Hope from Helen is a 501(c) 3 non-profit charity that supports local and global organizations dedicated to health, education, animal welfare, the environment, and individuals and families in need. It all started in 2005, when Helen Butler, mother of Tony Butler of Sweetwater and wblivesurf.com and Ron Butler of eilivesurf.com and ablivesurf.com, was diagnosed with stage-3 lung cancer. To add to the situation, she had no health insurance to pay for looming hospital bills for chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and doctor visits. So the local surfing community joined together help the Butlers raise funds for Helen’s medical treatment. The initial effort was called Hope for Helen and consisted of yard sales, restaurant proceeds, band fundraisers, individual donations, and the first annual Hope for Helen Surf Silent Auction. This effort raised over $58,000.
Helen fought a courageous and exhausting battle with lung cancer before also being diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite it all, she responded to treatments and was winning the battle against both cancers. A seemingly routine surgery to correct damage to her esophagus which had been damaged from the radiation treatments, would begin her downward spiral. Complications from this surgery would cause her to contract pneumonia, which ultimately took her life on October 25, 2006.
Before she passed, Tony spoke of his idea to change the name of the organization from Hope for Helen to Hope from Helen to help give back to other people in the way the community had supported and given to them. Hope from Helen would support charities that were close to our hearts. Helen loved this idea and summed up her support for the change by saying, “That’s awesome!”
Since 2005, the Hope from Helen Surf Silent Auction and other events raised over $1,000,000 to benefit great causes such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), American Cancer Society, PAWS Place, New Hanover Humane Society, Adopt-an-Angel, Surf Aid, Life Rolls On, Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Healing, Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter, The North Carolina Land Trust, The Sunburst Foundation, Southport Oak Island Animal Rescue, Surfrider Foundation, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project, Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hosptial, The Pink Ribbon Project, The Lower Cape Fear Hospice, and countless other worthy charities along with families in need.