In making our film, we hoped audiences would be moved to empathy - not only for the three families in our film, but for the many low-income families like them who are struggling to make ends meet across rural America. Now, however, we are asking specifically for your support of Harley in his great time of need.
The results of Harley's MRI just a few weeks ago came as a tremendous shock. Harley has a brain tumor, which is why his foot turns, his left-arm gives him trouble, and his smile is kind of crooked. Soon after learning the news, Harley's Grandma Betty lost her job - laid off because she had taken too much time off to be with Harley in the hospital.
At this moment, Harley and his family are facing mounting medical costs around treatment and diagnosis. Harley needs a second option - but we don't yet know whether Missouri Medicaid will pay for additional tests.
Many audience members ask how they can help. Here's how: we are hoping to raise enough funds so that Harley and his Grandma are able to travel to Boston, Massachusetts and undergo the additional tests he needs, before facing likely chemotherapy and brain surgery. This is the first, vital step for Harley and his family to make the most informed choice around his care and future. It would be tough for anyone to manage these unexpected costs - but particularly for Harley and his family, who are barely getting by.
Harley is still the great young man who so bravely shared his life in our documentary, RICH HILL. He is out of school now - with support, when he pulls through, he may be able to pursue his GED. For now, he's facing his life-threatening diagnosis - taking life day-by-day and being a 16-year-old kid (who turns 17 on April 12th). He still cracks jokes and loves to show off his knife collection. Thanks to the hard work of the Bates County Prosecutor's Office and Victim's Rights Advocate, Harley was able to have a 2-hour visit with his mom, Joann, in the Chillicothe Correctional Facility this past Monday. Also, there is a wonderful lawyer from one of our early screenings who is working on Joann's appearance before the parole board this July.
Harley loves to meet audiences, to answer questions and work a room. He'll be happy to sign your autograph and pose for a picture. I recently asked Grandma Betty how she thought being in the film had been for Harley, and she said it had been a good thing. I asked, "Why?" And she said, "For the first time, these boys feel like they belong." Thank you for anything you can do to help Harley during this time. He's just one kid from a small town off the highway. But despite his challenges and circumstances, he's a kid that matters and belongs. We are grateful to you, our audiences, for being the community that surrounds him during his hard time.
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