Brandon Martin donates in memory of his father, Paul Martin

At the age of six, Brandon Martin experienced the challenge of having his father, Paul, as a hospice patient at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center. Unfortunately, Paul passed away from cancer shortly after the holidays, but amid this sorrowful time, he received the invaluable gift of compassionate care from the team at Saddleback Medical Center. The kindness of the nurses and doctors was the support Brandon and mother, Carlene Chiang, needed during this difficult time, and is a memory he carries with him today.

"I remember how happy I was to receive a Lego set from Suzanne during the holidays," says Martin. "Their kindness really impacted me and my mom during my father’s last days. Their generosity and love were what we needed to get us through."

Paul’s nurse, Suzanne Platt, RN, hospice care, MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, followed the family’s journey through the palliative care to hospice experience, doing her best to be a beacon of light during a dark time.

"Paul and his family had a strong, close relationship," says Platt. "Their story makes you stop and think about how short and precious life is, and how important it is for us to appreciate every day we are given."

Twelve years later while he was applying to colleges, Martin wanted to find a way to help other children experiencing what he experienced as a young child. Inspired by the kindness the care team at Saddleback Medical Center showed him, he created a GoFundMe to raise money for hospice families: Holiday Hopes.

"Holiday Hopes was created to support hospice families at Saddleback who are going through difficult times, especially during the holidays," says Martin. "We strive to create a sense of community and belonging for these families by providing gifts and raising funds to donate to them."

When Martin and his mother began to share their philanthropic efforts with friends and family, they never expected the impact it would have on so many. Word quickly spread, and what started as only a few donors grew into an abundance of generosity. They were able to donate $2,000 to the MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Foundation to help hospice families in their times of need.

“The money we received from Holiday Hopes has already been used to help provide gifts and fun activities to hospice families at our hospital and will be used to help many more in the future,” says Chisty Ward, president, MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Foundation. “To commemorate Brandon’s generosity and remember his father’s legacy, we have honored them in our Tree of Light Book of Remembrance, an online tribute page where donors recognize their loved ones, as well as caregivers, clinicians and other remarkable people who have touched their lives here at Saddleback.”

Martin and his mother hope to continue these philanthropic efforts every year, offering hope and solace to hospice families who are facing their toughest times.

“It’s amazing to see how much support we’ve gotten from the community,” says Chiang. “We’re happy to continue raising money to help other families going through the same tough times we experienced.”

Brandon is planning to be a pre-med major to provide quality care like his father received when he was a patient at Saddleback Medical Center.

“I’m excited to begin my medical journey so I can give back in that aspect as well,” says Martin. “I hope to be as helpful and supportive as the care team for my father was when I was young.”

If you’d like to donate to Brandon’s GoFundMe, click here.