That night, Hannah's Hope Fund had slipped to number three. Considering only the top two projects in their category would receive funding, calls went out across the country to get people to place last-minute votes.
"Everyone immediately started calling their West Coast contacts trying to rally and get more people to vote," said Sames. "It was a full-court press."
When Sames and her husband, Matt, a Plattsburgh native, went to bed that night, the outcome of the competition was unclear.
The next day, however, Sames said she woke to see the word "finalist" on the Hannah's Hope Fund page for Pepsi Refresh Everything, later learning the organization had ranked number two in the end.
"When we went to sleep, the last thing I said to my husband was that you never know what tomorrow brings," she said. "I had this feeling in my gut that we would have good news in the morning."
"It was a miracle indicative of the miracle we're going to pull off for these kids," Sames added.
Hannah's Hope Fund will now put the Pepsi Refresh Everything money toward clinical human trials of gene therapy to correct GAN. The overall cost of the trials is estimated at $1.3 million.
"We thank the North Country from the bottom of our hearts," said Sames. "The help of the entire North Country, the entire Capital District, everyone, is what made this happen."
For more information about Hannah's Hope Fund or how to help, visit www.hannahshopefund.org.