Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Staff Takes Part in Holiday Heroes

With the holidays rapidly approaching, the Heroes for Children staff are getting in the holiday spirit! After having an extremely busy Fall we were all looking forward to the Winter for a much needed slow down (although I am still waiting for that slow down…maybe next week).

One of the main focuses around the office the past few months has been Holiday Heroes and the 40 families through Texas that we have adopted. This program is my favorite and I am very blessed that I was able to be a part of so much of it. The shopping was a blast and watching those teams fill up 2 to 3 shopping carts full of toys, clothes, bikes, video games and even bedding filled me with excitement. Excitement that these families are going to have a wonderful Christmas because of this program. Filled with even more excitement for those families that weren’t going to have a Christmas if it wasn’t for Holiday Heroes and the wonderful volunteers.

The HFC staff originally planned to have a Christmas party to include spouses but we were unable to agree on a date that worked for everyone but we came up with an even better idea! We decided that we could choose one of our Holiday Heroes families and that family was ours to shop for, wrap for and provide for. We chose a family that touched us. They are gracious, humble and truly selfless. We choose Caden’s family. Caden is 3 years old and has been battling Neuroblastoma for a year and half. He recently relapsed and is continuing to fight. When we received this family’s Holiday Heroes wish list back in our office we looked over their wish list to find that Caden’s mom, Lexie, hadn’t listed the things that the boys had wanted but instead wrote us a letter back…

Hey Guys,
We wanted to thank you for all you have done for us over the past year. We are honored and humbled to be selected as one of your Holiday Heroes families-what a surprise. As we tried to think about needs for our family, especially the boys, we realized we have been so blessed and truly don’t lack for much in the areas of food, clothes, toys etc. It is hard to give suggestions for gifts because we don’t truly need anything. We are torn on what to do, so we will let you make the decision. Listed below are “family/brother gifts” suggestions (rather than individual child), however, if there is another family that could use your help please remove our name. Thank you again.

Their list is:
Gift certificate towards bunk beds
Wii and games
Tickets to sporting events
Gift cards to restaurants or family places

We instantly agreed that Caden’s family was “our” family. We all headed out to Wal-Mart for our shopping day and we did fill up two carts worth of stuff for this family. We had a great time choosing just the right things for the boys and we each personally contributed to the shopping carts. The shopping was followed by our staff Christmas lunch at Kona Grill, and yes there was sushi involved. We even did a little more shopping after lunch!

It took us about an hour to wrap all the gifts and get them ready to deliver to Caden’s family at the Dallas Holiday Heroes Christmas party this past Saturday. It was so nice to be able to meet Lexie, John and the boys. If you were to see Caden on Saturday you wouldn’t have even know he was a little boy with cancer, he was just a little boy playing and chasing his big brothers with a smile on his face the whole time. It made it all the hard work of the Fall pay off to see the smile on Caden’s face!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Boxes, Boxes and More Boxes!

These lovely boxes are filled with objects that will brighten the day for a child with cancer.

We are sending out 7 laptops this week! Last week one of the laptops brought a smile to a young man who in reference to a comment about the smile said, “And I haven’t smiled in a looong time!”. That makes 88 laptops we have delivered this year alone!!

The two boxes on the right are milestone packages. See contents below. One’s a princess birthday party. She will have to spend her 4th birthday in the hospital receiving chemo, so we sent her a Princess slumber party package to celebrate when she gets home. The other box, a snowman party package for a 4 year old celebrating a belated birthday and a half way through treatment party!!

These 9 boxes will bring so much joy to these families in the next few days! Thanks for supporting Heroes for Children and helping us spread smiles to all these children!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Volunteer of the Month

Every charity has them. The volunteer rock super stars that make our jobs just a little easier. Those "go to" people that you can rely on because not only do they come through for you, but do so with passion and excitement. The kind of volunteer you wish you could figure out how to duplicate and have lots of! We are fortunate to have one such volunteer working on our special Heroes Milestones program.

Kim Bannister is a member of HFC Friends, the Heroes for Children Women's Auxiliary, and currently serving as the chair of Heroes Milestones. Milestones helps a cancer patient celebrate a milestone event in their life that he or she might otherwise miss out on due to their cancer treatment. From birthday celebrations to Celebrations of Life parties at the end of a child's life, we've helped children and their families enjoy happy moments together. Each party is unique to the child and coordinated by Christi Disch, our Programs Services Coordinator, along with Kim. This month, four year old Natalie is going to get her wish--to go to a ball and dance with her prince (ie--her Daddy). She missed her fourth birthday and is finishing chemotherapy this month. Kim has taken the challenge of creating a ball and run with it! Natalie will be the Belle of the Ball at this special event, and we have Kim Bannister to thank for it.

I'm excited to share our friend and volunteer Kim Bannister with you. If you are new to the Dallas area or starting out a family, be sure to get a copy of Kim's book, littleDallas, for tips for raising a child in Dallas. It's a must have!

Name, Occupation:
Kim Radtke Bannister; author/free-lance writer

How did you get involved with HFC?
I was invited to the first Heroes and Handbags event and have been hooked ever since. Our son was a patient at Children’s when he was 4 weeks old. The quality of service and care was amazing, but the sadness and worry we encountered with many parents was heartbreaking. Through Heroes, we can help alleviate the financial burdens for the families in need, while supporting them emotionally as well through such a program as Heroes Milestones- Making an ill child’s birthday wish come true is something my young children get excited about- it is can be a family affair!

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
Sawyer, our daughter, is 7 ½. Our son, Ford is 5. We have two German Shepherds, Amigo & Armani as well as two fish, Bud and Fancy.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
I am cautious in nature, was convinced I could fly when I was young, dream to camp in Africa, I am afraid of flying, my favorite actor is John Travolta & I want to learn how to surf. If I could start a new career, I would be an architect- there’s still time!

Favorite place to eat:
I love great sushi! So, Shin Sei of course! And Ed’s Deli for family breakfast and Sunday “brunch.”

