Hammar Fund donation to local charity ensures epileptics get free safety pillows
For individuals and families of those afflicted with epilepsy, there’s always concern when it comes to sleep.
The group Ribbons for Kellsey, aided by a donation from the Hammar Family, has set a goal to make sure seizure pillows are available to those who need them.
The Hammar family, including brothers Thomas and Richard and their mother, Betty, donated $10,000 to Ribbons for Kellsey about a year ago to ensure that anyone in the area needing a pillow can get one for free.
The John C. Hammar Pillow Fund was established in memory of Thomas and Richard’s brother, who died in 1967 after having a grand mal seizure in his sleep and suffocating. He was 17 years old.
“He had his whole future ahead of him. He was just a wonderful individual,” Thomas Hammar said about his brother.
Hammar became involved with Ribbons for Kellsey after he worked to help the group obtain it 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status, Jennifer Holliday, executive director of Ribbons for Kellsey, said.
“What better way to use resources so somebody doesn’t have to go through this,” Hammar said.
The group was founded by Brandi McGuire for her daughter, Kellsey, who has epilepsy. Hammar said after working with McGuire that he decided to help set up a fund for the pillows.
“We’ll replenish it as it gets used and buy new ones,” Hammar said.
The seizure pillows are made in the United Kingdom. According to the manufacturer’s website, the Sleep Safe anti-suffocation pillow is a micro-mesh pillow that you can see through and breathe through. It is also made without dyes that can cause allergies that may trigger a seizure.
Hammar said that while he can’t speak to the science behind the pillow, he just knows how special they are.
“I’m sure my brother would have had a much higher possibility of surviving his seizure if he had one of those.”
Holliday said the pillows, after all taxes and duties are included, cost about $150.
“We do not ever -- never once -- ever charge to give our pillows to people living with epilepsy,” Holliday said.
Prior to the Hammar Family’s donation, Ribbons for Kellsey held fundraisers to go toward purchasing the pillows.
Holliday said the organization has given away pillows to more than 100 people, mostly in the Quad Cities area. She said some pillows have been given out through a program at the University of Iowa that informs folks about the availability of the pillows.
Anyone who reaches out can get a pillow if they have epilepsy, Holliday said.
Holliday said Hammar has helped many people who are suffering from epilepsy and seizures.
“I just love giving away these things,” Hammar said.