Local News

Inspired By Those He Helps, Franklin County Man Reaches Out To Critically Ill Children

Posted December 23, 2002

— There's a common thread that binds Jesica Santillan, Jordan Wright and Sarah Walther.

All have been on death's doorstep.

"He had hodgkin's disease," said Hope Wright, Jordan's mother, "eighteen months of chemo."

Only 12 years old, Walther has endured both a heart transplant and a lung transplant.

All three children have been helped by Mack Mahoney, a Franklin County man who had a vision inspired by Jesica Santillan.

"My wife and I have always helped children" Mahoney said.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Mahoney heard about Santillan. Jesica's family placed an ad in the paper when their little girl needed an operation; the surgery cost a whopping $10,000.

Mahoney answered the ad and started

Jesica's Hope Chest

, an organization that helps pay medical bills for chronically sick children.

"With the hope chest, they paid close to $20,000 in bills for us," said Hope Wright.

When Walther received her transplant, her mother had to live in Chapel Hill while her father worked at his job back home in Louisburg. Her mother said the hope chest helped them pay rent on the apartment and utilities.

Mahoney built a home with volunteer labor and donated materials. The profits from the sale of the home will help other kids like Jesica, Jordan and Sarah.

When the buyers found out what their money was going toward, they insisted on paying the market $193,000.

"Money is something nice to have," Mahoney said. "But money is not what it's all about."

Mahoney said this holiday season likely will be one of the best for him and his family because they were able to bring hope to children like Jesica.

Mahoney is currently helping eight children and their families. Jesica Santillan is still waiting for a match for both a heart transplant and a lung transplant. For more information, go to the

Jesica's Hope Chest web site



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