Campaign Story 

In 2008, Derek was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, a sometimes-relentless progressive disease of the mind. Derek has been battling this disease for 10 long years resulting in multiple hospital stays, being homeless on the street, multiple jail stays, lost jobs, and destroyed relationships.  He has had phases where he has shown great strength and in other times, struggled with his disease.

In early March, Derek felt he was losing control of his mind.....He had not slept for days, was very confused. He was in and out of reality; nothing new living with bipolar, then slipped into an exacerbated bipolar episode. During this episode he believed he was meant to be at his teenage home on Gravel Pond Road…a home he and our family have not lived in for 10 years. He drove as he had so many times to his old home and walked in an unlocked door. No one was home. Confused as to where he was or why, he rummaged around, his room was not his own, his sister’s room was not right, pictures on the wall were unfamiliar. He grabbed a drink and sat down to watch TV just as he had in the past, confused, no doubt. The Owners arrived home and noticed an unfamiliar car in their driveway.  They called the police…Derek was arrested.

 Derek is currently in jail facing serious charges. We are certain he is not always aware of why he is there, and we are sure he is frightened at times.  It is with much sadness to think of Derek now sitting in a cell, trapped within his mind.  This is not where he belongs.

Over the years our family has done all we can, following the advice of the professionals treating Derek. Now following recommendations, Derek has requested admission to the County’s Mental Health Court in hopes of being placed in a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facility. Derek’s disease can be managed with the right treatment and medications. A Dual Diagnosis Facility will do a complete and thorough examination to determine all of his illnesses. Our family believes that a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Facility is required if Derek is to get his life back on track. Derek desperately wants a normal life like everyone else. The Mental Health Court will supervise Derek’s progress over an extended period.  Without the Dual Diagnosis Treatment and extended supervision, Derek’s future is bleak.

Our family has endured 10 years of costs, not because of Derek, but because of Derek’s disease and its impact on his life. A Dual Diagnosis Facility is our only hope at this point and we are facing a long, expensive trip back to normality for Derek.  However, it is more than that; we are trying to SAVE HIS LIFE. We are looking for a treatment facility with Holistic Programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Bio Sound Feedback that is Mindfulness Based and Emotionally Focused.  A facility that will be as complete and thorough as possible, which most often requires Private Pay.

Derek has no medical insurance or sufficient income and cannot help himself. We have turned to this platform to ask for help with the costs of a treatment facility that is right for him and his medical bills.  We are hoping we can reach a goal of $50,000 to help with immediate and extended care treatment expenses. 

Your support is greatly appreciated.  No gesture is too small.  Funds in excess of Derek’s needs will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Organization to help others get the treatment they so desperately need! 

We are extremely grateful to all for your support, prayers and donations.  We wish all the best to you and yours.

If you are not comfortable with donating online, please feel free to contact me directly.

 Derek’s Story

For those that do not know Derek that well, he grew up in Clarks Summit, PA.  He was a sweet, charismatic kid, a brother that would always comfort and stick up for his sister.

Before being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, he was excited about his future.  Derek was an outstanding High School and Lehigh University Football running back, winning awards for both his athleticism and character.   He was Secretary for the Chi Psi Fraternity at Lehigh and graduated from the University in 2003. Derek went on to work in the financial sector and had his dream job with E*Trade Financial in Jersey City, NJ, where he worked his way up from Senior Financial Services Representative to Platinum Relationship Manager in just a few short years. While at E*Trade, Derek lived in Hoboken, NJ, where he gave back to his community by volunteering for Big Brothers & Sisters of NYC; Hoboken Homeless Shelter and Operation HOPE. He played flag football with his friends and enjoyed life in NYC. He was in the Prime of his Life with so much potential and big dreams!!  

Then in 2009, Derek lost his job at E*Trade as the result of a manic episode. His life started to unravel while he was living and dealing with manic episodes, confusion, delusions, anxiety, depression and feeling alone (most often the life of someone living with bipolar disorder). His demons got the best of him and it has been a downward spiral ever since.

Please share Derek’s story…

We have had a few people asking about sending a check rather than using the GoFundMe, If you'd like to give a donation directly to me by check, please contact me by clicking the email icon next to my name on the campaign, and I'll provide you with the information to send a check. Or contact Dior via email or text.

Thank you all for your generous donations!

Love, Derek's Family!

 If you would like to know more about individuals living with Bipolar Disorder…I have included a link to a very good article about BP and a link to the NAMI website. I have also included a link to Deacon Ed Shoener's daughter Katie’s obituary, who lived with bipolar. 

Derek and Dior at Lehigh - Post Game; Dior's wedding - 2008; Simpler life at the Beach (4 and 3 yrs of age); Derek's graduation - Abington Heights



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Debi Hewlett Saunders 
Clarks Summit, PA
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