Angela’s Rushford Fund and ad campaign announced

David Harper recently answered a free classified ad in The Rock River Times that resulted in Harper donating one of his kidneys that helped save the life of 5-year-old Angela Rushford.

On Jan. 15, during an appearance on NBC’s Today show and at a press conference at Rockford City Hall shortly after, Harper, Tony and Patty Rushford and community leaders announced the formation of the Angela Rushford Children’s Organ Donation Fund.

The Rock River Times’ Editor & Publisher Frank Schier also announced a national appeal for all free and paid circulation newspapers to offer free classified for those seeking organ donations. “Our free classified saved a little girl’s life. Other newspapers and the electronic media can do the same by offering special public service sections for those in need of life saving organs. This is a national appeal for free ads and Angela’s Fund,” Schier said.

Harper and Tony Rushford talked of forming the fund during the time they were in Madison for the transplant surgery. The fund will provide financial assistance to parents of children 16 or younger who are in need of organ transplants. Editor and Publisher of The Times, Frank Schier, played an integral part in forming the fund’s advisory committee that will be responsible for making Harper and Rushford’s vision come true.

The Rushfords have been financially ruined by the events associated with the transplant. Tony Rushford said most of the surgery costs will be covered by Social Security and newly obtained state aid. Rushford added that even though the medical costs are now under control, the family is still “close to bankruptcy” and faces a May eviction from their home due to foreclosure. The family needs $7,000 to get out of foreclosure. However, if the family makes more than $500 per week, state medical aid that pays for the surgery will be lost, Rushford said–a Catch 22 of the worst kind.

Rushford said Angela came home from the hospital Monday evening and is doing well. Patty Rushford said Angela has a “minor problem” with water retention in the kidney. Angela is scheduled to go back to the hospital on Thursday.

Harper said that although he is still sore, he, too, is doing well, but has experienced hardship as a result of his generosity and unemployment. For example, his workman’s compensation was temporarily cut off because he was not available for work during the time he was in Madison donating his kidney.

Harper receives workman’s compensation due to injuries that now prevent him from finding employment in his former specialty—as a welder and as a construction worker. Harper is seeking employment but has not been successful.

Rockford Mayor Doug Scott announced the fund on the nationally broadcast Today show and personally donated $500 to the fund at the press conference. Scott, who is a member of the advisory committee, said the fund will provide much-needed relief for many people.

Schier and the staff of The Times donated $300 to kick off contributions to the fund. Schier also challenged print and electronic media outlets to provide free advertising for individuals and organizations seeking organ and blood donations.

The fund will be administered by the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. Members of the advisory committee that will distribute funds to qualifying applicants are: Co-Chairman Tony Rushford; Co-Chairman David Harper; Scott; Schier; Winnebago County Board Chairman Kris Cohn; Illinois State Representative Chuck Jefferson (D-67); Rockford Park District Executive Director Webbs Norman; U of I College of Medicine at Rockford, Assistant Dean Joel Cowen; Gift of Hope, Development Specialist Julie Steller-Tilbury; SwedishAmerican Hospital, Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Burton Moore; and Saint Anthony Medical Center, Director of Pastoral Care Father William Wentink.

Donations and applications may be sent to: Angela Rushford Children’s Organ Donation Fund, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, 946 N. Second St., Rockford, IL 61107. Make checks payable to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois with “Rushford Fund” in the memo. Credit card donations can be made at or call 815-962-2110, ext. 14.

In addition, you may learn more about organ and tissue donation at or call 1-800-545-4438.

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