Brenda Blacker

Witnessing the Testimonials at the Conferences, I never imagined that my family would be a recipient. I am humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude to my co-worker who nominated my family and to Family Bonds for their support.

I began my agency with TLN in 2011 with the love of creating my own family vacations and wanted others to share those memories with their loved ones.

In 2017, a change of life events altered our dreams.  My husband of 39 years was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer, my father passed away after a fall, and my 4-year-old grandson was diagnosed with Battens CLN2 (an incurable genetic disorder).

My grandson, Liam, began treatments in 2018 for Batten disease (not curable) but gives the gift of time. The treatments required traveling 3 hours each way to Chicago every 14 days and now going on 6 years of treatments.

My husband passed away in 2018 after 18 months of cancer dx and treatments. Six weeks later my mother passed away.

Our large family who loved and cherished our vacation times together was disappearing.

In 2021, after adjusting to our new life, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I underwent chemo, surgery, and radiation. I am now in remission.

As we went through our life challenges as most families do, we adjusted again.

Then the hardest challenge came Nov 2023, when my 46-year-old son-in-law (Liam’s father) passed away unexpectedly while going to work. He was a loving father to Liam and Max and a pillar of strength for my daughter. Billy was the main provider, carried the insurance, and shared caregiving for Liam with my daughter. Liam requires 24-hour care, and his condition will progress.

The donations to Family Bonds have helped our family to continue Liam’s journey which includes ongoing equipment costs, caregiving, treatments, and transportation to medical facilities. The love and support that comes from Family Bonds is immeasurable. We are blessed to be part of such a generous and caring community of advisors.

With much gratitude and a heartfelt thank you

– Brenda Blacker

Carolyn Kempf


For years, I made my donation to the Family Bonds Foundation and selected Family Bonds as my charity of choice through the Amazon Smile program, never thinking that one day, I would be the one in need.

On September 23, 2021, as I slowly woke from anesthesia, I heard the dreaded words that no one ever wants to hear. “You have ovarian cancer, and you’ll need to go through chemotherapy”. The surgery I had just gone through was successful, but the tumor that had been growing inside my ovary had put it under such strain that it actually burst during the surgery, leaving behind an unknown amount of cancerous cells.

While I had very good medical insurance, I quickly found that not every part of my treatment was actually covered. Several tests were “out of network”. For example, my tumor was sent for testing to find out exactly what lifesaving chemotherapy drugs would be most effective on the cancer cells that were left behind in my body. This was obviously a very high priority, but my insurance only covered 80% of that test. Which still left me responsible for over $2600, for just that one test! Add that to the pile of mounting medical bills for other things that were either “out of network” or only partially covered by insurance, and soon I was drowning in medical debt. And all this was happening during a time when the travel industry was facing the financial devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I underwent another surgery to insert a port into my chest where the drugs would be administered during six rounds of chemotherapy. All of which was only partially covered by insurance. Each round of chemo had me sitting in a chair, hooked to an IV of steroids and toxic chemicals for over four hours. I lost my hair. I lost my eyebrows. I lost my eyelashes. I didn’t recognize the face staring back at me in the mirror. I went through excruciating bone pain. I could sleep for twelve hours and still wake up exhausted. And everything I ate tasted like metal. I tried to work as much as my body would allow. But the bills kept rolling in. Through it all, I received incredible emotional support from my family, my friends, my Travel Leaders family members across the country, and even from our vendor partners. What an enormous blessing to be surrounded by love from my work family far and wide while I went through the biggest challenge of my life.

In late March of 2022, the tests showed I was cancer-free.

In late April as I was back to work full time, rejoicing in the world once again opening up to travel, getting back to normal life, and desperately struggling to keep up with the multiple monthly medical bill payments. I received an email out of the blue from the Family Bonds Foundation. I had been nominated and chosen to receive a grant to help me with my medical debt. That grant was life-changing. There’s simply no other way to say it. My Travel Leaders family was once again there to support me. And I felt blessed beyond measure.

– Anonymous

Natalee Fox

Steven Clark

On 14 July 2019 my family’s life changed drastically. While returning from a fishing trip my husband Steve suffered a massive heart attack and major stroke at the exact same time. The stroke left him without most of his vision. While we thought we were on a good path and adjusting to our new life, 11 days later on 25 July 2019 my husband suffered another major stroke. This stroke left him left side weak and never to be able to return to work and normal activities again. He was in the hospital for weeks and then transferred to a rehab facility to help him walk again and to regain his strength. As he was our main income in the home it has been a major adjustment in many ways. We are learning each day to deal with our new life and are thankful he is alive today! Each day is step forward for us.

We were able to pay his medical bills and with the money donated and it was a big relief that they were then covered and taken care of.

I have always myself donated to family Bonds knowing how important it is to help others. I never in a million years thought I would be on of the recipients. You never know what will come one day that you may need the additional help and if you can donate to help others it’s a blessing.

– Kori & Steven Clark

Karen Zients

In the early morning hours of August 14, 2019, the body of my 16-year-old grandson was found. He had taken his life by suicide.

Over the next few weeks we discovered cyber bullying and other things happening that we were not aware of including friends saying they knew he was in a dark place.

After speaking with parents of the kids he went to school with we found out that there are no programs in our area to address kids with depression. We also found that from the parent standpoint there were many things like access to his phone that a parent is not entitled to.

My daughter and I decided to establish Ian’s Way, Inc. a 501c3 non-profit to combat teen suicide in our area. The grant along with much fundraising that we are doing will enable us to pay mental health professionals necessary to accomplish our goals.

Donations from the Family Bonds Foundation made this grant possible and will help us to save at least one teen life and a family from going through what we do every day.

– Karen Zients
The Cruise People

Lori Atkinson

Philip Doyle

“In December of 2018, Philip found out he had prostate cancer.  While we were still deciding how to deal with my diagnosis, Carol collapsed from losing blood internally.  We discovered that she had a large cancerous tumor, and on Christmas Eve she had the tumor removed along with her stomach, spleen and part of her pancreas.

My surgery had to wait until February while I became Carol’s caregiver.  I have recovered and Carol is receiving ongoing cancer treatments to prevent the cancer from returning.  She is getting stronger every day and so far the prognosis looks good.

Even though we have Medicare coverage, the expenses for medicines, scans and physical therapy services add up quickly while travel advisor income suffers.

We have been blessed with the love and prayers of our relatives and church family.  The area we never expected support from was our fellow travel advisors and TLN family.  As much as the monetary grant helped, the thoughtfulness was of equal value to us.  We were so humbled and touched by the support from the Family Bonds Foundation that we resolved to “pay it forward” by doing whatever we can to support the foundation.

I would encourage every one of our TLN advisors to support the work of Family Bonds Foundation.  There is no better way to be there for our fellow TLN members when life takes a turn for the worst.”

– Philip and Carol Doyle

Debra (Dee) Bush