Biogen, Brandywine Valley Hemophilia Foundation team up to volunteer at Food Bank of Delaware

MILFORD — With soaring medication and living costs, members of the Brandywine Valley Hemophilia Foundation say they’ve seen the struggles some go through to obtain life-giving essentials.

“We just helped a lady with a baby with a bleed in the brain so she could afford to stay in the hospital with her baby,” Gerry Reed, a member of the organization’s board of directors, said. “It’s what we do.”

Saturday morning, Mr. Reed joined other organization members and staff members from Biogen, a company which manufactures drugs to help prevent hemophiliac episodes, to offer a different kind of helping hand.

They volunteered at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch.

“Our little organization, every time we partner with Biogen, they provide everything we need. They also gave us $750 for the organization which we’re going to turn that back around to the food bank. They [Biogen] never say no to our community,” Gail Vannicola, president of the all-volunteer Brandywine Valley Hemophilia Foundation, said.

The Brandywine Valley Hemophilia Foundation co-hosted a day of giving back with Biogen, a company which provides drugs to help prevent hemophilia complications. The groups volunteered at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch Saturday morning. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

“They make us feel so great about giving back. It’s tremendous.”

The Food Bank of Delaware hosted the two groups Saturday morning in hopes of getting more food sorted and coolers filled with meals prepared to go out to community members in need.

“We love having new companies come out and volunteer with us. It’s a great opportunity for them to share what we do in Delaware. If we didn’t have companies like Biogen come out to help, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Branch Manager Chad Robinson said.

About 19,000 volunteers statewide assisted the Food Bank of Delaware last year alone, equating to 22 full-time staffers, he added.

For Mr. Reed, who has a mild version of hemophilia, volunteering with both his organization and others such as the Food Bank of Delaware is important to helping others with the disease.

“I needed a one-time dose of the drug Biogen manufactures,” he said of an incident following a fall. “It was $220,000. That was just one-time. Some people need it often.”

Brandywine Valley Hemophilia Foundation Board of Directors President Gail Vannicola said her son is one of the few who needs a life-saving drug every third day for a more severe version of hemophilia.

“Biogen is an excellent company. But the cost of drugs for the disease is astronomical. So, we focus on giving back to the community to help with that as much as we can,” she said.

The foundation is based out of Pennsylvania, but offers services in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

An international company, Biogen’s corporate headquarters are located in Cambridge, MA.

Christine Rowe, community relations and education manager for Biogen, said the company was pleased to co-host the event, named “Our time to give back,” as a small way to give back to the community it serves.

“Our company came out with the first innovative product in 15 or 20 years for hemophilia a and b: extended half-life products. It means less sticks, less pain,” she said. “We’re just glad to offer a helping hand. We know it’s not easy.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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