Updated: December 08, 2020 08:45 AM
Created: December 08, 2020 05:00 AM
One of the biggest sources of pride for Northern Lights Foundation board members is their emphasis on being local.
"When you give to Northern Lights Foundation, you are giving to your neighbors that are going through something really tough," Dr. Ross Perko said.
Perko sees it all the time. He works with kids who have cancer as a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Essentia Health. He also sees how money troubles weigh on parents who would rather just be there for their kid.
"It's just stress on stress," Perko said.
That's why he's proud to be on the board of the Northern Lights Foundation. The nonprofit supports families with kids facing a life-threatening illness by giving them grants, usually of about $2,500.
"They're not meant to support you forever. They're meant to get you through that little time," he said.
The money can be used at the family's discretion, for medical bills that might be piling up or for simple things like groceries or rent.
"Insurance doesn't put gas in your car," Perko said. "Insurance doesn't pay your hotel bill. Insurance doesn't cover childcare or anything else."
Those little things add up. But Dr. Perko has also seen how a small gesture of generosity can bring people out of isolation.
"I see people on their worst day all the time," he said. "And when you see a little glimmer of hope, and you see some kid or a family just when they're at their lowest and there's like, wow, somebody cared enough about me to help me out with this ... you just get this sense in their eyes that they're not alone."
But Perko said the pandemic has made it hard to fundraise and keep this work going. The foundation's gala in May was canceled, and its More Cowbell event in January will likely have to be virtual.
You can support the Northern Lights Foundation by clicking here or by calling 1-877-949-0383 during Good Morning Northland and WDIO News at Five, Six, Nine and Ten on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Volunteers will be able to take your donation over the phone.
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