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A Legacy to Preserve Hope

Jadyn Fred Foundation helps Montana families

Since 2003 the Jadyn Fred Foundation has provided 1,144 Montana families with more than one million dollars to help with the care of their sick children.

Jadyn Fred was three and a half years old when she was diagnosed with Pancreatoblastoma, an extremely rare form of cancer. This diagnosis required Jadyn and her parents, Alecia and Britt, to travel to Seattle Children’s Hospital for the next three years seeking treatment in the form of chemotherapy, radiation, and nine operations. Throughout her ordeal, Jadyn remained a strong and caring child. Jadyn’s grandfather and executive director of the foundation, Lynn Fred, says she’s never complained. 

“All the doctors loved her,” said Lynn.

Tragically, Jadyn did not survive her incredible battle. She passed away on March 23, 2001 leaving a huge hole in her family but in turn, inspired a dream to help other families as they go through the same ordeal.  

This dream took shape over several years as Jadyn and her family traveled to Seattle Children’s Hospital where they saw the toll this necessary travel placed on other families. Lynn Fred and his wife Sandee lived in Seattle so they could help support the Fred family on their many trips. 

But Lynn says, “Britt and Alecia noticed a lot of families that lived out of their car or trailer. And then there was a percentage that couldn’t even go to Seattle since it was too expensive. We found that there was always a child in Jadyn’s room that didn’t have a family there so we kind of adopted them.”

Seeing how hard it was on these families financially and emotionally led Britt and Alecia to establish the Jadyn Fred Foundation after Jadyn’s passing so they could help other families throughout Montana travel to children’s hospitals in Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City. 

“They wanted Jadyn to be remembered through helping other families,” said Lynn.  

When the foundation first started it focused solely on children with cancer but the family then began to realize there were children with other needs that could benefit from support. A tier system was started to award financial aid based on the various levels of care needed by a child. Tier 1 provides $1,759.00 in financial aid to families with children currently in cancer treatment. Tier 2 provides $1,078.00 to families with children that have life-threatening medical needs outside of cancer. Tier 3 provides $706.00 to families with children who have special needs that don’t require major medical care and have an almost 100% chance of survival. Examples would be a hole in the heart or minor surgery.   

Families that are looking for assistance can go the foundation’s website,, to complete an application.  A verification letter is also submitted that allows Lynn to talk to a child’s medical team to find out treatment schedules and necessary procedures at the hospital.  The applications then go to the foundation’s board of directors that consists of thirteen individuals including medical professionals. These members vote as to what tier level the child will receive. Families can continue to apply up to four years.  

The goal of the financial aid is mainly to cover mileage, lodging, and food. Parents and siblings that accompany the ill children often have to find their own lodging as space is limited at the hospital and support places like the Ronald McDonald House can be very hard to get into. Families might have to stay up to six weeks at a time while their child receives treatment.  

Courtney Imhoff, event manager for the foundation, explained the basis for the monetary gifts.  

“It’s meant so the families can take that money and utilize it for necessities because we don’t want them to have to worry about these things that moment. They just need to get that care for their kiddo. Having enough money for food or a hotel room shouldn’t be the things that they worry about. The foundation is meant to ease that burden.“

Lynn said that every family with a sick child goes through their own personal ordeal.

“Some people have no money at all. They don’t even have a checking account so in rare instances we have written checks directly to a motel.” 

Gas cards are also given out if needed but often the family simply receives a check that they can use for necessities.   

When asked how the foundation has evolved over the years, Courtney said the most noticeable aspect is the amount of families that have needed help has grown dramatically. In 2003, when the foundation first started, four children were helped. That number grew to 145 children in 2019. The pandemic has slowed the number of applications in the early months of 2020 but the foundation is now receiving between five to ten applications every week.  

“Sometimes the foundation is a little too modest,” said Courtney. “They have never turned away a family.”

Each Christmas the foundation also provides families with much needed joy and celebration at their annual Christmas party. The foundation finds sponsors who in turn “adopt” a family, buying presents not only for the ill children but also for their parents and siblings. Some sponsors have even purchased gift cards for a mom and dad night realizing that a child’s life-threatening illness is all consuming for a family. The event is catered by Famous Dave’s and includes attendance by the sponsors and foundation board members. It’s not only a time for individual families to come together but also a time for them to see that they are not going through this alone.

“All these people come in and suddenly notice there are other families like them in their situation. It makes for a very happy night,” said Lynn. “We’re told by families every year that Christmas wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the foundation because they can’t afford it. It’s making that tradition stay alive for that family.”

Unfortunately COVID-19 will have an impact in 2020 on the regular Christmas celebration but the foundation is hoping to provide 22 families this year with gift cards based on their tier levels.  

There are many ways in which Missoula community members can help the Jadyn Fred Foundation. Recurring and one-time monetary donations can be made through their website, You can also become a Christmas sponsor and participate in a time of joy for these struggling families. The Jadyn Fred Foundation dinner and auction is held each July at the Hilton Garden Inn where you can bid on auction items and then play a round at the golf scramble the next day at Larchmont. If you would rather donate your time, Lynn said the foundation is always looking for volunteers.  

If you would like to find out more about the vital support the Jadyn Fred Foundation provides to Montana families and how you can help visit their website at or call or email Lynn Fred at 406.370.2159 or