When it comes to graduations, weddings and bar mitzvahs, people give freely. But when it comes to a serious medical diagnosis, cards stuffed with money tend not to appear.
Desiree Vargas Wrigley and Ethan Austin understand how disempowering and expensive disease can be for a family. Vargas Wrigley lost a grandfather to lymphoma; Austin, his father to colon cancer.
In 2008, Vargas Wrigley and Austin each invested $25,000 to found GiveForward, a for-profit social venture, which allows individuals to create web pages to raise funds for any need.
In 2010, GiveForward was accepted as part of the inaugural class of Chicago startup accelerator, Excelerate Labs. This year, it passed the $5 million mark for funds processed. The owners expect to raise another $2.5 million to $5.7 million by yearend.
''Everyone in this country is in the same boat, and everyone can use a helping hand,'' said Austin.
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