About the Fund

Established in 2002 by a friend of the Cranston family, the Holly Cranston Memorial Fund (HCMF) continues to evolve, with a focus on raising monies to help those whose needs are not met through traditional methods. Our aim is to help children with disabilities and their families who reside in our community. We are able to provide both financial support and guidance to these families.

To date the fund has donated about $80,000 for scholarships and grants to those who plan on working with children with disabilities, to individuals with disabilities, and to families whose lives are affected by someone with a disability. The funds have been raised through annual crab feeds, wine tastings and silent auctions, and golf tournaments. 

Our Board

The HCMF Board of Directors is a collaboration of a small group of local business people.

The board president, Marty Sampson, is a resident of Napa who has been working in most phases of the construction industry for 40 years, from concrete to carpentry and glazing. He owned and operated his own business for 16 years. He currently focuses on high end residential projects in and around the surrounding Napa Valley. His connections to the communityare a refreshing resource.

Our vice president, Mary Sousa, has been in the escrow business for nearly 30 years. She has a vast knowledge of our community and has proven to be a great resource in identifying those whose needs are not met by traditional methods. She is well known in the valley and brings many more resources to our cause.

Our second vice president, Sven Oj,a was born and raised in the Napa Valley. He was a local high school teacher and, in recent years, has moved into the wine industry.  His connections with an array of wineries had led to some great relationships in our fundraising efforts.

Our treasurer, Kellie Sampson, brings 25-plus years of accounting experience to our team. She is a creative financier and also has her finger on the pulse of those in need. She has a knack for working with both children and adults in the community. Her expertise is a welcome addition.

Holly's mom, Lori Oja, is the HCMF secretary and works for the Napa Valley Unified School District. She has lived a majority of her life in Napa and is proud of the work done by the Holly Cranston Memorial Fund.

• • • • • • • •

HCMF donations have included scholarship monies to Napa High School, Vintage High School and Justin High School students ($9,500), a playground for special-needs kids at Medical Therapy Unit/McPherson School, college scholarships to children that have lost a parent, a Dell computer to a Napa High School student who has battled leukemia and suffered a stroke, special shoes for a disabled teen, and equipment and supplies to enrich disabled children's lives.

butterfly

butterfly

• • • • • • • •

When someone gives you something wonderful and unexpected, it’s hard to find words to thank them. I just want you to know I won’t ever forget Holly’s name or the day that I met her family.

• • • • • • • •

Remembering Holly

Holly died unexpectedly on Feb. 5, 2002, eight days before her ninth birthday. She was at home, napping and ill with a respiratory infection.

Before she was a year old, it was obvious Holly was not developing normally. She began having grand mal seizures at about 14 months.  She did not walk until age four and developed a vocabulary of about 60 words and phrases, such as "boo," "help me," and "hi." She was also developmentally delayed. Her disabilities were severe, requiring frequent hospitalizations, intense care, and constant attention from her family. She was part of a research project at UC Davis because there was no specific diagnosis for her particular group of symptoms. DNA testing revealed a gene defect related to myasthenia, a severe weakness of the muscles. This research is ongoing.

Despite her many challenges, Holly lived a very full life, enjoying the things that any little girl would enjoy. She loved new clothes. Whenever she received something new to wear, she would slap her chest with her hand, letting all of us know that she wanted to put her new clothes on without delay!  With a closetful of clothes, Holly was always “dressed up."

Holly and her brother HOLLY AND HER BROTHER RYAN

She also loved her big brother Ryan very much, and he took very good care of his little sister. He spent many hours with her sitting on his lap watching Sesame Street and Barney. They would often play in one of their rooms, whether it be with dolls, the Brio train set, or just hanging out. They truly enjoyed each other's company. Even when Ryan would have his friends over, he never seemed to mind having his sister around. He was very proud of Holly.

Her favorite activity was riding the school bus every morning to school.  Waiting for the bus to pick her up, Holly would laugh and be eager to get on with her daily journey.