Our Story

Books That Heal is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps pediatric patients battling chronic illnesses write and illustrate their very own children's books to become published authors and illustrators!

Books That Heal helps children who are undergoing treatment tell their stories. We work closely with the children and their families to reflect the children’s character and spirit in their books, and use the children’s illustrations to bring the books to life!​

As soon as the books are ready to print, we coordinate book signing events to celebrate the children and to surround them with their friends, families, and support teams.

Our organization handles all costs of editing and publishing the books, coordinates the book signing events, and donates royalties of every book sold to organizations and foundations chosen by the children and their families.​

At Books That Heal, we help publish stories that deserve to be told. Join us in building a community of support for the children, one book at a time.

Board Members


Michael Flatley is the Founder and President of Books That Heal. Inspired by his sister’s career as a Child Life Specialist, Michael created the organization while pursuing a Master’s degree from Fordham University and taking a course on Social Entrepreneurship. Michael is instrumental in all aspects of the organization, and assists in the writing and formatting of all books published by Books That Heal and coordinates all fundraising efforts hosted by the organization on behalf of its published pediatric authors and illustrators.

Michael has also served on the board for a New York-based non-profit organization that is committed to finding a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), and has over fifteen years’ experience in the financial industry. Michael works as a Wealth Manager at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and splits his time between the Charleston and New York City offices. Michael previously worked at Deutsche Bank where he was selected for the firm’s REAL Program, a global program that honors employees who best demonstrate the Bank’s values and beliefs.

Michael resides in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina with his wife, Amanda, their daughter, Charlie Ann, and their toy poodle, Riley.


Dr. Stephen DeMeo is a Neonatologist at WakeMed Hospitals in Raleigh, NC who specializes in the care of premature and critically ill newborns. Prior to his neonatology training at Duke University Hospital, he completed his residency in pediatrics at the AI DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. Dr. DeMeo serves the Books that Heal organization because he has witnessed the enormous effects that patient empowerment can have on patient and family healing. DeMeo also serves on the board of the March of Dimes for Eastern North Carolina.


Brady Lucas is an author, philanthropist, and relationship-builder. Brady's inspiration to become an author and write his first book Smiley's Smile came from his experience undergoing treatment for 2 childhood cancer diagnoses and finding power within education.

Brady believes all children should have access to information that can empower them to understand and be involved regardless of their age within their healthcare journey.

Brady has a Bachelor of Biobehavioral Health and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Children's Literature from Penn State University. Brady currently resides in Gig Harbor, Washington with the love of his life, Julia. Brady lives a life for Jesus and by the motto Smiles Make The World Go Round.


Dr. Sam Nia is a dual board-certified anesthesiologist and interventional pain physician who received a Bachelor of Science, Magna Cum Laude, from Binghamton University in Psychology, Neuroscience, and minoring in Business, and his Doctorate from New York Medical College, where he was the recipient of the New York Medical College Trustees Scholarship.

During his senior year in undergraduate school, Sam also won Binghamton University’s Student Entrepreneurship Prize. Upon completing an internship in Medicine at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Flushing, NY, and Residency in Anesthesiology at Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ, Dr. Nia has completed an extensive list of fellowships in regional anesthesiology and acute pain medicine at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, interventional pain medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, NY, and pediatric regional anesthesia and pain medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Dr. Nia serves as Chief Medical Officer to Books That Heal’s Board of Advisors. His experiences in pain management and entrepreneurial spirit have helped to shape the organization since its beginning days.


Donna Marques was first involved with Books that Heal when her daughter Emma became the first child to publish a book with us called Emma the Brave. Emma lost her battle to DIPG at the age of 6 in 2016. Donna helps in areas of the foundation to help gain insight from a parent view and collaborate with families. Donna comes from an international business development background, bringing brands such as Timothy’s to the U.S market under Keurig. Donna was also responsible for bringing Hawaiian Tropic into the mass grocery channel Into Canada. Currently, Donna is a business development manager for Coca-Cola Beverages of Florida.

Donna’s true passion lies into giving back to others and helping children continue the fight with cancer. Donna is also involved in the Children’s Brain Tumor project and The All In To Win Foundation. She continues to collaborate with oncologists on research and development for DIPG, an incurable childhood cancer.


Shannon DeMeo sits on Book That Heal’s Board of Advisors as the organization’s Board Secretary. Shannon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Drew University. While completing a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from the College of New Rochelle in New York, she completed a Child Life Internship at Tomorrows Children’s Institute for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center. Shannon has worked as a Child Life Specialist at St. Christopher’s Hospital and Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, PA and at Newark Beth Israel in Newark, NJ. At Newark Beth Israel, Shannon worked intensively with The Valerie Fund, a non-profit organization which specializes in health care and comprehensive services for children with cancer and blood disorders.


Michael Pirson is an associate professor of management systems. He teaches courses such as social entrepreneurship, fundamentals of management and principles of management. A native of Germany, Professor Pirson has worked and lived in Switzerland, France, China, Costa Rica and the United States. He has worked for an international consulting working for and with businesses, nonprofits, embassies, political campaigns, and local and national governments. He is a founding partner of the Humanistic Management Association and editor-in-chief of Humanistic Management Journal. He is the co-editor of the Humanism in Business book series, published by Palgrave-McMillan. Dr. Pirson is a research fellow at Harvard University and serves on the board of three social enterprises in the United States.


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