In 2006, Lisa and Dirk Hiller began The Piggyback Foundation to help families maintain normalcy for their children when someone in the family is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as cancer. Their motto is “Carrying families through times of need because every child loves a piggyback ride!”
This all-volunteer organization now helps an average of 20 families a month. To help create consistent funding for the families, they opened When Pigs Fly, an upscale resale and retail shop in Norwalk, Ohio, to support the foundation. It has served over 150 families and given out over $225,000 in support.
One mother said the shop’s whimsical name is perfect because the foundation has given her children wings by providing the funds needed to stay in their extracurricular activities. Read the amazing testimonials from the families who have been helped.
Lisa explains, “We wanted to focus on doing small things to bring joy to the life of a child when the family is confronted with the devastation of a life threatening illness. One mother, dealing with stage 4 cancer, said that she appreciated the fact that Piggyback enabled her to focus on the joys of life with her children and not the seriousness of her illness.”
Throughout the shop, they have flying pigs, painted by families in memory/honor of their loved ones battling cancer. As Lisa says, “Our flying pigs represent hope!”
The Piggyback Foundation focuses on four areas of help:
Family Counts provides funds for family vacations, activities such as going to the zoo, ball games, amusement parks, birthday parties, holiday events, movies, family photographs, anniversary dinners and spa treatments at Christian Roberts Salon and Day Spa.
Education Counts provides funds for school fees, books, computers, and tutoring.
Kids Count provides funds for children to stay in their extracurricular activities like sports and piano and dance lessons, also with uniforms and equipment.
Faith Counts provides prayers for our families, help with connecting to a church if needed, and comforting homemade meals.
In recent years, an emergency fund has been created to help families with emergency travel expenses since some families need to travel to hospitals far away for treatment. This helps with airline tickets and hotel stays, gas and food costs.
When Pigs Fly
Over 90% of the items in the When Pigs Fly shop are from donations. On their Facebook page customers can view newly donated items and even see the “Piggy of the Week”!
“We want our guests to feel as though they were shopping in a fine gift shop and walk out with their new found treasure wrapped in a beautiful package,” explains Lisa. That is why they use Nashville Wraps gift packaging. The shop loves using our Shadow Stripe paper shopping bags, Polka Dot tissue paper and ribbon. They especially like our Houndstooth gift wrap. “It is has a nice weight, makes crisp lines and creates a beautiful package,” comments Lisa.
The response from the community has been so positive. The Norwalk Economic Development Corporation and Chamber has honored When Pigs Fly with a Maple City award for helping to revive uptown Norwalk with a local shopping experience.
The Red Cross has also honored The Piggyback Foundation with a “Hero of the Year” award for helping families struggling devastating illnesses in our community.
The Piggyback Foundation’s dream is to expand to other communities who have cancer clusters and are in need of programs to help the entire family with the challenges of life threatening illnesses.