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July 25. 2014 7:49PM

Manchester mom turns to crowd funding for daughter's heart surgeries


Rosemary Levesque's daughter, Mia, 1, has had three open-heart surgeries. In addition to GoFundMe.com, a benefit yard sale today and tomorrow at 150 Jobin Drive in Manchester is helping to defray the costs. (David Lane/Union Leader)


Manchester musician Alli Beaudry holds her new ukulele at Apotheca in Goffstown on Thursday. After Beaudry’s old ukulele was stolen, she used crowd sourcing to fund the purchase of its replacement. (David Lane/Union Leader)

The mom: Rosemary Levesque has been using GoFundMe to help pay for her daughter Mia's heart surgeries.

Mia Demers had her first surgery when she was 6 days old and likely will need many more.

Mia was born a little over a year ago with aortic coarctation, a narrowing of the aorta valve, the one responsible for taking blood away from the heart.

Open heart surgery is usually completed as soon as the problem is diagnosed. The condition is never entirely curable, and those suffering from the complication will need heart surgery throughout their lives.

This weekend, Mia’s family will hold a multifamily yard sale to help raise money toward her care. But like many people who need a fundraising boost, they have turned to the Internet and have started a campaign on GoFundMe.com, one of a growing number of sites people use to raise money for dire needs, such as Mia’s medical problems or to jump-start a new business or artistic project.

Rosemary Levesque, Mia’s mother, said initially doctors told her and her boyfriend, Ryan, that Mia wasn’t expected to need another surgery until before her 10th birthday. But this summer, Mia turned a year old and went in for her third open-heart surgery. Each surgery has brought a period of relief for Rosemary and her family, but it is usually followed by weeks of anxiety — not only because of Mia’s struggle, but because of the financial pressure Mia’s care puts on Rosemary and her family.

“You don’t expect something like this when you decide to have a child,“ Levesque said.

Levesque works part time. Her boyfriend, Mia’s father, was working full time before he lost his job because of taking off so much time to help with Mia’s rehabilitation. Now the family struggles to pay household bills as well as Mia’s medical expenses.

The child’s first three surgeries were partially funded through emergency state aid. However, Mia is expected to need more care — and more surgeries, according to Levesque, and part of the care isn’t or hasn’t been paid for through aid.

“I don’t know how long that’s (state aid) going to last,” Levesque said.

To help pay for Mia’s care, Rosemary’s sister started a GoFundMe campaign called “Baby Mia’s Open Heart Surgery.” The page’s goal is to raise $10,000, which is meant to cover the cost of Mia’s medical expenses. For example, according to Levesque, Mia’s third surgery required a $10,000 deposit. That deposit was paid for through emergency aid. However, the remaining $10,000 will need to be paid for by some other means.

“I want to find a way to set this thing (GoFundMe campaign page goal) for higher,” Levesque said. “We just got a few bills yesterday, one for $1,000, a couple $600 ones … one for $8,000 that we just finished paying off from her first surgery. It’s really hard to do everything. It’s nice when people can help.”

So far, the campaign has raised more than $4,000.

The multifamily yard sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday on the corner of Jobin and Taylor streets in Manchester. To donate directly to Mia’s GoFundMe campaign visit gofundme.com/Mias-Heart-Surgery.

The musician: Alli Beaudry will be playing at today's beer festival after she got help to replace her stolen ukulele.

Last week, Alli Beaudry’s ukulele was stolen from her car.

The graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston was devastated. As a sought-after session musician and performing artist, her ukulele was her livelihood.

“Friday was a tough day for me when I realized I had been robbed in my own driveway,” Beaudry wrote on her Facebook music fan page last week.

Beaudry had created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the money needed for Alli to buy another ukulele. Within five days, $400 had been raised, and the page reached its goal. Beaudry is scheduled to perform today at Arms Park in Manchester at the Granite State Brewers Association Summer Fest.


“She was obviously pretty devastated,” said Bill Feeny, Beaudry’s husband. “I think the ease of starting it (the GoFundMe page) made the fundraising successful.”


Beaudry’s experience is just one of a growing trend where people and organizations are using the Internet to crowdfund their ventures.


Crowdfunding entails a person or group using social media and the Internet to raise money for a cause. Anyone with a credit card can donate anonymously on the webpage to the cause. The money is then transferred into the creator’s Paypal or bank account.

According to Jamie Coughlin, director of New Ventures and Incubation at Dartmouth College, crowdfunding these days is drastically different from traditional fundraising simply because it’s based on the Internet and social media.

“They have the ability to tap into a very large audience very quickly,” Coughlin said. “That just didn’t happen five, 10 years ago.”

Coughlin said crowdfunding causes are usually split between social and business campaigns.

There are many crowdfunding websites out there, including Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Crowdfunder and Crowdrise. Crowdfunding sites reached public prominencein 2011 and 2012 when they were mostly being used for business funding and startup support. But an interesting shift has emerged recently— the emergence of social media and online crowdfunding platforms for other fundraising causes. Soon, everything from arranging music tours to paying medical expenses to replacing stolen items were being supplemented through crowdfunding sites.


The more recent — highly publicized — example was the raising of more than $50,000 by an Ohio man to make potato salad. More than 6,000 people donated to the cause.


This spoof cause aside, many serious and legitimate causes have andare being funded through crowdfunding campaigns.


Members of St. Anthony Cub Scout Pack 118 in Manchester used a GoFundMe campaign in April to raise money to travel to a robotics competition. A couple in Hollis whose rental home was destroyed by fire in January used the site to raise money to help replace their belongings.

abeland@unionleader.com


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