“My only sibling was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 19, then again with colon cancer at age 41,” shares Lynn Hannon, a learning and development manager at Weatherby Healthcare in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Unfortunately, he lost his fight at the young age of 43.”
Devoting a lifetime to service
Lynn has been making a difference for more than 40 years — from volunteering as a camp counselor for mentally disabled youth to serving in her local church and, more recently, fundraising for cancer-awareness organizations. “During one of the fundraisers, we were able to impact a local children’s hospital by donating more than 500 teddy bears to their pediatric patients,” Lynn says.
Cancer strikes again
But in 2010, Lynn received more bad news: “Our friend’s 14-year-old son Elijah was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.”
Over the next two years, Elijah endured rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant. “He hovered near death on multiple occasions,” Lynn reminisces. But he fought hard — and dreamed big.
Making dreams come true
Elijah was uncertain how many more birthdays he would celebrate, but after hearing about a trip that Lynn and her daughter took, he dreamed of going to New York City for his 16th birthday. Elijah’s family struggled financially and couldn’t provide the experience, so Lynn reached out to friends and Weatherby colleagues for donations. Money poured in, covering everything from his airline ticket, meals, entertainment and even money for keepsakes — and soon Elijah’s dream became a reality. “Just seeing the look on his face throughout our five days in New York City was worth all the work,” Lynn says.
Thankfully, Elijah remains in remission today.
Lynn is one of our 13 Difference Maker finalists. CHG’s Difference Maker program celebrates our people who are committed to changing the world by making a positive social impact on others and in their communities.