Collin Raye Continues to Remember Granddaughter Haley With Charity
On April 3, 2010, Collin Raye lost his 9-year-old granddaughter, Haley Bell; the young girl passed away due to a regressive neurological condition that was never properly diagnosed but slowly took away all of her abilities, including the ability to walk. However, Bell's short life inspired her grandfather to start his own charity, the Haley Bell Blessed Chair Foundation, in her memory, to help other families whose children struggle with the same issue.
"They spend their whole life in their bedroom," Raye tells The Boot. "You talk about being blessed by God: We started almost four years ago; we got a $100,000 endowment from a high school who raised money for us out in Utah, and that was how we started."
In those nearly four years, the Haley Bell Blessed Chair Foundation has provided "about 25" wheelchairs, which cost as much as $30,000 each, often not covered by insurance.
"You think, ‘Well, that’s a small number,'" Raye says, "but to those 25 families, it meant a lot."
Losing his granddaughter at such a young age was, of course, tragic for Raye, but the artist's charity work in her memory helps turn a huge negative into a positive.
"The upside of that is, it’s given me a chance to meet some of these families and meet those children who are the beneficiaries, and that’s one of my greatest joys," he explains. "For a few minutes, I get to love on them or joke around with them, and it’s like having Haley back. I look at the parents’ faces when we’re doing that, and they’re teary-eyed."
Raye was closely invested in Bell's life, and so he tries to comfort the parents of the children he's helping as much as possible.
"I understand what that’s like, because it’s such a dark journey to them, in many ways," he admits. "Some kids are born with maybe cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy; they know what it is, and it’s never going to get any better. They may live a long life, and they may not, but I guarantee you, they want to live while they’re here. Their family sure does. It’s a way for them to be a part of it a little bit and help and provide something they’re not going to be able to get."
To donate to the Haley Bell Blessed Chair Foundation, visit the organization's website.
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