Claire’s Place Foundation: Celebrating the Life of Claire Wineland
Since the planning stages of Claire’s Place Foundation, Executive Director Melissa Yeager has spent countless hours working for the cause and, of course, raising her two children, Claire (the foundation’s namesake) and Ellie. With many years of experience in project management and event planning, she has the drive and the experience needed to get the foundation off the ground as well as the personal history of raising a child with cystic fibrosis. Melissa is also a strong supporter of many charities and fundraising activities in her community.
Founding Claire’s Place Foundation has been a way for Melissa to give back and share her experience with other families living with cystic fibrosis. “We have always been blessed with a supportive family and a wonderful group of friends. It is my hope that we can provide the same type of support to families walking this path alone. It definitely takes a village or in this case a foundation to raise a child with a chronic, life threatening disease like cystic fibrosis.”
In this story, Melissa shares more about the birth of Claire’s Place.
At the age of 13, Claire Wineland founded Claire’s Place Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing support to children and families affected by cystic fibrosis (CF). Claire lived with cystic fibrosis her entire life.
Claire’s humanity and wisdom was beyond her years, and she always shined, despite how sick she was. Claire loved sharing her unique outlook on life and spotlighting the needs of children living with CF. Her inspirational outlook made her a social media star and TEDx speaker.
Claire, and her undying passion for living a life to be proud of, even inspired the 2019 major motion picture Five Feet Apart, directed by her dear friend, Justin Baldoni, whom she met while filming CW’s Our Last Days. Although Claire inspired Five Feet Apart, consulted on the script, attended table reads with the actors, etc., the story is not her life story. It is, however, the first major motion picture to cast a spotlight on people living with cystic fibrosis. The film earned hundreds of top press placements, including being featured on the Today Show; actor Cole Sprouse won a People’s Choice Award for his role in the film; and the film ignited social-media conversations across the globe about CF.
In September 2019, the documentary Claire, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Nick Reed and Ryan Azevedo, was released exclusively on YouTube. The film tells Claire’s story through interviews and footage. It illuminates her unique outlook, which inspires millions to find purpose and to live proudly. Reed and Azevedo masterfully use their film to allow Claire’s message to resonate with the audience.
Claire made her mark as an activist, speaker, philanthropist, and author. In September 2018, Claire passed away at the age of 21. She committed her life to traveling the world and speaking about her experience, from the beautiful and humorous to the painful parts of her life. She inspired all who followed her journey and broke down barriers for those who live every day with a chronic illness.
Claire’s Place Foundation was a way for Claire to give back with hope, strength, and joy. The foundation gave meaning to her life experience. Thanks to the continued generosity of her friends and fans, Claire’s family and the foundation’s board members proudly continue to carry Claire’s remarkable legacy forward by providing emotional and financial support to families living with CF.
Claire’s Place Foundation is making a huge impact through its two programs: the Extended Hospital Stay Fund and the Family Support Program. For the Extended Stay Program, the foundation has set up a special cache of funds available to families with children such as Barrett, who are experiencing a hospital stay of at least 14 consecutive days. Extended stays are a financial stress, and often, the children are in a city far from home. The Family Support Program connects families living with CF to communicate with each other and share their experience, strength, and hope with newly diagnosed or isolated families looking for support.
Please join us in making a difference for children and families living with cystic fibrosis by becoming a monthly donor or making a one-time donation. Until there’s a cure, there’s Claire’s Place. Check us out here.