What’s on your bedside table?
Town & Country Magazine, Architectural Digest, Devil in the White City, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society & Gourmet Magazine.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
A variety of music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to present day. Nothing gets me to run faster than Donna Summer, Blues Traveler, Bon Jovi & Guns ‘n Roses. . . a blast from the past and it reminds me of my youth!

Who’s your hero?
I admire those who are compassionate and benevolent to others without wanting anything in return. And my younger brother and his wife who lost their twin babies, Jack & Madison, at birth.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Time to Give Thanks

Delaney (Her Story- per her mom)

On October 9th, 2008 Delaney was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). This is an inoperable brain stem tumor, that has a prognosis of 6-12 months (apprx) and survival of 2 years is less than 8%. She is currently in her 5th week of radiation and is about to enter MD Anderson for the second time to finish her IV chemo. We will be spending Thanksgiving in the hospital.

In May of 2008, I took her to the pediatrician because she was slurring her speech and had a droop in the right side of her face; she was also klutzier than normal. He said she had a lopsided smile, and said she needed speech therapy. In September, I took her back because her speech was incoherent and she was now having headaches and trouble swallowing. He referred me to a pediatric neurologist and ordered an MRI. We were all stunned to find the mass on the MRI.
After attempting to work as many hours as possible and still take her to her daily appointments, I was let go from my job. The help from Heroes for Children was an answered prayer.
We appreciate the work that you do.

* We are THANKFUL that we could assist Delaney’s parents at this difficult time when they are trying to provide for Delaney as best as they can. We are THANKFUL Delaney is resilient and happy through all of her treatments!*

Catherine (Her Story – per her social worker)
Catherine does not have access to a computer in her home and this will assist her with her homework and staying in touch with friends. She is homebound school. She is scheduled for more chemotherapy, then a surgical procedure to remove the cancer, and then more chemotherapy. She and her parents are thrilled for this opportunity.

*We are THANKFUL for the smile this laptop put on Catherine’s face. We are THANKFUL that now she will be able to stay in touch with friends and keep up with her school work!*

What are you THANKFUL for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Volunteer of the Month

Finding a mission you love to combine with a sport you love? A perfect combination for our Volunteer of the Month, Bud Lowry. Bud first got involved from a family friend, Kip Madsen. Kip's daughter Emma lost her battle to cancer in July 2006. Her beautiful face graced our golf course later that year for the 2006 Heroes for Children Golf Classic, and two teams of men wearing "Team Emma" golf shirts golf in her memory. Since that event, Bud has become more involved, serving as a member of the golf committee in both 2007 and 2008. Each year, you can be sure to find him on the course with his Team Emma golf shirt, supporting the inspiration that brought him to our organization.

Bud Lowry (second to the left) with his team in October 2008 at the Heroes for Children Golf Classic. Emma's dad, Kip, is on the far left, next to Bud.

Name, Occupation:

Bud Lowry – Occupation CPA- Self Employed

How did you get involved with HFC?

Through my good friends Kathy and Kip Madsen and their loss of their daughter Emma in July 2006.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

Four Cats

Favorite place to eat:

Three Forks

What’s on your book shelf?
The Only Kayak – Kim Heacox
It’s Not About the Bike - Lance Armstrong
One Magical Sunday – Phil Mickelson

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
John Denver, Neil Diamond, Journey, The Big Chill soundtrack, Elton John, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen

Who’s your hero?
Every American Soldier who has signed a blank check to serve this great country of ours up to and including the ultimate cost.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Volunteers Preparing to be Holiday Heroes

Everyday, I read applications for financial assistance for families battling childhood cancer. I see applications for laptops, our Milestones program, and our direct financial assistance program. With each one I read, I silently thank Allie for bringing the child and family into my life, and I remind myself how very lucky we were during Allie's treatment. We didn't struggle to keep our lights on. We had strong family support surrounding us with love. We asked for things, such as our dog to be taken care of or our laundry to be done, and it was taken care of. Many families going through the battles of childhood cancer cannot say the same.

This month is our big Holiday Heroes project. Holiday Heroes adopts families for the holiday season to help bring them hope, love, and hopefully some happiness during a difficult time in their life. With the help of more than 140 volunteers, we are adopting 40 families from all across the state for the holiday. We have volunteers through our women's auxiliary, HFC Friends, in Dallas helping us with 26 families in North Texas. There is a sorority group in San Antonio, and volunteers through our Heroes and Handbags group in Houston helping (though we do need a few more volunteers in Houston to help and shop this Friday morning with me and Danielle, if you're interested, email me).

The applications were all due on Friday. All last week, they steadily came in. Wow. These families we're adopting are going more things than I could possible imagine. Like the family of a single mother with her five children barely able to meet the bare necessities (HFC paid to keep her lights on last month). A Christmas? Not going to happen for that family without us. How about the family whose child has been in the ICU for exactly two months as of today? The mom hasn't left her son's side and dad is only working sporadically while the other siblings are shuffled around. Of course, there is the family who adopted four children and then their biological child got diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to Hurricane Ike, the family's home has more than $35,000 worth of damage.

Above: Melech (front left), his aunt and her three other children see their gifts for Holiday Heroes
I'm truly humbled seeing what the families ask for. A family who has a 3 and a half year old with cancer, a 2 year old, and a baby merely asked for Hot wheels and tractors for the boys and diapers for the baby. Diapers. That's it. Of course, with a $1,000 per family to spend, we're going to make sure they have a great holiday. We'll get them diapers, diapers, and more diapers, and I suspect even more for the baby that might just be for fun too.

