Harry Potter Producer Left Movies to Help Families with Sick Children

Paula DuPré Pesman found her purpose in life after helping a terminally ill child.

Nov 1, 2019

Harry Potter movies are huge hits and they are loved by children all over the world. Kids can lose themselves in the wonderful world of magic and Hogwarts. But more importantly, they learn from the movies that compassion and loyalty to others are essential values to get through the muggle world.

That's why Paula DuPré Pesman, who was working as the associate producer of her third Harry Potter movie, found it so hard to leave this behind when started her organization, There With Care, that helps families with sick children.

Her move towards charity work did not happen by chance. According to Nation Swell, while she was working on the set of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", Pesman received a call asking if she could grant the wish of a terminally ill child; a fan named Gillian who's wish was to see a movie about the boy wizard.

While logistically Pesman was inclined to resist, she pulled together the cast and crew who together overcame the challenges and put together a rough-cut screening for the young girl, she told the Denver Post. “She shot me out of a cannon,” she said, “It became my reason to go to work.”

Pesman’s determination to help Gillian partially came from her own experience of living with a sick loved one, her husband, who had fought and won the battle with advanced stage colon cancer.

Granting Gillian’s wish enabled her to witness how powerful supporting a family in need can be. From then on, Pesman continued to grant the wishes of ill children; in partnership with Harry Potter director, Chris Columbus, they enabled over 65 seriously ill children to visit the movie set.

After spending time with the parents of the ill children, Pesman realized that there was a great need for an organization that helps the families too. That's when she left the career, she loved in 2005, to start her organization. At first, she worked out of her Boulder, Colorado home. Now the organization has a second office in Palo Alto, California and has helped over 4,000 families.

There with Care provides many services that families in crisis rarely find, such as transportation to and from the hospital, gas cards, deep cleaning services for children with weak immune systems, clothing, toilet paper, and ready-eat-meals especially when kids are returning from the hospital.

Volunteers also sit with families and provide a listening ear and emotional support, something that a surprising amount of families don’t receive from their peers. 

“Families tell us even the little things we can do make a huge difference, and they genuinely appreciate the fact that total strangers know what they’re going through and are eager to help,” Pesman said. 

Looking back, she said, “In a way I think everything came together so that today we would be here helping. It gave us a new purpose and a new way of helping people.”

Today, Pesman loves combining her two passions and continues to work in the movie industry with the making of award-winning documentary films including "The Cove" and "Chasing Ice".

Pesman's  dedication to assisting families struggling with illness is an inspiring call-to-action that reminds us that there is always someone in our community that could use a little attention, love, and support.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.