DJ's Hope 4 Hearts was founded in 2012 to honor the memory of its namesake, DJ Merriman. DJ's heart was damaged by a virus when he was an infant, and from the time he was 17 months old, he was dependent on a pacemaker to keep his heart pumping. DJ was a well-loved young man who tried to make a difference in the lives of others, always helping anyone who was in need. His gestures of kindness could be as simple as a smile, or as grand as raising money for his favorite hospital's "Radiothon" fundraiser.
In January 2012, 17-year-old DJ passed away in his sleep from cardiomyopathy, also known as an enlarged heart. He took with him the hearts of many, but inspired those of us left behind to make a difference in the lives of others.
DJ's Hope 4 Hearts was established to follow DJ's lead of helping others and assisting families who are touched by childhood heart diseases.
When a child becomes sick, it is a life changing event for the entire family. Beyond the stress of an ill child, parents face additional worries to include medical and medication costs, negotiating time off of work, and finding childcare for siblings. Even families with insurance often have significant financial obligations since even the best insurance may not cover all costs.
For example, some illnesses require lifelong medication, which may only be partially covered. Additionally, there are costs associated with daily trips to the hospital (including food, and sometimes overnight lodging). Frankly, it can be overwhelming, as all of these costs add up, while a parent is just trying to ensure the best care for their ill child.
DJ's Hope 4 Hearts has a two-fold mission. We seek to become an educational resource for children and their families on the signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy and other deadly heart diseases, as well as provide financial support to families dealing with heart diseases. Financial support falls into two categories. The first category is for the children. Our gifts might include a gift certificate for the child to go shopping or tickets to a ball game, so they can forget about being sick for a while. In the future, we hope to create a scholarship program to assist the kids with pursuing their education. The second category is for the parents. DJ's Hope 4 Hearts provides assistance to parents facing financial hardships due to their child's illness to help cover costs such as medical expenses, family lodging near medical facilities, or medication.
Sadly, some children lose their fight and parents are faced with significant funeral costs. Parents often do not have the resources set aside for funerals, as no parent expects to bury their child. We provide assistance in these instances as well. If you need help, or know someone who does, pleaseto see more information about this service. You can also click the link above on the webpage for more information.
DJ's Hope 4 Hearts vision is to help children and families when these life changing events take place and to provide assistance to as many children and families as possible. Our organization is 100% volunteer run, with minimal overhead. Nearly every penny of every dollar raised goes directly to a child or family in need.
Please consider supporting us to let the families know they are not forgotten in their toughest hour and to honor the memory of a wonderful and inspirational young man. We welcome generosity in any form: cash, checks, gift cards, event tickets and other donations that people wish to share in support of our hope for help!
DJ's Hope 4 Hearts has already made a positive impact on the lives of numerous children and their families. We are buoyed and energized to continue to grow our organization by the difference we have made so far. Click the heart below to donate.
On the Saturday prior to his death, DJ noticed an elderly woman standing in the checkout line in front of him at a Giant Eagle store. The woman didn't have enough money to pay for her groceries and in a typical generous gesture he provided the lacking funds. "That's just the way he was," Merriman said.
Our YouTube channel features videos about DJ's Hope 4 Hearts and DJ.