Above: Volunteer Stephanie Duncan (left) and me, Jenny Scott, (right) wrapping gifts for a family

We shop for four days in the next two weeks in four different cities. It will take four staff members to help shop being that we have to be in different locations with our volunteers to pay for all the items (no, we don't need donations for the program. We are luckily blessed to be able to fully fund this program--volunteers simply help me shop, wrap, and deliver--not give monetarily). In December, we will give out the gifts. In Dallas and Ft. Worth, we're lucky enough to be able to throw parties for the families through the generosity of the Pi Phi's of SMU and a health honor society at TCU. One day, we will hopefully have a stronger presence in Houston to be able to do the same type of thing there as well. For now, we're glad to be able to do what we can there.

Above: Holiday Heroes family recicipent with volunteers at the Pi Phi House party last year

I know that in the next two weeks as I stand in line to shop for these families, I am once again going to be silently thanking my sweet Allie for bringing these families into my life and allowing me the opportunity to help them, even if it is just by finding a Wii to put under a Christmas tree this year.

NOTE: HFC Friends is still accepting membership for the 2008--2009 membership year. All activities are volunteer based and do not require anyone to fundraise. Membership is only $40 but makes a BIG difference in the lives of the families we help---just ask the forty families getting assistance through Holiday Heroes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Laptops for Love holds a very special place in my heart. Created in memory of cancer patient, Jordan Morgan, it is an avenue to provide a relief to the isolation and depression many teens experience during their cancer experience. It is a way to allow them to stay connected with friends and family in a time in their life when their social life and friends far outweigh other issues in their life. So far this year, Heroes for Children has provided more than sixty-five laptops to teens living in the hospital with cancer. Already today, we have received three applications for teens living at both Children's Medical Center of Dallas and Cook Children's of Ft. Worth.

While I can tell you the benefits of a laptop, I think it is best explained through the words of a social worker in an application placed today. The application is for a sixteen year old young man. The laptop will be delivered this week. Here it is:
Patient has completed treatment. He had to repeat the ninth grade. Before his diagnosis he was an A student. Now he is a B and C student. He recently had neuropsychological testing. He is having trouble with his memory and is struggling with algebra and chemistry. He is not in school full time due to not feeling well. The family has one computer, and mom has requested a laptop for Carson's use. Before patient's diagnosis both parents were working, and now only dad is working full time. They have to pay patient's school tuition which was discounted in the past when mom taught at his school. They also have medical bills.
Thankfully, we have a supply of laptops available for distribution and this young man will not have to wait to get his laptop through Laptops for Love.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McCain, Obama??? Neither, vote for LILLY!!

I have to take a moment to brag on my sweet family, (yes, I WILL tie it all back to Heroes for Children!) My baby girl, Lilly Linton, is up for "the most kissable baby", a contest on a local Dallas Radio Station. The winner receives $5000, which we will donate a good bit of that back to Heroes for Children, to help families who have a child with cancer. It would be amazing if her beautiful face, could help a family in need. You can vote once a day per computer, it will also email you to verify your vote, please be sure to click on that link, or your vote will not be counted. So, forget all this political mumbo jumbo, and cast your vote for LILLY!!They will narrow it down to the top 25 after this Friday, October 24th.
She is pretty stinking cute!!

Also, my oldest daughter did a beautiful thing this summer, and I have intended to blog about it. Tristyn, cut eight inches off of her hair and donated it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign. They make wigs for people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. Tristyn grew her hair out for over a year, and actually cut it on what would have been her big sister, Taylor's tenth birthday. What a beautful way to honor and celebrate the life of Taylor.
Way to go Tristyn.

Do I have some amazing kids or what?!?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Golfing for Good

The Heroes for Children Golf Classic is coming up on us quickly! This Friday, October 17th, golfers take the course at the Golf Club of Twin Creeks for a day of golf for a good cause. We have availability for teams and individual players for both the morning (7:30am tee off) and afternoon (1:30pm tee off) shotgun starts.

In 2001, friends and family coordinated "Tee Off for Taylor" to support Taylor Brewton's family during her medical treatment. Once Taylor's Angels was created in 2002, the tournament became the first event of the organization. Since our transition to Heroes for Children in late 2004, the golf tournament has continued to support the mission of Heroes for Children. Golfers are reminded of the cause on the course, with pictures of children we serve marking each hole.

This year's event features a ball drop chance to win a suite at the American Airlines Center, a chance to shoot for $10,000 CASH, longest drive and closest to the pin contests, raffle prizes ranging from days of golf to gift certificates at Hooters (I know, I know), and gift cards for every player to the PGA Tour Superstore!

To register a team or individual for Friday's big event, please contact Special Events Coordinator, Danielle Soffa, at

Hope to see you on the green!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mia's Valiant Battle

This precious little girl Mia sadly lost her life to cancer, but because of Heroes for Children, both of her parents were able to be with her for the final days of her life. The day before Mia passed away her parents had written us a thank you note for the financial assistance we had sent them, but before they had to time to drop the letter in the mail, precious Mia passed away. Below are their letters to Heroes for Children.

9/20/08- Letter written to HFC a day before Mia passed away
You have been very kind to our family and we will never forget your kindness. It’s a beautiful legacy your children Taylor and Allison have with Heroes for Children. Children are a great inspiration. My family’s life has also been inspired by our youngest daughter Mia. She has taught us many things. We will never be the same from this experience. We pray we become better people for our family, friends, and society. As something as wonderful as Heroes for Children has blossomed from the passing of your beautiful children, we too pray for something wonderful when Mia passes. Mia has fought and fought. Unfortunately, the doctors say the cancer will take her life. Your help during these times has been very important. As you already know, finances don’t go away no matter what tragedy your family may be in. And it’s also easy to forget the rest of the world when one of your children is so terribly sick. Thank God your organization exists for us who forget the world keeps turning regardless if you’re there or not. God’s best to your organization.

9/24/08- Note scribbled on the back of Mia’s funeral card
Thank you so much for your support. You can read Mia’s obituary in the Star Telegram. We love and miss her very much. Thank you for allowing us to concentrate our efforts on her life. Your support provided us to do this.

