Maryland Woman Raises Millions for People With Life-Threatening Illnesses

One of the area’s most generous people runs Patty Pollatos Fund

A Maryland woman makes it her mission to help people suffering from life-threatening illnesses. She wants them to be able to be able to stay in their homes and avoid the financial hardships that can follow.

For hundreds of people Debbie Williams, of New Market, Md., has been an angel when they needed one most.

“She’s like a second mom to me,” 11-year-old Lily Weaver said.

Lily bone cancer this year. She’s now in remission, but for months her parents were out of work at the hospital praying for help. Enter Williams and the Patty Pollatos Fund.

“She helped my mommy and daddy with being there so they can take off work and still pay for all the bills so then we can still have a house to live under and still have toys to play with and everything like that,” Lily said.

Williams started the fund in the late 1990s and has raised $4 million for people in Maryland over the years.

The fund is named for a friend who died of cancer. Patty Pollatos was sick and losing her house.

“In 30 days, long story short, we raised $20,000,” Williams said. “Patty died with dignity with her family, friends and hospice.”

That effort sparked a fire in Williams. She spends most of her day setting up fundraisers, soliciting donations and looking for those willing to help.

“When I think of all the kids, the men and the women that have been affected by this and how gracious and wonderful the lord is, I get emotional,” Williams said.

She has six almost full-time volunteers helping her raise money through events like concerts and races.

They helped John Smith and his family of five after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“If it weren’t for them we’d be out on the street,” Smith said.

“One person can make a difference, but together we can change the world,” Williams says.

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