Longstanding but little known organization helps people with catastrophic injuries and illnesses

Help Hope Live was founded by a transplant surgeon and his wife 38 years ago

The organization pays bills directly and guides clients through their medical care.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Although most Americans have health insurance coverage, every year millions of people suffer from catastrophic injuries and illnesses that lead to massive out-of-pocket costs.

Miami Beach resident Sergio Echeverria is one of them.

For as long as he can remember, Echeverria has been drawn to the sea. He loves swimming, diving, boating, and fishing, anything to be near water.

“Sergio is just a man of the sea his nickname is ‘Aquaman,’ he feels without the sea there’s nothing else,” said his wife Lisa Lardi Echeverria.

Sergio’s life suddenly changed this past February when an ATV accident left him a quadriplegic.

“From that point on I have taken a different look at what’s coming and what I expect of life,” he said.

The couple is now facing not only his physical challenges but major financial needs as well.

In their journey for support, they discovered an organization called Help Hope Live, founded by a Philadelphia transplant surgeon and his wife 38 years ago.

“We just never want a medical crisis, to turn into a financial crisis,” said Sonny Mullens, outreach coordinator for Help Hope Live.

Mullens said they currently serve about 4,000 clients with fundraising efforts but it doesn’t end there.

The organization pays bills directly and guides clients through their medical care.

“We’re here for their lifetime, we’re here to help them continuously raise funds for everything related to their medical condition,” she said.

Sergio and Lisa said the support of Help Hope Live and other non-profit organizations, along with doctors, friends and local businesses, is giving them the strength to keep moving forward.

“It’s what gives us hope, it’s what gives us hope to carry on and live with this and if we can take anything from this I need to, we need to figure out how to help others,” Lisa said.

“I’m 62 years old, I have a good life behind me so I want to return to that life, sorry, that’s why I fight very hard to do it,” Sergio added.

Help Hope Live opens about 30-40 new fundraising campaigns every month.

There will be a fundraising event for Sergio in Wynwood on Saturday from 4-8 p.m. at Maps Backlot. For tickets go to app.galabid.com/helphopeliveaquaman/items

For more information on Help Hope Live and Sergio’s campaign go to helphopelive.org or call 800-642-8399.

Sergio Echeverria Campaign: helphopelive.org/campaign/18571

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.