Friday, December 14, 2007

First Heroes Milestones Request Filled!

Heroes Milestones was created as one of our social assistance programs to provide milestone parties for children with cancer whether they are in the hospital and can’t attend or they are at home and just can’t afford to celebrate the milestone. The idea came from one of my experiences with Kira. A few of us threw her a graduation party at the hospital since she missed graduation. I really wanted to make this a reality for other kids, so as soon as I found out I got the job with Heroes, I started mentioning the idea to Jenny. We met with a few social workers and came up with a game plan.

We finalized the plans for Heroes Milestones months ago, but hadn’t received any requests, until late in the afternoon on December 4th. A social worker let Jenny know about Nathaniel’s situation and we decided this would be a great Heroes Milestones request. Nathaniel, a 14 year old from Humble, Texas, has been battling ALL since he was 5… that’s EIGHT years!! Unfortunately he is losing his battle to the disease, but despite his ailing health he had a noble mission to fulfill to leave his legacy. His request was for a shopping spree to buy mementos for all of his family. Beyond that, we wanted to do more for him. I told his mom we could cater a dinner for them, so Nathaniel could pass out his presents. She told us his favorite place to eat was Carrabba’s . We also asked her what one gift she thought Nathaniel would want, and she replied, “Fireworks… He loves fireworks!!”

On Tuesday night I emailed our Houston volunteers to see if they had a connection with Carrabba’s. Oh what a connection they had!!! I could check dinner off of my list. On Wednesday, December 5th , ( December 5th four years ago was when Kira passed away- scroll down to the post - How I found Heroes- to read more about Kira) I started working immediately on the other details of this request. Nathaniel chose Things Remembered for his shopping spree, because they have great items for engraving. I worked with Nathaniel’s mom to figure out what items he wanted from Things Remembered. Then I called Things Remembered to be sure they had enough items of each in stock. Then came the task of figuring out the fireworks!! I had to be sure fireworks were even legal in his neighborhood, so I first called the Fire Marshall. Or a few until I figured out which one was the correct one. He gave me a recommendation for a fireworks company and told me what kind of show was allowed with out permits. I played phone tag with his recommendation for a day or two and decided to google fireworks companies in Houston. I came across the Phoenix Design group . JACKPOT!! They were so nice and willing to help. Whew… I am feeling someone good at this point! Kind of amazed it’s all falling into place. Kira definitely had a hand in all of this and was obviously telling people they had to say “Yes!!” to my every request!

So now I have dinner, the gifts, and the fireworks! I need to find a place in his neighborhood where they can shoot a 1.4G fireworks show and not be close to any buildings. We find the place, but then I have to figure out who owns it. So after many calls to the school by the park, the police department, the parks and recreation and multiple homeowners associations, I finally figure out which homeowner’s association owns the park. They want a written request so they can ask their board if it’s okay to use the park. By this time it is Friday evening and I am trying to pull this all off by Tuesday, December 11th.

Whew! I get the letter to the homeowners association, they approve it, so then I have to call the Phoenix Design group and the Fire Marshall to let them know!

So we are all set! Tuesday rolls around and I meet Nathaniel, his Mom, and two Houston volunteers at Deerbrook Mall for a private shopping experience at Things Remembered. He chose the wording and the font for the items and then we went to the jewelry store to choose the necklaces for his Mom and two grandmothers. He chose necklaces with his birthstone (aquamarine), so they can always wear him around thier necks. So precious!!

Nathaniel rests all afternoon because it is going to be a long night. At 6:00 the family (well most of the family) arrives at the pavilion in their neighborhood park (Carrabba’s decided the pavilion would be a nice place for the dinner). The dinner was supposed to start at 6:00 but a car chase on 59 had some of the attendees sitting in traffic for hours.

At 7:00 we started the evening off with the fireworks show. It was a 5:00 minute show with lots of oohs and ahhs from the family. The best part was that the fireworks actually brought a smile to Nathaniel’s face. He was in so much pain the entire day that there were very few smiles. Jumping through all those hoops was definitely worth it for that one smile!!!

After the fireworks, Carrabba’s served the dinner family style. Thankfully, Nathaniel was feeling well enough to eat, so he was able to thoroughly enjoy the food. Once everyone was finished eating, Nathaniel and his mom passed out the gifts to the family.

His family was so thankful for the presents and so thankful that Heroes for Children was able to provide this great celebration of life for Nathaniel. We’ve now set the bar very high for each Heroes Milestones request to follow, but it was SOOO worth it for just that one smile. See first picture up top.


Anonymous said...

Love that you were able to fulfill the first heroes milestones request!!!

christy said...

Amazing! Simply amazing.

Amy Gleason said...

SO INCREDIBLY INSPIRING!! You guys are amazing- thank you for sharing this story.

Amy Gleason

Tracy said...

It is amazing what you were able to do for this little boy and his family. You are both doing your little girls very proud!!!