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Libby’s Friends Provides Support for Families With Special Needs Children

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In 2023, Libby’s Friends distributed 241 grants across the state and raised $422,000 with hopes to achieve more to help special needs kids and adults. (Libby's Friends, Facebook Page)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

Libby’s Friends, a nonprofit that assists families with a child who has a disability, has won its share for accolades for great work including “Best Local Cause” twice and “Family of the Year” once, but Lane Hagan, who serves as Executive Director of the group, said there’s more.

“I do this because I want to help. I want to help special needs kids and adults that need it,” Hagan said. “I’ve been Libby’s dad for almost 10 years now and I’ve learned a lot and seen a lot of things that the system does not do well. I wanted to figure out a way to financially support these families that really need it.”

In 2023, Libby’s Friends distributed 241 grants across the state and raised $422,000 with hopes to achieve more. “Most were Birmingham heavy, but we do work statewide. It set us up nicely for this year and I’m hoping that we can do a little bit more than last year,” said Hagan.

On May 1 at 5 p.m. Libby’s Friends Giveback Night will be held at Milo’s in Cahaba Heights in Vestavia Hills. He hopes to raise $500,000 and award 250 grants in 2024.

“We’ve started out really strong. We’ve given out 115 grants so I’m well on my way to hitting that 250 for where I’d like to be for fundraising for the year,” he said. “Alabama has 67 counties. There are 29 counties that we have not been able to impact yet.”

Lane and Kathryn Hagan with their children, Libby (9), Drew (8), Grace (6), and Ann Curtis (2). (Libby’s Friends, Facebook Page)

In June of 2014, when she was 12 days old, Libby Hagan received an overdose of insulin in the neonatal intensive care unit of a Birmingham hospital that caused severe brain damage and left her a quadriplegic. Doctors told Libby’s parents, Lane, and Kathryn Hagan, that she would only survive a few months.

Today Libby is 9 years old. Despite beating the odds, Libby is wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on her parents. Raising a child with special needs is expensive. Lane’s dedication to his own daughter fostered the desire to help families who may be experiencing the same thing.

“My focus is on reaching those areas that we haven’t been able to hit by the end of the year. Just thinking about that and making sure that we are impacting the entire state is something that’s kind of on my mind right now. I want to reach more,” he said.

The group was founded in August 2020 during the pandemic. “Obviously it wasn’t an ideal time,” Lane said. “Everything started slowly but it’s continued, and we are getting ready to celebrate out 4th Anniversary in August.

“2020 through ’21 we were just really kind of getting in our groove, and then in ’22 I feel like we started getting the word out about the foundation and what we’re doing. It really started to catch fire and around last year was probably better than I could have ever expected,” said Lane.

After outlining his goals Lane said he began to hit milestones. “We’ve been able to do a lot of good things for the special needs community and provide a lot of support to a lot of kids throughout the state,” he said. “I thought year five would be our big mark. I believed we could give out 100 or more grants. That was my target.”

In 2023 and 2024, Libby’s Friends was voted “Best Local Cause” by Vestavia Hills Magazine and again this year and “Family of the Year” at the Alabama Disability Conference in 2023.

On May 1 at 5 p.m. Libby’s Friends Giveback Night will be held at Milo’s in Cahaba Heights in Vestavia Hills. On May 20, Libby’s Friends will host its 4th Annual Golf Tournament at Highland Park.

For more information, including how to donate and apply for assistance, visit www.libbysfriends.org.