An Angel Among Us
Dec 12, 2014 10:56AM
● By Kim Shemwell
The holidays are a beautiful time of the year, bringing loved ones together and prompting all of us to be more generous and kind. It’s a time when you see an abundance of charitable giving and good will within our community, but it’s not often that you see the same level of generosity being given year round. That is, unless you’ve met Draper resident and philanthropist Deb Harper.
“She is one of the most courageous and wonderful people I have ever met,” said Matt White, a Draper resident whose grandson was able to get the life-saving medical help he needed for a brain tumor, thanks to Harper’s fundraising efforts. “She has an incredible heart and ability for compassion.”
Harper has always volunteered in her spare time, but it wasn’t until her husband Bill passed away four years ago, that she knew she needed to start doing more things that made her feel good.
“If I see a family in need, I want to help,” Harper said. “I’ve always had a passion to help others, specifically underprivileged children—those with rare diseases that may not receive assistance elsewhere.”
White and his family were fortunate enough to meet Harper through a mutual friend while sitting in the waiting room at Primary Children’s Hospital while White’s grandson Gage, 4, was undergoing a nine-hour brain surgery.
“Deb heard we needed financial help and organized her powers to help us pay for medical expenses,” White said. “She held a 10K fundraiser and even rented out a movie theater with all the proceeds and ticket sales going to my grandson.”
Organizing large-scale fundraising projects is not unusual for Harper. Since her husband’s passing, Harper now serves as president and sole owner of their business, Harper Concrete. She has a vast professional background and is well known not only for her work within the concrete industry but also for her involvement in many charities. She’s joined forces with several local organizations that assist children, carrying out one successful fundraiser after the next, touching innumerable lives along the way.
“She has a long list of people she does business with who understand that she helps people in need,” White said. “People get behind her because they know she has investigated situations and only gets involved in worthy projects.”
Harper is particularly devoted to the Angel’s Hands Foundation, a charity that assists families living with rare diseases and unusual medical circumstances. This organization, whose founders, Mark and Roxann Kristensen, lost a son to a rare disease, introduced Harper to one of the most memorable children she’s ever helped, Nathan Glad, a Taylorsville child with an incurable bone disease.
After hearing about his family’s need for wheel chair access in their home, Harper called upon her construction friends to help her personally redesign the Glad family home.
“I never like to say just me, because it’s a team of people,” Harper said about the projects she supports. “I now have an amazing volunteer team of about 15 people—one member happens to be from a family we helped—it’s always a pay it forward kind of thing.”