Massage therapist spreads hope with her hands

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2012



LAPLACE – With inspiration from her Army specialist son and her late father, a LaPlace massage therapist is using her relaxation skills to help families in need of some hope.

Anne Hooter, who operates Helping Hands Massage in LaPlace, specializing in neuro-muscular therapy, recently returned to her business after a brief sabbatical and now has a mission to give back to the community in the best we she can. She has developed a program to offer free massages to wounded warriors and cancer patients.

“My father, ‘Buddy,’ succumbed to lung cancer in June 2010,” Hooter said. “Around the same time my son, Lucas, serving overseas in Iraq was attacked and sustained injuries that earned him a Purple Heart. A few months later my mother-in-law passed away. It was quite a lot of pressure to deal with at the same time.”

The true inspiration for Hooter’s plan came a few weeks prior to her father’s passing. She explained that a group of strangers appeared at her father’s house and asked permission to cut his yard, free of charge.

“He accepted the request, and they cut the yard, but they also spent a great deal of time talking with him,” Hooter said. “He had just been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and I think he welcomed the break from worrying about what was going to happen. One evening, I was reflecting on things that 2010 brought to our family, and I started to think about those men who ministered to my Dad in his darkest hour. I wanted to help others the way my Father was helped.”

And just like that, “Buddy’s Hope” was born.

Hooter said she donates 10 percent of every massage service fee, as well as all tips received, to “Buddy’s Hope.” Since reopening her clinic in May, she has been able to donate 240 minutes for free massages. She said she is in the process of creating a non-profit so she can expand further.

“Anyone who has been touched by cancer can testify how grueling it can be,” Hooter said. “The same can be said for those who have lost a loved one to war or nursed a wounded veteran. The power of touch can work wonders.”

In the meantime, as she waits for her non-profit status to process, Hooter has taken on another mission that began last month when she came across the story of local toddler Boston Roques, who was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue tumor and has undergone several treatments. Hooter decided to take up his cause and started a fundraiser to help with Roques’ medical bills.

“For an entire week, 50 percent of the proceeds from my $60, one-hour massages went to a fund to benefit Roques,” Hooter said. “I raised a total of $370, which was later matched by Brian Larche of Riverland Chrysler Dodge Jeep. In all, more than $740 went to Boston and his family. His story touched my heart, and I wanted to do something to help them.”

Next month, Hooter said she is committing time to sponsor 5-year-old Nicholas Hooge of LaPlace, who is undergoing treatments for brain cancer. Half of the proceeds from all massages done from Aug. 27-31 will benefit the Hooge’s as they pay for Nicholas’ medical bills.

“I want to try to find a new person each month to sponsor,” Hooter said. “These families deserve to have a little hope to help them along.”

To find out more or to schedule a massage to benefit Nicholas Hooge, contact Hooter at 504-251-8603, or visit www.