These letters are a testament to how vital financial assistance is for these families so they can focus on the child and not have to worry about other trivial life matters.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Helping Hands

There were so many people across Texas that have been affected by Hurricane Ike. Young cancer patients are no exception. As most of you know, we help families who have children at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, as well as M.D. Anderson in Houston. Many of the families there come in from outlying areas. When they do, they need a place to stay while their child is receiving treatment. Due to Hurricane Ike, The Ronald McDonald House in Houston is closed for at least two months, due to flooding damage. Almost every local hotel is booked. This creates a MAJOR problem for the social workers, as they try to find places for their kids to stay so they can receive the treatment they need.
This is one of many ways Heroes for Children steps in to help. Last week, we received a request from Texas Children's Hospital for a 21 year old who has Ewing's Sarcoma. He lives in Oklahoma, but is receiving his treatment in Houston. He needed to come in for treatment, and was in critical condition. There were no vacancies at the hotels in Houston. He was unable to make the lengthy round trip due to his condition. HFC paid for a hotel room in Plano, TX., about half the distance to Houston for his family to spend the night in, to break up the trip. We were also able to help them out with the costs of fuel for the long trip to Houston.
As the year comes to a close, please remember Heroes for Children in your year end giving to enable us to continue helping families like this one who so desperately need our help.

Friday, October 3, 2008

October Volunteer of the Month

Charities need volunteers to assist with so many various tasks. Work can be found in the way of soliciting raffle prizes for an event, coordinating programs to assist the mission of the organization, fundraising for a major event, and so much more. Without those volunteers, our organization would be struggling. It is through the passion and dedication of others we are able to strengthen our mission. But there is the other kind of volunteer too. The kind that doesn't mind coming to the charity office to do data entry, seal envelopes and address mailings. The kind that will come in on a frequent basis to assist with the everyday work that needs to be done in the charity office. The kind that allows those of us at the staff to better do our jobs. This month's Volunteer of the Month highlights someone who is helping us each week complete our office tasks.

After a major event with many new participants, how do you handle the data entry that is involved? Luckily for Heroes for Children, our answer has been call on our volunteer Cindy Morgan! Each week, Cindy takes her spot in front of our volunteer computer to help with input of information. She never complains of the amount of work (which is quite a bit, to be honest), but simply gets to work on the task given to her that week.

We are so thankful for volunteers like Cindy and those others that come to the HFC office. If you are interested in coming to volunteer, please contact our Programs Task Force Coordinator, Christi Disch, for more information. And with that, I'm going to turn it over to Cindy and her answers to our monthly Volunteer of the Month Questionnaire.

Name, Occupation:
Cindy Morgan, Homemaker

How did you get involved with HFC?
I had run one of the HFC 5K races. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that I believed in –and HFC seemed perfect!

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
1 daughter, 3 dogs

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
I love movies based on Jane Austen novels.

Favorite place to eat:
I like a lot of places by my favorite is Chipotle. I also like the salads at Cheddars.

What’s on your book shelf?
Several magazines (Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, etc). For my birthday I just received The English American by Alison Larkin.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
A variety of music from the 70’s (Paul McCartney and Wings) to today (Lifehouse).

Who’s your hero?
I admire people in my life who demonstrate qualities like strength, compassion, and dedication. My husband and my mother are good examples. The leader of my Sunday school class is another.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The 5K Makes Great Strides

With the hard work of our 5K co-chairs the Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk was our best 5K yet. We had over 1,200 participants registered and over $50,000 raised. The threat of Hurricane Ike did keep some people away but not everyone. We made it through most the morning without any rain but not long after the 5K started we started to feel the drops slowly coming down. Of course the rain did pick up a bit from there but it didn’t down pour until all the 5K finishers were through the finish line and awards were just about done being handed out. With the help of the dedicated 5K committee and wonderful volunteers the 5K was packed up pretty quickly as the rain came down harder. The very unfortunate issue with the rain was that the Eddie Coker concert was canceled and the sounds system was packed up rather quickly. Eddie Coker has promised to back next year and we can’t wait.

The moments of the day for me were watching a young boy, Kevin, who is battling cancer come across the finish line in his wheel chair with his mom and dad on either side of him. His team was also there to cheer him on. Watching over 500 yellow balloons along with 2 red heart balloons go up into the skies overhead on Allie Day. There is one more moment for me (on a little more selfish note) my little guy ran the whole fun run in 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Pretty good for a 5 year old!

I’m pretty sure I can tell you the moment of the day for our Grand Marshall, Carson, a little boy that has been battling Stage 4 Hepatablastoma, a rare and aggressive liver cancer, for the past two years, and his older brother, Collin. I am 99% sure it was when they got to meet Jason “The Jet” Terry from the Dallas Mavericks. The boys got to ride in the pace car with Jason for both the fun run and the 5K. They had a blast.

We loved seeing all the teams that were formed this year. Many of those teams were formed by families that Heroes for Children has helped. Team Joseph was in memory of a 13 year old boy who passed away in Jan 2007. Their team was the highest fundraising team with over $6,800 raised. Carson’s Crusaders, a team in honor of our Grand Marshall Carson, was awarded best team spirit and outstanding team captain. The largest team award went to Express Cheer of Frisco.

Overall, the 5K was a huge success and we thank everyone that was involved in the 2008 Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Have you registered yet?

If your answer is no that you haven’t registered yet for the Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk happening Saturday morning at the Shops at Legacy and if you would rather be sleeping in under nice cozy covers and miss the chance of rain that is possibly headed our way then go ahead. Here is your excuse to miss the race and still give to a good cause. Visit here to give your $25 registration fee and go back to sleep and dream happy thoughts for those who have been affected by childhood cancer.

And if your answer is no and you (like me) are willing to take a chance on Hurricane Ike, there is still time. Registration starts at 6:30am tomorrow morning!

