This weekend is the 9th annual Grahamtastic 5k Run & Walk in Springvale, ME. The Grahamtastic Connection is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing technology to children with cancer and other serious illnesses. As a sponsor of the 5k and a supporter of the Grahamtastic mission, OTELCO wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight this admirable non-profit.
The Graham in Grahamtastic
Grahamtastic was started by Leslie Morissette, in honor of her late son Graham. Graham was bright and kind; he loved creating art, writing recipes, and spending time on the computer. His mother remembers him as being a sweet boy who was “very ahead of his time.”
In 1995, Graham was diagnosed with leukemia. Leslie would spend months with her son in the hospital and would see how disconnected he felt from the outside world. Through technology, he was able to connect with the people and things he loved, but at the time, hospitals were not set up to accommodate private patient computers.
When Graham lost his battle to cancer in 1997, Leslie was inspired to help children like him feel less detached from the people and places they loved. “Knowing how isolated Graham was in the hospital and how hard it was to get him on the Internet, I vowed to make a difference, not knowing that Grahamtastic would be what it is today.”
Making a Connection
To date, the Grahamtastic Connection has helped over 2,000 children access technology and Internet services throughout their treatment process. In 2017, Leslie was a Top 10 CNN Hero. The national attention caused Grahamtastic to grow by 30%. Now, they are helping 200 kids, ages 4-18, a year.
“Our main focus is education,” remarks Leslie “we work with social workers, doctors, and nurses and we ask, ‘what is the best computer for [the child’s] education.’” From there, Kathy Tranchemontagne, the Grahamtastic Program Director, will work to purchase the technology and coordinate with whoever reached out on the child’s behalf to deliver it. The organization focuses on Laptops and iPads, usually new, but sometimes refurbished.
Kathy also works with Internet service providers to help families pay for Internet access during their child’s illness.
Leslie and Kathy make up the entirety of the Grahamtastic staff along with 75+ volunteers. Their office is in Springvale, ME, which is part of the reason the Connection focuses mainly on the Northeast. The company has helped children all over the country, though, and according to Kathy, they have supported kids in at least “40 of the fifty states.”
How You Can Help
As a company that cares deeply about digital literacy and broadband accessibility, Grahamtastic is a cause we are happy to support. This year, through the non-profit, OTELCO is helping a family with their Internet as their child works through a serious illness. We are glad to help and encourage our readers to do the same. You can donate to Grahamtastic online or sign up for their 5k on October 20th. All proceeds will go toward providing free technology to ill children so that they can stay connected with their friends and continue their education despite their illness.