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For most of his life, Zachary Woodard was confined to a wheelchair and needed help with basic tasks. But that didn’t stop him from being active. He loved music and participating in dance parties. He loved being with his family and friends.

That is, when he wasn’t in the hospital receiving treatment for a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Days and sometimes weeks at a time were spent in care facilities.

One summer, a family friend gifted the Woodards a string of Christmas lights to brighten up the space.

They were an instant hit.

“One morning [Zachary] woke up and he said, ‘I really like my lights. Do you think we could do this for other kids?’” Susan Woodard explained. “And I said, ‘Absolutely! We’ll make a plan to do that.’ Zachary passed away just a couple hours after he shared that with me. It was obvious to my husband and I what we needed to do. That is the genesis of our foundation. We’re going to brighten the day of all kids who have long-term chronic illnesses or disabilities.”

“LightZ of Hope” was born to help brighten the future days of kids like Zachary.

“We just wanted to continue to bring Zachary’s wish to life,” Susan explained. “It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be able to participate and donate to UNC Children’s.”

And it was a dance party on Zachary’s 16th birthday, the last he would spend with his family, that might have been the reason for him wanting to share the love he felt with others.

“Zachary loved dancing and he loved music,” Susan remembered. “We found some lights that have a Bluetooth speaker already built in and they’re remote controlled. It just gives the child an opportunity to control the lights. They can sync it to their music or their parents’ phone. It just gives them a little bit enjoyment while they’re probably not having the best of days.”

As of May 2020, “LightZ of Hope” has supplied more than 500 lights to children across the country.


Thanks so much to LightZ of Hope for all you do for our kids!


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