And if your answer is yes, you have registered already we will see you tomorrow morning rain or shine!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September Volunteers of the Month

HFC supporters, I must apologize. Our Volunteer of the Month segment has fallen by the wayside since May. Not because we don't have incredible volunteers who have worked through the summertime to help our organization. Of course, we do. It is through no fault of a volunteer, not at all. I take the blame. Between cancer camp, summer vacation with family, and preparations for the fall, I fell short on my Volunteer of the Month responsibility.

Not to worry, we're back and ready to recognize our fabulous volunteers! This month is highlight two women working as committee members for the 5K Run/Walk happening this weekend. Holly Holcomb and Melissa Garfield are more than just co-workers. They are more than just best friends who share work lives together. They are also sisters-in-law! That's right, you read it--best friend sisters-in-law who both work and volunteer together. What a team!
When my daughter Allie had cancer, both ladies followed her story on the internet because my husband worked at their company. Once Heroes for Children began, they started as participants of the 5K and last year were the team captains of the largest team of participants, the Super Sadie team in honor of baby Sadie's battle with cancer (a co-worker's granddaughter). This year, we were so fortunate that they said yes to our reques to serve as members of the Registration Committee for the 5K Run/Walk (did I mention it's happening THIS Saturday? At the Shops at Legacy?? Oh, well, it is, and you should be there!)
Below are Holly and Melissa's answers to our fun Volunteer of the Month questionnaire. I've had the honor and pleasure in getting to know them better this year through our work on this event. Every time I'm with them, I leave smiling. Their kindness exudes into everything they do. They have big hearts and warm smiles, and I'm so glad to share them with you all!
Thank you, ladies for you time and commitment to Heroes for Children. You're terrific!
Name, Age, Occupation:

Holly Holcomb, 38
Escrow Accountant

Melissa Garfield, 38
Escrow Accountant

How did you get involved with HFC?

Holly: I was captivated by Allie’s story, and read her website daily…I attended the candlelight vigil, and was really shocked that I felt like I knew Jenny and Allie. I followed Jenny to her new blog, and found out about HFC. I’ve been a supporter of the charity, and try to fundraise and attend everything I can! I was more than happy when Jenny asked if I wanted to be on the registration committee for the 1mile/5K walk this year!
Melissa: I got involved with HFC after following Allie’s story. I stopped sitting around wondering what I could do to help and finally decided to do something.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

Holly: Not yet.

Melissa: I got involved with HFC after following Allie’s story. I stopped sitting around wondering what I could do to help and finally decided to do something.
From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

Holly: I’m very shy and insecure
Melissa: I am terrified of frogs. This is not a good thing considering that I have a little boy that thinks that it is hilarious to chase me with those nasty little creatures!

Favorite place to eat:

Holly: ANYTHING Tex-Mex!

Melissa: Unfortunately for my waistline, I’m not a picky eater. I don’t really have a favorite restaurant, but my favorite meals usually involve chips and salsa.

What’s on your book shelf?

Holly: I have the full library of Janet Evanovich books, all 3 of Jen Lancaster’s books, a lot of James Patterson, David Baldacci, Dean Koontz…and I actually bought a Judi Picoult book but haven’t started it.

Melissa: Unfortunately, every book in our house belongs to my husband or my kids. My only contribution to the shelf would be the dust that is on it. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I haven’t had the energy to read a book in a very long time.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?

Holly: Everything under the sun…minus country music. I have Dave Matthews, Sting, One Republic, ABC, Chris Cornell, America, BeeGees, Justin Timberlake, INXS…
Melissa: Along with not keeping up with my reading, I am way behind in the music world. I don’t remember the last CD that I bought and I don’t even own an iPod! When I’m in the car, I just flip through the radio stations, but spend most of the time listening to the bickering in the backseat.

Who’s your hero?

Holly: I can’t name any ONE person! I can just say that anyone who makes me want to be a better person is my hero. That would include my parents, my best friends, my friends through HFC…I believe everyone at one time or another is a true hero.

Melissa: This is a really hard question, but I think that one of the people I look up to most would be Holly. Not only is she my co-worker and sister-in-law, she is also my very best friend. Her kindness goes way beyond that of anyone I’ve ever known. She gives so much of her time and energy to her family and friends, without EVER asking for or expecting anything in return. If someone needs help, she doesn’t hesitate to jump in, most of the time without even being asked. Whether that means watching a niece or nephew at the last minute, picking up food for a sick friend or making a donation of time or money to an organization that she finds worthy, she is there for everyone. I’ve known her for over twenty years and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that I could be more like Holly…kind, generous, forgiving, supportive, thoughtful, and selfless. I’m sure she doesn’t know it, but she is and always will be a hero in my eyes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Name, New Look

Thank you to everyone that has contributed a name idea for our Name This Blog Contest. We're excited to unveil both the new name and new look of the Heroes for Children blog, HEROES HEARTBEAT.

Thank you to Jillian in AUSTRALIA (how crazy is that? Our winner is from Australia. Our Texas charity sure is doing BIG things!) for your name submission. You have won a blog makeover from Ruby & Roja.

What do you think of the new digs? We sincerely hope you like it. The summer was a slower time for our staff, allowing us time to rejuvenate and energize for our fall season. Be on the lookout for more updates on this blog in the upcoming months regarding volunteers (Volunteer of the Month section will be back this month!), and inspirational stories of those cancer patients that inspire us each day.

And so we ask you--what do you want us to write about? What would you like to see on this blog?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Register for the 4th Annual 5K Run/Walk

It's Semptember and that means one thing around here--we're gearing up for the Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk!! September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Honoring the battle and courage of cancer patients and their families across Texas, the 5K Run/Walk is a community event for all ages.

Mark your calendar and join us there!

When: Saturday, September 13th

Where: Shops at Legacy, Plano

Time: Registration opens at 6:30am. 1 Mile Fun Run at 7:45 and 5K at 8:15am

Features: bounce houses, face painting, roaming performers such as clowns, magicians, Sweet & Sassy hot pink limo with fun glitter spray for hair, ambulance and fire truck for the kids to explore, Arby's, and MUCH MORE

Live Concert from Eddie Coker at 9:30am

Mayor Pat Evans will declare the day Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Plano, and our Grand Marshal, cancer patient Carson Richardson, will lead both races in the pace car.

