'Huge blessing:' Tour de Triangle raises money, awareness for parents paying off sick children's medical debt
Posted April 27, 2018 6:19 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:20 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — When you have a sick child, you don't think of the cost, and you’ll do anything to make them better.
But bills add up quickly, and this weekend, the Tour de Triangle bike ride will raise money to help those sick children and raise awareness about a program to help their parents pay off medical debt.
The Hassler family from Greensboro is one family that knows the stress extensive medical debt can create.
With a toothless smile and bow in her hair, 6-year-old Anna Kate Hassler looks just like so many other kindergartners.
She loves spending time outside and is the picture of health. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Since the day she was born, Anna Kate has had major health complications, including a brain defect called Chiari's Malformation, mean she was born structural defects to her skull and brain.
“She never slept, she cried a lot, she would fall a lot,” her mother, Kimberly Hassler, said. “She just was really kind of an unhappy child.”
She lost feeling in her hands and had pain in her legs. Without treatment, her future looked challenging.
“It was kind of hard for her to enjoy things that normal kids did,” Hassler said. “She’d play a little but, lay a little bit.”
Her father, Jon Hassler, said there were times she couldn’t even walk.
“Not being able to play, not be able to run, even pick things up or simple things like throwing a ball would be difficult for her,” he said.
To help Anna Kate meant seeing multiple specialists at Duke University Hospital and UNC Hospitals, many surgeries and days in the hospital to relieve the pressure on her brain and spine.
“We had insurance, but as soon as the bills start rolling in, you realize insurance is only going to cover so much,” Jon Hassler said.
As the bills roll in, these bikes roll out. For the second year in a row, the Tour de Triangle bike ride will raise money for the United Healthcare Children's Foundation.
Proceeds go to help families like the Hasslers, who received $7,500 to help pay medical bills.
“(Receiving) that grant to pay off the medical debt is huge for a family like us,” Kimberly Hassler said.
The Tour de Triangle, described as a ride not a race, is 30, 62 or 100 miles Saturday morning in Raleigh at The Meadows.
"(This has been) just a huge blessing to be able to not be in medical debt," Kimberly Hasser said. "Year after year of accumulating that, it was just intense."
The United Healthcare Children's Foundation has a goal of 20,000 grants by the year 2020.