A Family in Crisis Develops a Website to Help Others
September 30, 2017
On August 5, 2016, at the age of seven months, Hawken Hunt became the only known infant ever diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia, a rare and fast-growing type of leukemia in which cancer cells double every 24 hours. For the next six months Hawken, with his parents by his side, would reside in Cleveland Clinic Children’s as he underwent one of the most intense cancer treatment protocols.
A year later Hawken has met every benchmark and has celebrated his 8 th month of remission. Inspired by Hawk’s heroic journey, his parents launched Lifextrarodinary (www.lifextraordinary.org), a website designed to provide families and individuals facing an extraordinary life event a platform to communicate and coordinate support. The site provides the user an opportunity to create a personalized web page to share their story, crowdfund and schedule necessary support (dinner drop off, child care, etc.). According to Shannon Hunt, “Our mission is to assist and empower people, through collaboration, support, and motivation, to eliminate personal barriers creating a life less ordinary--a Lifextraordinary.”
Hunt went on to explain that it is imperative that individuals or families facing extreme crisis be able to easily communicate their stories and coordinate support if needed. “In our situation, three different websites were created to help our family,” said Hunt. She continued, “each of these had their own log-in, navigational system, and one, in particular, was deceptive in the way in which it solicited funds misleading users to believe they were donating to families while funds were actually supporting the organization. As a result, it became our goal to create an all encompassing site. A site that contains the functionality for family members or friends to provide necessary updates and coordinate support while being financially honest with contributions.” The site was constructed in a way that it is not limited to those facing a traumatic medical event, yet users can initiate a site for a personal event (divorce, mission trip or personal fundraising for a designated cause) or community fundraising event which broadens those that can benefit from the site.
Throughout the design process, the Hunt family relied on their own personal experience as well as feedback from friends and family. The site will be launched at Cleveland Clinic Children’s in October and the family is hopeful that other hospitals and individuals appreciate the value and the user base will grow organically. Processing fees are consistent with other crowdfunding sites and will be utilized to continue to provide the platform. Additionally, those making contributions to families are provided with an opportunity to donate or “make a tip” to the Lifextraordinary Foundation which is a 501c3 that supports families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis as well as research in this area.