Hope to see you and your family there. For details on the event and registration, please visit

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

HFC Friends-- Time to Renew or Join

It’s the time of year again to join or renew your membership in HFC Friends. HFC Friends is our women’s auxiliary that provides support to Heroes for Children. In the past HFC Friends focused on fundraising events and volunteer support for Heroes for Children. Under new leadership for the 2008-2009 year, HFC Friends has adopted a new purpose statement.

Purpose Statement

HFC Friends supports the mission of Heroes for Children through volunteer efforts to strengthen and expand social and emotional assistance provided to families with children battling cancer. HFC Friends strives to ensure that the special moments in the lives of these children are recognized and celebrated despite their ongoing battle with cancer.
Throughout the year members are encouraged to help with the social and emotional assistance program Heroes for Children provides for families. These programs include:
• Heroes Milestones— members assist in the coordination of and donations to special events for cancer patients as needs arise throughout the year.
• Holiday Heroes—members shop, wrap, and donate gifts to selected cancer families during the holiday season. The families receive their gifts at a holiday party attended by member volunteers.
• Valentine’s Party—committee members plan, coordinate, and host a special dinner for cancer parents to include a nice meal and childcare. This event is an opportunity for the parents to have a “date night” while their children enjoy a fun evening of activities.

As a benefit of joining HFC Friends, the members and prospective members are invited to a Fall Membership Coffee with special guest speakers and to the Spring Family Picnic held annually in May. See below for great shots from this year's Spring Picnic.

If you are looking for a way to become more involved with HFC and the families we serve--- Consider joining today! From planning a birthday party for a child who has to spend his birthday in the hospital, or wrapping presents for an entire family for Christmas, to planning a date night for parents, some of whom haven’t had the time or energy to go on a date in three years, HFC Friends has got it covered.

If you would like to join HFC Friends click HERE.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Busy Week at Heroes for Children

Wow! We've had so many entries for the naming contest. It's not too late. Make your suggestion on the comment section of the entry below. Even if you don't have a blog to win the makeover, don't hesitate to make your suggestion. We love to hear from you. If you read this from a subscription through Feedblitz, be sure to come over to our site itself to leave us a comment about how you think we're doing.

We've had a busy week to help families with children with cancer. Just this week, we will spend $17,000 in financial assistance to twenty-two families, ship five laptops to teens living with cancer, and plan two Heroes Milestones events. Our assistance includes:

  • Sperm banking for a newly diagnosed teenage boy diagnosed with Germ Cell Carcinoma.
  • A laptop for an eighteen year old year girl with a brain tumor who has battled cancer off and on through remissions since the age of twelve. She hopes to begin college in a month while still keeping up with her cancer treatments.
  • Financial assistance for a young woman, age 17, and her mother to assist with living expenses while they live in Houston displaced from their Louisiana home due to her impending stem cell transplant.
  • Help towards the purchases of basic child needs such as diapers, clothing, and baby food for the siblings of a cancer patient as his treatment has left mom unable to work.
  • Funeral assistance for a seventeen year old male who lost his three year long battle with Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer.
  • Two special parties for cancer patients--one a Sweet Sixteen and the other for a seven year old through our Heroes Milestones program. The Sweet Sixteen is for a young girl with Medulloblastoma, a brain tumor. Given less than six months of life to live, she is combining her sixteenth birthday with a Celebration of Life party. This young lady has been very active in the planning and coordination of her party, happening this Saturday night, providing her a distraction for her current situation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Name this Blog

The “Name Heroes for Children’s Blog Contest” is officially underway!

Our blog needs a new name to go with the new design Ruby & Roja Design is putting together for us! The person who comes up with the winning blog name will receive an amazing prize… a free blog design by Ruby & Roja Design (a $90 value)! Leave your blog name suggestions in the comments section of this post. The contest will end at midnight on July 25, 2008. The winner will be announced on July 30, 2008. Have fun, be creative!

Let the naming begin!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Most Adorable Little Pet Shop

Why we are here!! See below for one family's journey with Leukemia.

“This is the story of Mycha’s battle against childhood cancer. She is a beautiful 5 year old who loves animals (especially horses and unicorns), making crafts, reading, and playing. Her spirit is as bright as the sun.

Mycah was diagnosed with (ALL) Leukemia September 2007.

It started as a persistent fever that wouldn’t go away with normal dr. visit and antibiotic. She was sleepy a lot and just wasn’t improving with the normal treatments. After a couple of dr. visits, we took her to the ER in Waxahachie on Tuesday night, September 18. She was immediately transferred by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Dallas with scary low blood counts.

For 3 agonizing days, we waited for bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, and tests to render a diagnosis. “Leukemia”…. The word just hung in the air as my worst fears were confirmed by the doctors.

Mycah went straight into remission after only a few chemo treatments. We made the decision to then place Mycah in a clinical trial where she was randomized into one of four treatment arms. The decision was extremely difficult, but was made in faith.

Mycah bagan “Maintenance Therapy” in April of 2008. She goes for chemo in the clinic once a month and will do so for the next 2 years. She has had much success through the tough 7 months of intense chemo treatments. She is in remission, has not been readmitted to the hospital since her initial diagnosis week, has sailed through her protocol chemo phases and is doing great! We are gracious for all of these miracles.

We would like to especially thank the Heroes for Children organization for their support during this time. Cancer puts a strain on families in many ways and we are thankful for the role Heroes for Children has played in our journey. We are touched by the generosity and legacy of Taylor Anne and Allison Leigh. Our prayers are with this organization as well as the families who suffered such a loss for its sake.”

