Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Help Me Howard: A look back on 2007
As we sit here on this Christmas Eve we all have a lot to be thankful for and tomorrow we get to make a lot of people happy. One group tries to do that every day and, as they joke once in awhile, they get one right. Let's watch Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When we first met Diana, well, actually, we never got to meet her. She was stationed in Iraq.
Soldier: "She's a very, very caring young lady."
Very caring and very lonely, which is why her parents went on Help Me Howard to ask all her friends to send her letters.
Diana is now home from Iraq for two weeks. Time to see all her friends and show us the mound of letters you sent her.
Diana Rosero: "He told me, 'Hey, you should be receiving mail,' I was like 'Oh, OK' and, like two days later, I get like 10 letters. The next day I get like 15 letters, and they're like, 'Rosero, you have a lot of mail today.'"
When you go back to Iraq, Diana, be safe and keep enjoying the letters from South Floridians.
Diana Rosero: "I read all of them. They were awesome letters, a lot of support, so it was great."
Carlos Palenzuela: "Does everything like a normal kid, which he is: normal."
Carlos called us when the aftercare program at his son's school refused to give Gianni his badly needed insulin shots. We got the school board involved, and the company agreed to hire someone to give the shots. Carlos is relieved.
Carlos Palenzuela: "Thanks to Help Me Howard, it got settled with the aftercare program."
Carlos Palenzuela: "Gianni is super happy because, for the first time, he is actually thinking about the summer just to be able to go to summer camp."
Carlos was smiling. Silvia was jumping for joy.
When she couldn't get the tickets for her daughter to a Hannah Montana concert like she promised, she asked us to help. We got them for her.
Silvia Nadal: "Thank you, Channel 7."
But even better, the National Ticket Brokers Association saw our story and gave us six more tickets to the concert. We gave them to the Make A Wish Foundation. The kids couldn't believe it.
Sometimes we create smiles, sometimes we save cash.
Jessica's cat Freeway is tough, so tough when he bit a tech at the vet's office, their insurance company hit Jessica with an $11,000 bill.
Jessica Barecich: "I was terrified."
Until we explained to the insurance company that under Florida law you don't have to pay if your cat bites someone, they quit harassing Jessica for the $11,000. Freeway is free.
Teresa Branch: "I just can't believe a tank is under the house."
Teresa was shocked to find a 50-year-old kerosene tank buried in her yard and stunned when Miami-Dade's Department of Environmental Resource Management demanded she spend $8,000 to clean it all up.
Teresa Branch: "I am still just kind of floored by it."
Then the guys at Hydrologic Associates saw our story. They dug up the tank and cleaned everything up for free.
Jim Miller: "Sometimes you have to give back to the community."
From removing a tank to coming from the tank.
Paola was arrested by Coral Gables Police after she refused to pay for a large order of lentils when she only ordered a small order. We thought the arrest was silly. A judge agreed and then dropped the charges.
Alfred was grateful too. Trees were towering over his trailer and growing up beside it.
Alfred White: "Sooner or later they are going to raise the trailer up."
The landlord refused to cut them down. We explained the law to them. They got out their chainsaws, and Alfred got what he wanted.
Alfred White: "They were real good, and the outfit that did it really did a hell of a job. Do you remember the size of the trees?"
Sometimes people have to be forced to do the right thing. Not in Arlene's case.
Arlene Lopez: "It's like having an infant forever."
Gloria has a neurological disorder. To help her, Arlene's friends bought her a bath chair, so she could bathe Gloria more easily.
Arlene Lopez: "I cried like a baby when I got there."
But the chair was for an adult, too big for Gloria, and the company would not take it back. Then we contacted Bizchair.com. Not only did they give Arlene a new chair, they told her to find someone who needed the other chair. She did and we delivered it to Alex.
Patrick Fraser: "Bringing a smile to peoples' faces year-round makes coming to work fun, and people often ask Howard and I what is the best or worst or most difficult or most unusual Help Me Howard. That's hard to answer, but the most important is easy, it's Margaret Daigle."
Margaret Daigle: "I knew my chances of living was getting slimmer."
In June of 2000 Margaret lived in Broward. In that county, if you were indigent and needed a $300,000 organ transplant, you just died.
Margaret called Help Me Howard and asked us to help her save her life. We were told it was impossible but no one ever called us smart, so we went to work.
For months we worked the system, called everyone we knew. Then, thanks to the help of too many people to name, we got lucky.
In 2002, Jackson Memorial Hospital agreed to give Margaret the $300,000 liver transplant for free.
Margaret Daigle: "Let's get it over, so, like Patrick said, I can get on with my life."
After the operation we took Margaret home in a limo. She told me she had never been in one before. That day she asked me what she could ever do to thank me, I said just bake a coconut cake like my late mother used to do for my birthday.
And every few months I get a visit from Margaret, healthy as a horse and rolling in with a kiss and my cake.
Margaret Daigle: "I feel terrific. I am very lucky. I know that because I am going into my sixth year."
In parts thanks to the Margaret case, today, if you live in Broward and don't have insurance, you are not doomed to die, you can get an organ transplant.
Patrick Fraser: "It started with a phone call to Help Me Howard, and, thanks to that life-saving transplant, it has not ended for Margaret. She's happy. We're happy, and happy holidays to you as well."
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