“We can’t wait for the world to adapt and include us, we just need to go out and be a part of it…by creating awareness for the needs, invisible and visible, of children who need more,” says Samantha Isaacs, mother of Henry “Hank” Isaacs, one of the Hang Tough Foundation’s Hang Tough Heroes. Like Samantha, Tallahassee mothers Michelle Hart and Janelle Irwin have children who have battled serious medical conditions. Since they found strength in sharing their families’ journeys with each other, Michelle and Janelle decided in 2015 to establish the Hang Tough Foundation to bolster other families seeking resources and needing encouragement while walking the path of childhood illness and managing special needs. In less than three years, the Hang Tough Foundation has already grown to include more than 368 Hang Tough Heroes and serve more than 11,000 people. All services and programs are offered free of charge in order to truly fortify participating families.
Photographs are care of Samantha Isaacs
“There were low expectations of Hank when he was diagnosed at 5 months old,” Samantha shares. “A mile long list of things he probably wouldn’t do. Yet here he is, crushing it.” Hang Tough Heroes like Hank, Hang Tough Sidekicks (aka siblings), and all the other members of Hang Tough Families encourage one another, educate, raise awareness, and support inclusion. They know that a medical diagnosis is not the final word. They know they are Tough As Nails and can gain strength from group support.
Janelle & Michelle and their kiddos, photos care of the Hang Tough Foundation website
“Hang Tough knows,” Samantha emphasizes, “that mom and dad need to get out sometimes, to decompress and reconnect. They know that brothers and sisters can be left out of events because of the obligations to therapies and appointments and general health of their Hero. They realize that having a community to love on each other when things are hard is vital to surviving special needs parenting.” That is the beauty at the core of the Hang Tough Foundation: It serves not only children from birth to age 21 who face serious childhood illnesses and/or have special needs, but also those children’s parents and siblings. It focuses not only on the whole child, but on the whole family.
If you want to help families on a medically challenging journey thrive, use code GIVE077 at checkout today to donate 10% of your PLAE purchase price directly to the Hang Tough Foundation. Shop now to earn a donation.