top of page

About us

Holding Hope is a non-profit organization that was started to provide opportunities for respite and support services for the families of children with life threatening illnesses currently being treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Due to regular treatments, hospitalizations, and overall health concerns, many of these kids and their families are unable to escape routine to grow closer to one another, to laugh and play together, to relax, and to heal.

Holding Hope wants to come alongside these families and provide them with moments together to pause, relax, and rejuvenate as a family. We provide families with opportunities to relax together either locally or vacation destinations where the family unit can get away from everyday stresses and pressures but still be close to home and the hospital to ensure peace of mind.



Jason, Chrissy & Tyler

One of the most difficult things a parent can hear is that their child has a life-threatening illness. When the doctors sat Chrissy and I down and told us that our son, Tyler, had stage 4 T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, we were overwhelmed by feelings of fear and pain. From that moment, our lives were changed.

The first year of treatment proved most challenging – we’re thankful for the strength that God provided us and the love from family, friends and some complete strangers. Tyler lost his strength from time to time, he eventually lost his hair, but the one thing he never lost was his positive, fun-loving spirit. We were grateful for Tyler’s positive attitude because the feeling of fear was often doing all it could to suck the joy out of our lives. 
During Tyler’s treatment, we realized the importance of getting away as a family and reconnecting with one another but we struggled to find this time. When Tyler was being treated regularly, we were unable to travel too far from home and hospital. We were afraid to go too far away for fear that something would happen or he would suddenly get sick and need emergency care. He was also getting regular treatment which required us to be at the hospital at least once a week.

The need to stay close to the hospital forced us to stay close to home and made getting away next to impossible. When Tyler was healthier, and getting less chemotherapy, we were thankful for the organizations that provided opportunities for us to get away and find that much needed time with one another. 
The idea behind Holding Hope was born during the time in our life when we couldn’t get away from home.  We know many families, like us, are unable to find rest when their child is getting regular treatments. We also know that the stresses of regular family life don’t go away when a child is sick; instead, they’re amplified. We work hard to help families find rest in the storm, providing opportunities to get away without traveling too far from Hershey Hospital and supporting families financially so that their focus can be on what’s most important – family.

Meet the Team


Program Coordinator

Emily Blocker

Meet Emily, our dedicated Program Coordinator at Holding Hope. With a compassionate heart and a wealth of experience, Emily takes on the crucial role of nurturing our families and fostering meaningful connections with our sponsors. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Emily's professional journey has been diverse, spanning across various sectors. From administrative roles to working closely with children with Autism, Emily brings a versatile skill set and a profound dedication to her work. Her unwavering love and passion for supporting others shine through as she diligently cares for the families entrusted to Holding Hope, embodying our mission of compassion and support.

Mark Miller
Secretary of the Board

After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Mansfield University, Mark began his teaching career for the Mechanicsburg Area School District. He obtained a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Principal Certification from Shippensburg University. He currently serves as the Assistant Special Education Supervisor for Mechanicsburg Area School District. He has a heart for serving others and is a strong advocate for his students, a key member for the Student Assistance Program, and a volunteer for his church. When he is not working, he’s spending time with his loving wife, Brooke, and his son, Blake.  

Adrian Stouffer
Trustee of the Board

Adrian is a marketing professional and long-term advocate of Holding Hope. Adrian helps Holding Hope engage donors through social media and event planning. 

Patti Bixler
Treasurer of the Board

Patti holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Special Education and has dedicated 32 years in supporting students with disabilities.  Her career began as a special education teacher within a school district and an intermediate unit and is currently employed by the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU).  She has held many roles at the CAIU and one included working extensively to ensure students experiencing homelessness accessed their education, advocating for their rights and providing necessary resources.  Currently, she is a Lead Educational Coach supporting special educators to grow professionally in their knowledge and delivery of instruction and special education compliance to enhance student learning.  When not working, she spends time with her amazing husband, Michael, and their 2 dogs.

Night of Hope.png

Night of Hope Committee


Patti Bixler

Emily Blocker

Chrissy Derr

Julie Harmen

Danielle McLaren

Brooke Miller

Adrian Stouffer

Karen Williams

Lydia Zwatty

bottom of page