Thank you all for being supporters of Heroes for Children. Because of you, we are able to help adorable pet lovers like Mycah and her famiy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who I Am

I am a wife to a loving and understanding husband and a mom to 2 beautiful and wonderful kids, Brayden, age 5 and Kennedy, age 3. Before coming to Heroes for Children I worked for a nonprofit blood bank in California. When my son was born in 2003 I became a stay at home. We moved our family of 3 to Texas in 2004. Right around this time, I was involved in an online mom’s board and two days after Allie was diagnosed with AML there was a site message that took us to (yes, I was one of those internet stalkers). I was immediately captivated by those blue eyes and her mom’s strength. I remember staying up late hoping for the day’s update, many times reading through tears. I remember being in awe of how much courage Jenny had to share every bit of Allie with so many people. Shortly after moving to Texas we found out we were pregnant with our baby girl. When Allie passed away I so badly wanted to go to her funeral but I felt I would be intruding on this family I only knew through the computer. I continued to follow Allie’s story. When Jenny and Larissa started HFC I knew I wanted to get involved but I also had a 6 month old (who screamed A LOT!!) and a 2 year old with no family in the area to help me with babysitting. I participated in the 5K in 2005 to support HFC and still knew that I wanted and needed to get involved with the organization.

In the fall of 2007, Brayden started his last year of preschool and at registration time (that happens 8 months before the school year starts) I didn’t register Kennedy, thinking she wouldn’t be ready. But of course she proved me wrong the first day of school when she kicked and screamed “where is my class,” while I dragged her away and right pass the director. She gave me one of those I told you so looks but also offered to see what she can find for Kennedy. Oh the excitement I felt walking out of that school that morning. I was going to have both my kids in school 2 days a week. It took 2 months for them to find a spot for Kennedy but once they did, both Kennedy and I were hooked...preschool rocks!

By January I was feeling the need to do something with my free time. I had too much of it apparently. So I finally filled out the volunteer form for HFC! In March I started with addressing envelopes and that progressed to volunteering every Monday in the office while my kids were at preschool. Jenny and I hit it off and I feel like we walked into each other’s lives at the precise moment we needed to. When Jenny started talking to me about coming to work for HFC I was ecstatic to be offer the opportunity to not only do what I love to do (events) but to be working for such an amazing organization, I couldn’t resist. Though I do admit I had a few “what I am doing going back to work after being a stay at home mom for 5 years” moments during the 2 month approval process. But I couldn’t ask for a better job, with wonderful co-workers, and being able to make a difference in people’s lives.

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Addition to the HFC Team!

We've had some changes around the Heroes for Children office. Christi Disch has moved over to become our Program Services Coordinator. Christi's main responsibility will be working on ensuring the mission of the organization are fulfilled through things such as Heroes Milestones, Laptops for Love, and other special services to families with children battling cancer. She will lead the HFC Friends Women's Auxiliary, along with our 2008--2009 President Christie Cahoon to coordinate volunteers to impact families as well. We're thrilled to have Christi in this new role.

With this change came the need for a new Special Events Coordinator. I'm very excited to announce that Danielle Soffa has joined our team! Danielle started last week with Heroes for Children and is already hard at work on the Heroes for Children Golf Classic and the 5K Run/Walk.

I don't want to steal her time in the spotlight. I'll let her tell you all about herself and why she's involved with Heroes for Children. In the meantime, please join me in welcoming Danielle to the HFC team!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shining Star Jocelyn Celebrates 15 in Style!!

Jocelyn’s Quinceanera was a night for her and her family to remember for a lifetime. With the help of HFC Friends and other Heroes for Children supporters we were able to provide Jocelyn with a fantastic Quinceanera Celebration.

Jocelyn arrived in style at the Hampton Inn in Mesquite at 7:00 PM. She was welcomed by the Hampton staff and multiple Heroes for Children volunteers. She arrived in a stretch Hummer with her 12 attendants, her date, and a few other friends.

Thanks to many gracious supporters of Heroes for Children, we were able to provide Jocelyn with the party of a lifetime. She wanted a star theme with light blue and silver colors- so we filled the room with balloons and stars. The balloons were donated by Balloons Everyday .The venue and food were donated by John Q Hammond Hotels (They run the Hampton in Mesquite). Mesquite High School Hospitality students and Hampton Managers were the servers. The dress, accessories, cake, and limo were all donated by HFC Friends members. The glowing floral centerpieces were arranged by Megan Williamson, our resident graphic/ floral designer:) And HFC Volunteers came to help set-up and tear down. We can’t thank you all enough for helping us celebrate Jocelyn’s life in such an extravagant manner.

The best quote of the evening was from Jocelyn’s father, “ I just want to thank Heroes for Children for making my baby girl’s dream come true!”. Jocelyn and her family thanked us profusely for providing them with this special celebration!

Check out NBC for a great segment from the event.

Event photos courtesy of the fabulous Taylor Made Messages (Taylor Pointer) and Haute Shot Photography (Jennifer Zindler). Pre-event photos courtesy of Stacy Sims .

Friday, May 23, 2008

Million Reasons to Celebrate

Heroes for Children provides a million to families!

Since January 2005, Heroes for Children has been serving families in Texas with children battling cancer. This month, we celebrate a huge milestone--a MILLION dollars spent on programs for families since 2005!

That's right, more than a million dollars has been spent to help families keep their homes, cars, pay for utilities, and find financial relief during cancer treatment. More than 1,250 requests for assistance have been fulfilled, 105 laptops donated, 25 families helped during the holidays, and nine children served through our newest program, Heroes Milestones.

Join us in providing the next million! Volunteer at the Heroes for Children office, participate in an event such as our 5K Run/Walk in September, join an event committee, be a super hero through the Super Heroes Birthday Club or make a donation to provide for families in need. You can make a difference for a family struggling through a cancer diagnosis!

Thank you for your support. We thank you--a million times!


Jenny Scott & Larissa Linton


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Heroes Milestones-- Quinceanera

Heroes for Children is planning a Quinceanera for the Heroes Milestones program. With the help of HFC Friends we are providing a young woman with the Quinceanera of her dreams.

