Non-profit helps families with heat


13-year-old Tyshean Thomas can't play outside too much. But he loves playing video games inside when it's hot.

"His favorite right now is Spiderman," says his grandmother Barbara Stokes.

Barbara says he has cerebral palsy and asthma. She became his legal guardian when he was a baby, promising to give him all he needs.

"He deserves it, he is a good kid, I love him so much," she says with a big smile.

But when his air conditioner started to die last week, Barbara, a retiree, worried how she would pay for a new one on a fixed income.

Fortunately, Bayada Nurses referred her to the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Peggy Dolan started it more than 35 years ago, after she lost her daughter to a rare leukemia.

The non-profit helps local families with critically-ill or disabled children to cover the cost of necessary things not cover by insurance.

It's helping Barbara get a new air conditioner for Tysheen.

Dolan says it's vital.

"This way we can avoid a crisis that would get him into the hospital. For a young boy who has had to deal with a lot of medical problems throughout his life, if we can spare him one more, we've done good," says Dolan.

Barbara says, "With them helping me get an AC is a real blessing, this way I know he will be cool in his room, he will be safe."

A check for that new air conditioner is expected to arrive today. The fund will also help them pay their electric bill.

In addition to cerebral palsy, other conditions seriously affected by the heat include multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, asthma or COPD, cystic fibrosis, and heart problems. For many of those, air conditioning is a must.

The 'Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund' works only on referrals, such as those from nurses or another healthcare provider.

But there are other resources available as well.

The Pa. Department of Public Welfare says county assistance offices often know of local help. Health departments may also have contact with social service agencies. In Bucks County, officials tell Action News that the Family Services Association and Bucks County Opportunity Council can help. Most utilities also offer rebates for newer, more efficient air conditioners.

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