Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 18:54 PM.
Thirty-eight states, 11,500 miles and 53 days later, Jeanine Patten-Coble drove her decal-clad car through an arch of balloons Wednesday afternoon at the end of her cross-country tour.
Patten-Coble, founder of Little Pink Houses of Hope, a Burlington-based national nonprofit that provides free vacation retreats for cancer patients, survivors and their families, set out on the trip to raise money for the organization. Her goal was to bring back $30,000 for the charity, but it was announced Wednesday that donors around the country had given $67,000.
“Little Pink, from the very beginning, has been an organization about embracing people with God’s love,” Patten-Coble said after arriving at the finish line celebration at Westcott Buick GMC. “This has been 53 days where I felt like people have been doing that right back to our organization.”
Patten-Coble said she traveled around to fundraising events hosted by alumni and volunteers from previous LPHOH retreats. The organization has been holding the retreats, now on both coasts and in 14 different locations, for four years.
The car she drove during the journey was donated by Westcott Buick GMC, whose vice president, Greg Westcott, is chairman of the LPHOH board.
Westcott said he previously participated in a “Dancing with the Stars” fundraiser for the organization, and from there became more involved, taking the position of board chair at the beginning of 2013.
Patten-Coble said over the course of the trip, “hundreds and hundreds of people took their picture with the car.”
The idea for a cross-country fundraising trip came to Patten-Coble as she was driving home from a retreat last summer.
“I thought, we have so many (LPHOH) families around the country, I could probably stay anywhere I wanted and not have to have a hotel,” she said.
Once she started hearing from families around the country who had been affected by the retreats and wanted to host fundraising events themselves, she planned the tour, which began June 9 and included both large and small cities.
Since houses and food on the retreats are donated, the costs for the week-long trips come out to be about $560 per family.
Patten-Coble said hospitals around the country include materials on the organization in resource packets given out to cancer patients, and other families find out about LPHOH by word-of-mouth or online.
“The cancer community is very, very tight,” she said of the organization’s means to find support all over the country.
“God moves faster in a community than any marketing campaign you can imagine,” Patten-Coble said. “We leverage the resources of people in communities and give it away to people struggling.”
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