A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Mary Martinez

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Mary Martinez
By: Sam Malkowski Last Updated: August 10, 2016

Mary Martinez is a nurse, a mother, and an active member of her community. Her family has been through a tragedy yet has made something amazing out of it. It is her dedication to the Hannah’s Hope Foundation that earned her this week’s Spotlight.

Hannah’s Hope is a nonprofit organization that raises money for the support of disabled children. Parents who are struggling with the costs of braces, wheelchairs, or other things their child desperately needs can come to Hannah’s Hope for assistance.

“You don’t think about the struggles of special needs until you’re in the situation,” said Mary. “When you’re in the family of a child with special needs, you’re already so focused on worrying. It’s stressful.”

She wants to help alleviate that stress, even if it’s only a little.

Mary’s daughter Hannah was born in June 2009. She was the middle child among three girls, all born on the 18th of different months.

The September after her birth, Hannah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors suspect she had a prenatal stroke that affected her development in and out of the womb. Hannah passed away in 2012, at just three years old.

“Hannah definitely had her purpose. You don’t realize what it takes until you’ve been through it- Hannah brought that awareness to us.”

A month after her death, Mary’s husband decided to host a golf outing to raise money in Hannah’s memory. It was the beginning of a legacy for their little girl.

So far, Hannah’s Hope has raised $250,000 dollars. They support groups like 1st Steps and Jacob’s Ladder, the later of which they have donated money to in an effort to fulfill the organization’s dream of getting a therapy pool. Hannah’s Hope’s dream is to build a handicapped accessible park in Portage. So far they have 67000 of their $100000 goal.

“Hannah has been our motivation. I’d go to the park and have to hold her in the swing.”

Even playgrounds at the Portage schools are not accessible to children with special needs. Maybe the Hannah’s Hope Foundation park will bring awareness to the inadequacy.

Mary’s job as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit gives her another perspective on the importance of what Hannah’s Hope is doing. She continues to see the need for it on her ward.

Mary is a three year veteran of Porter Memorial Hospital. Before that, she worked in the NICU at NorthWestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Mary received her Nursing degree from the University of Evansville after graduating from Portage High School in 1998. Her high school had a program that allowed her to earn a Nursing Assistant Certification.

Being a nurse was something that she knew she always wanted to do. University of Evansville was perfect, because the classes were small enough to get personal attention. Mary could build relationships with other students.

Her hometown of Portage may need a little work in the accessible park area, but it is still her home. “We are a small town but close to a big city, Chicago. I like that you can get that city feel but live the quiet life.”

With the hard work of Hannah’s Hope, the families of NorthWest Indiana will get to live a little easier. Last year they spent $19,000 on equipment, assisted 73 families, and began searching for a place to build their park. They hope to raise even more funds this year. Right now they have a cap of $500 in assistance per family, so that they can help more people instead of having to turn some away.

“We wanted to help everyone,” Mary said. “We can’t do it all.”

Soon, with help from the community and continued dedication from Mary Martinez and her family, they will be able to help everyone.