The endless hospital visits. The flawed diagnoses. A perpetual sense of helplessness.
Scott Bedford (Business Administration, ’82) vividly remembers the search for a cause of his daughter Sarah’s struggling health when she was a senior in high school.
“The tragedy is parents don’t know what is wrong with their child. They go on this journey, two or three years and 10 to 15 doctors to try to figure out exactly what is happening,” he said.
It turned out Sarah has Lyme disease. In fact, the entire Bedford family has it. And through the course of their treatment, they discovered the incredible expense of battling the illness and how many families cannot afford proper care, which is rarely covered by insurance.
“Lyme doctors are hard to find—some people have to travel to multiple states,” Bedford said. “And there is not a protocol to get you better. You have to become your own detective, and some people are so sick, it’s really hard to manage all this.”
Bedford, his wife, Phyllis, and another Lyme-affected family started a fundraiser to provide grants to children and young adults so they can receive proper treatment and medications. Ten years later, it’s transformed into the LymeLight Foundation, a nonprofit with nationwide impact, awarding more than $7 million across 49 states.
With grants of $10,000 per child or young adult, the LymeLight Foundation aims to make a meaningful difference in whatever challenges individuals are facing. It also works to raise overall awareness about Lyme disease, which is believed to be transmitted to up to 475,000 people in the United States each year.
As co-founder and chair, Bedford helps lead with decades of financial expertise to ensure LymeLight can keep making an impact in perpetuity. After graduating from Chico State, he spent several successful years on Wall Street before founding Peninsula Capital Management, where he’s been managing money for institutional clients, endowments, and individuals for more than 25 years.
When deciding whom should be awarded a grant, Bedford is especially drawn to the underdog stories. Perhaps it’s a young woman whose family has decided that her ailments are all in her head and she is barely scraping by in work or school. Sometimes it’s a mother who discovered her own diagnosis only after passing the debilitating disease on to her child.
“There is a part about just giving back as an individual when you have been blessed with success,” he said. “We are tasked with giving back, and it’s so rewarding.”