celebrating Our Veterans does a periodic search for homeless veterans so they can begin to place them in a stable environment. Through all of these programs, Derick has helped numerous veterans find housing, medical treatment, enroll in college and even find jobs, making a huge impact on the local veteran community.
Jane Jones – American Cancer Society
Jane is a founding member of the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program in her area dating back 30 years. She fulfills an overwhelming need by coordinating transportation for cancer patients to get to and from their appointments. In the past three years alone, Jane has coordinated more than 1,500 rides for cancer patients. Patients know that they can rely on Jane. In fact, she pays for an answering service out of her own pocket to ensure no call is missed. Now, instead of worrying about transportation these patients can focus on their health and finishing their fight against cancer. She does more than just coordinate transportation for the patients in her community, she also becomes a friend and confidant to each of them. Jane has dedicated her life to helping cancer patients and has made a lasting impact on the Road to Recovery Program.
Maria Kefalas – The Calliope Joy Foundation
Maria began the Calliope Joy Foundation last year after receiving her daughter’s diagnosis of metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD). The foundation aims to raise awareness of pediatric neurological disease, works to attract the best researchers and physicians and supports families to give their children the best quality of life. Maria’s work with the foundation is focused on making the world more beautiful for her daughter, Cal and other children like her. This mission is beginning with the addition of a 15 by 15 mosaic mural at the Seashore House’s horticultural therapy program at CHOP. In addition to her work with the foundation, Maria has been a reliable go-to person for mayors, clergy, councilpersons, community organizers and policy makers seeking her insights into youth violence. Her willingness to pick up the phone and roll up her sleeves – no matter the time, no matter the circumstance – has made her a highly sought after advisor on many issues.
Marion Leary – Sink or Swim, Inc.
Marion has been volunteering in the Philadelphia community since she was 15 years old. Since that time, she has volunteered for the AIDS Fund, MANNA, the American Red Cross, Philly Medical Reserve Corp., ACCT, and Red Paw Emergency. Through her work at Penn, Marion has the opportunity to volunteer with the American Heart Association, working on the cardiac arrest and CPR guidelines. After volunteering in this aspect, Marion began the nonprofit organization Sink or Swim, Inc. to assist people in Philadelphia and surrounding areas who are uninsured or underinsured with necessary medical expenses. Using social networking and web donations, the organization currently helps one individual a month who is struggling with medical bills. Marion has been referred to as ‘life changing’ and ‘an angel’ by the people she has helped. These individuals are assisted by Sink or Swim on the most necessary and personal level, solely because of Marion’s efforts.