REXFORD - Hannah's Hope Fund has done it.
The nonprofit organization - whose mission is to eradicate giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), an inherited neurological disorder - has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project. The highly-competitive grant is available on a monthly basis to qualifying organizations and is one Lori Sames, executive director of Hannah's Hope Fund, wasn't sure her organization would get.
"It's quite a miracle when you consider the other organizations we were up against and the huge following they had," said Sames, whose organization is named for her daughter, Hannah, who has the rare disorder.
Hannah's Hope Fund had been competing against 1,231 other submissions in their category for the Pepsi grant since Aug. 1, and was holding steady in the double-digit rankings until the second week of August. The organization began to rapidly move up the list, resting in the number four position until breaking into the top three in the final days of the month.
Sames attributes that to the hard push of Hannah's Hope Fund supporters in their eleventh hour.
"We had been going full-speed for the last two weeks," said the Beekmantown native. "It was nonstop, even going up to a complete stranger on their cell phone and asking if they'd send a text message vote for Hannah's Hope Fund."
In the final days of the competition, it was a tight three-way race between Hannah's Hope Fund and CureJM, another nonprofit trying to raise awareness of juvenile myositis, and the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, a nonprofit looking for a cure to a rare neurodevelopmental disorder.
On Aug. 31, Sames and Hannah's Hope Fund supporters invaded busy intersections in the Capital District handing out voting instructions and asking people to vote before the midnight deadline.
"It was insanity," said Sames.