‘Without Samuel’s Supper, We Would Have Lost Everything’

LIAM RICHARDS and his parents Phillip and Eliza Richards

LIAM RICHARDS and his parents Phillip and Eliza Richards were among the beneficiaries of financial support from the Samuel’s Supper organization over the past year. Liam, who had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, died this past March.

Nonprofit Shares Family’s Story

Samuel’s Supper, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides short-term financial support to families who have a child facing a life-threatening medical crisis, has spent the past year assisting 10 families in and around Rockbridge County.

Over $11,800 in aid has been distributed by Samuel’s Supper to families since November 2018. As the organizers begin their annual fundraising campaign this month, they shared the story of the Richards family, who received support earlier this year.

When Liam Richards was diagnosed with very high-risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on his third birthday on Aug. 25, 2018, his parents, Eliza and Phillip, thought nothing could be worse.

“As a parent all you ever want is your child to grow up happy and healthy,” said Eliza. “Hearing the words ‘your child has cancer’ is just devastating. We had to sign consents for treatments we had never even heard of. Not knowing what tomorrow or the next day would bring was scary.”

While Liam’s family focused on making sure Liam got to and from the hospital for appointments and then spent weeks at a time at the University of Virginia for treatments and other emergencies, bills began to pile up.

“Cancer is no joke; it’s hard on every single family member,” said Eliza. “We were so exhausted because we couldn’t sleep at night. We would sit by him just to make sure he was okay, worrying about everything. Not only did we have to worry about him, but the bills don’t stop when your child is diagnosed. It was a very stressful time on all parts. Not knowing if you’re gonna have enough money to afford the medications or the bills. ‘Will we lose everything?’ was a question I asked myself daily. You just feel helpless.”

When Samuel’s Supper learned from Elaine Finley, at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital in Charlottesville that Liam’s family needed immediate financial help, the organization promptly supported the family by making direct payments for their most critical needs.

“There were times before Liam was diagnosed that I questioned whether there were still good people out there or not,” said Eliza. “I found out there were. We had so many people offer help to us. They sent gifts to Liam to make his hospital days more enjoyable. We received some financial help from others, but without help from Samuel’s Supper, we really would have lost everything. I am so grateful that they were brought into our lives.”

Heartbreakingly, Liam died on March 25, 2019.

“In those moments it was like we were drowning and just couldn’t come up for air,” said Eliza. “We had so many emotions that poured over us ... we are heartbroken and will forever be that way. As his parents, we will never stop fighting for him. We will do everything that we can do to raise awareness in memory of our sweet Liam and all of the other children that have been taken entirely too soon. Our children deserve better treatments, new medications and a cure.”

Samuel’s Supper surrounds families with love, hope and financial support during their child’s critical illness, said a spokeswoman.

Tax-deductible donations to the organization can be made online at www.samuelssupper.org, or mailed to Samuel’s Supper, P.O. Box 132, Fairfield, VA 24435.