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The Montana Hope Project Grants The Wish Of Jorden Bialorucki, Raises Awareness In Eastern Montana

 

Jorden Bialorucki swam with the dolphins during her 2013 trip to Hawaii, a wish made possible by the Montana Hope Project.

By Meagan Dotson

The Montana Hope Project, sponsored by the Association of Montana Troopers, has been reaching out to children with life-changing medical conditions since 1984 when a few highway patrolmen decided to take a couple of critically ill kids and their families through Glacier Park. Borrowing a van and personally funding the trip, they unknowingly founded an organization that would change the lives of Montana kids for generations.

Sixteen year old Jorden Bialorucki of Glendive, is one of those kids. In the summer of 2013, Bialorucki and her mother Joleen, father Craig, and brother Raiden went to the Big Island of Hawaii and spent a week swimming, playing in the hotel lagoon, taking submarine rides, and swimming with dolphins. Bialorucki was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2011 which required extensive medical treatment at Children's Hospital in Aurora, CO and the Billings Clinic in Billings, MT. The Bialorucki family often had to drive to Billings weekly and Jorden Bialorucki missed a lot of school that first year, doing most of her work at home with the support of the Deer Creek School.

The Montana Hope Project and the Bialorucki family connected through Joleen Bialoruck's aunt who had helped with fundraising for the non-profit organization. It wasn't long before plans were underway to make the trip-of-a-lifetime happen.

"I had a hard time choosing between swimming with dolphins and going to Maine to eat fresh Lobster," Jorden Bialorucki admitted, but ultimately Hawaii won out.

The family got to see amazing ocean life like sea turtles and a manna-ray and recall how there were lots of goats and donkeys on the island. They described that the land itself looked a lot like the badlands here in Montana.

"It was different and exciting," Jorden Bialorucki said of the experience.

The family also attended the 2014 summer reunion in Essex Montana near Glacier National Park where there were both Montana Highway Patrolmen and Canadian Royal Mounted Police helping with the festivities. The Bialoruckis got to go on boat rides and fly in a helicopter all while meeting other families that have been impacted by the Montana Hope Project.

"Everyone we've met has been awesome," said Joleen Bialorucki.

"It's such a great program; everyone in the state should know about it," added Craig Bialorucki.

That is exactly what Dave Evans, Coordinator for Eastern Montana and the Ride for Hope is trying to do: get the word out. Evans become involved with the project in 2005, and in 2012 when they needed an area coordinator, he volunteered. He quickly noticed that most of the families involved were from the western half of the state and is making an effort to increase awareness of the program east of Billings.

"I know that there are kids on this side of the state that qualify and deserve to have a wish granted," said Evans, a retired patrolman. "Parents that work with the project want something special for their families. Each wish is really a week about family."

In 2014, 29 wishes were granted including several trips to Disney World, a shopping spree, and a pop-up camper to name a few. Each wish costs between $6,000 and $6,500 and fundraisers include ATV rides, car shows and the Magicians of Montana. However, the main fundraising event is the Ride for Hope, an annual motorcycle ride where riders receive pledges from businesses and individuals and ride about 500 miles round trip. This raises anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 dollars a year for the Montana Hope Project. Families are also invited to two reunions, one the first weekend in June held in Essex Montana and the second is held the first weekend in December at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

"Families build strong relationships with each other," commented Evans. "It's built in support."

Jorden Bialorucki (L) and her brother Raiden (R).

Anyone in the state can be involved and can go online at montanahope.org to find their area coordinator.

For anyone who knows a child who would be eligible for having a wish granted, they can contact the Montana Hope Project through their website, montanahope.org, or by phone, 406-949-7433. The application process is simple, but does require a medical referral for review.

Jorden Bialorucki, who received the last of her three year treatment in August of 2014, and the Bialorucki family looks forward to attending reunions in the future.

Joleen Bialorucki adds, "It's great that they help kids here in Montana; it's local support from local organizations."

 

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