While laying in a hospital bed, many people would be thinking about what they could be doing for themselves, and how they could improve their health and their well-being.
But 13-year-old Altoona native Sarah Donley took a health scare in stride, and rather began to focus on how she could help charities and improve the lives of people around the country.
Donley was rushed to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh this past March after a simple sinus infection and dehydration left her in renal kidney failure. She was released after 10 days in intensive care, but what she saw while staying on the cancer floor, being in the intensive care unit and receiving dialysis really impacted her.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
John Donley of Altoona and his daughter, Sarah, 13, browse the website he developed to raise funds for charity.
"When I was in the hospital and I was getting better, I realized that the treatment I got, other kids didn't get that," said Sarah, now healthy, back at school as an 8th grader at Altoona Area Junior High School and a point guard for the school's basketball team. "I was thankful, and I wanted other kids to be thankful, so I wanted to help out."
So in order to "help out," Sarah started dreaming up ways to raise money for the hospital, and to help get all those sick kids and their families the support they need.
With help from her father, John, the Donleys are in the process of completing www.MyCharityTeam.com, which they hope to launch fully after the holidays. Individuals and other non-profits can sign up with a free membership, and then encourage others to visit the site and buy fundraising products like savings cards that can be used at a variety of stores. From the sale of these cards, ranging in price from $10 to $40, a minimum of 60 percent of the funds are then transferred to the charity of the person's choice, including Sarah's personal fund that benefits the Free Care Fund at Children's Hospital.
"It's built on people helping people," said John. "Not only can they help raise money for Sarah's charity, but for a charity of their choice... and they can bring others into it."
Many of Sarah's friends have already said they have wanted to help out with her cause. Because she has made friends from all over the country through playing basketball, the website is a good way to ensure that anyone can get involved, John said.
And Sarah will need all the help she can get to reach her goal of raising $1 million for the hospital.
"I said it'll be a lot of work, but I mean hopefully we'll get there," John said. "It'll take a while, but you know, stranger things have happened."
To help her reach her goal, Sarah keeps one thing in mind that she realized after she got out of the hospital.
"I said that God has a plan for me, and I should help others," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.