11/05/2007 06:46 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Benefits of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation

We are lucky, in America, to have some of the finest
institutions in their field, in the world. Among our many fine
institutions are the world-class Children's Hospitals that exist in
cities. But, for all the great work they do, they cannot do everything.

One amazing charity is helping Children's Hospitals fill the gaps,
while also providing direct
support to parents. The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation enables
single parents of children with life-threatening illnesses to care for
children fulltime by relieving financial burdens when other resources
exhausted or unavailable.

Statistics shows that roughly eight in ten couples separate
or divorce once it is determined that their child suffers a
life-threatening or
catastrophic chronic illness. Almost always, mothers become the single
care-givers. Think about that. For every 100 children with a
catastrophic illness, about 78 mothers will get divorced and care for
child alone.

This puts single mothers in a horrific, nightmarish
predicament. If they choose not to work, so they can care for their
child, they will simply not have enough income to pay even the simplest
bills. If they do work, they face the prospect of not being there for
their son or daughter in their most trying times. Many won't be there
and when their child succumbs to their disease.

The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation was formed by an
extraordinary woman, Valerie Sobel, who knows the pain parents with sick
children endure. Her son, Andre, for whom the charity is named, died
a brain tumor. Within a year, her husband took his own life.

While Valerie could have shrunk from the world, and no one
would have blamed her, she committed herself to using her experience as
motivation to help others, staring the Foundation.

Here's a typical case they've
handled. A 17-year-old diagnosed 2 years ago with leukemia. The mom
is single with one other child, and the father is not paying child
support. The child's treatment is complicated necessitating
experimental treatments. The mother was also recently diagnosed with
cancer and is unable to work. The family is experiencing great
and financial stress. To date, the Foundation has given this woman
$3000 to help with her housing, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and
household expenses. And they will continue to be there, for her.

Right now, the foundation is providing endowments to many of
the Children's Hospitals, which those hospitals match. These funds are
used to provide payments for rent, mortgages, utilities, car and health
insurance and other urgent financial needs that can so stress a single
family when the child is sick. In this way, the River of Life
helps undo the need for many single parents to choose between work and
severely ill child.

This work is replicated around the country, by the
foundation. Through partnership with other hospitals, and through
assistance to single parents, Valerie Sobel has touched the lives of
of single parents who thought hope was lost. In most cases, aid is
within 24 hours - an extraordinary feat, which makes this such a special

These sorts of amazing ventures take two things - a
committed, visionary, and selfless leader, and the financial help from
as many
of us as possible. The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation most
certainly has the former. The latter, though, is up to all of us.

For more information, and to donate to the Andre Sobel River
of Life Foundation, visit