Jocelyn has been battling cancer for over a year now. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her knee. After the first 3 month round of chemo, she was then told that she needed to have a complete knee replacement to insure all of the infected bone was removed. The operation seemed to be a success. Following the surgery she had to proceed with 7 more months of treatment. If being in the hospital secluded from friends and family was not bad enough, during this time her mother who was already staying home from work to help take care of Jocelyn, had given birth to a little boy. While this brought joy to everyone, they soon found out that he too would have a life of ups and downs and struggles for he was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Jocelyn completed her 11 months of treatments and was told she looked to be in the clear. Her body responded well to the chemo and all of the cancer was removed, but then her doctors noticed that her heart had taken an immense beating throughout the chemotherapy. She now waits to see if she will need a heart transplant on top of everything else that she was already gone through.

Her family has been burdened with outrageous medical bills and was unable to plan a Quinceanera for Jocelyn. Heroes for Children, with the help of HFC Friends has stepped in to provide Jocelyn with this great celebration for her and her family.

On May 31st, Jocelyn will have the opportunity to share her coming of age with friends and family. Thanks to everyone for their contributions and effort to make this event a memorable one for Jocelyn. With the generous support of HFC Friends, we have provided Jocelyn with her dress and accessories, cake, invitations and much more!

If you would like to help with the event, we need a few more odds and ends and a few volunteers. Please contact Christi if you would like more information about the Quinceanera or Heroes Milestones.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Letter of Thanks

Heroes for Children recently assisted a young man, Anthony, with both financial assistance as well as a gift of a laptop through our Laptops for Love program. Today, this letter of thanks was in our mail.....

Dear Heroes for Children,

Thank you for helping my son and our family. At first, when the social worker at the hospital told us about your organization and your willingness to help, I was overwhelmed, feeling we did not deserve such generosity and kindness. I personaly have never been good at asking for or accepting help, but we are learning. Since my son's diagnosis on December 8, 2007, life has been a whirlwind. There has been so much too learn. Learn about cancer, learn about nutrition, medicines, shots, side effects, blood counts, clinic, hospitals, insurance, and all this information felt like it was coming at us all at one time. Add to that worrying about finances and loss of income. Your generosity has helped ease our immediate needs. Thank you!

My 17 year old son, my only child, a senior in high school was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer. The mass was located around his heart and trachea, and he was in very serious condition when we arrived at Cook Children's Medical Center. Ten days in ICU and then another seven on the cancer floor. After four rounds of chemo and 14 days of radiation we now hope and pray that the cancer is gone and that minimal damage, or better yet no damage, has been done to his heart and lungs.

Anthony is doing well as he has throughout treatment. He has been an inspiration to me and those he comes into contact with. He has remained positive through this experience. It has changed him, not just physically, or medically, but at his core. His compassion for others has grown. He has always been a very sincere young man, but it seems more so now.

On June 1, 2008, Anthony will graduate with his class as a Texas Scholar. In August, he will attend the Texas Massage Institute and in the spring of 2009 will begin college studying to become a Doctor of Chiropractics.

Again, I thank you so much. Your organization truly did make a difference!


Anthony's mom

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Volunteers of the Month

I love when families get involved together in volunteering their time! This month's Volunteer of the Month entry comes in a pair. Angie and Phillip Knight are both getting involved this year with our 5K Run/Walk. Phillip serves as our Sponsorship Chiar, and Angie is working with Logistics. We're lucky to have such great families like the Knights involved with Heroes for Children. The added bonus is that they are so fun to be around! I truly enjoy being around them each and every time. My daughter LOVES to play with their daughter, Natalie!

Happy reading! I'm sure you will love the Knights as much as we do!

Name, Age, Occupation:
Angie Knight, 32, Stay home Mom/Educational Diagnostician
Phillip Knight, 33 (I’m technically 3 months older than her, but way behind in the maturity factor), Information Systems Manager, Merit Energy Company

How did you get involved with HFC?
Allan and Jennifer Rayson were our original “recruiters” for the Heroes 5K event. The timing was impeccable, as we were both looking for ways to be more involved in the community.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
We have two kids, Mason (4) and Natalie (2). We had a cat named Chico who ran away once he found out we were having our second child. J We had an iguana when we first got married, but let it loose on a country road half-way to Denton. According to our calculations, he should be about 100 feet long by now and could swallow a human being. You might lock the car doors if you’re driving in the area.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
Angie – I once got kicked out of a soccer game for fighting…. And I have a lovely tattoo…. My parents are so proud!
Phillip – I once had long hair (Angie will admit she was jealous of my golden locks back then). I like to call that my Grateful Dead phase. I think Angie gets a little nervous when I zone out in my guitar jam sessions every now and then. Ahhhhh good times…

Favorite place to eat:
Angie – Nobu (Sushi)
Phillip – without a doubt Nobu. I habitually crave that raw tuna!

What’s on your book shelf?
A bunch of technology books about programming with some funny looking guy on the back of the book (Angie wrote that). Also some special education books, inspirational /devotional books and a bible.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
We’re about as diverse as could be….
Angie admits to Top 40, jazz, Madonna, techno for workout purposes, Sarah McLachlan & Nora Jones.
Phillip admits to just about every other genre out there (with a tendency to avoid top 40). Classical, Classic Rock, Alternative/Metal, Country, Hip-Hop/Rap, Blues, Reggae, Jazz…and of course the jam bands.

Who’s your hero?
Angie – my grandmother. A strong woman of faith who raised 5 boys and survived!
Phillip – Angie’s mother (and father). I admire anyone that survived 18 years with my wife and lived to tell about it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Power of the Purse

Heroes for Children is proud to announce the final totals of Heroes and Handbags 2008! Our Houston event raised a total of $329,000, and the Dallas event held one week later raised $332,000! With a combined total of $661,000, Heroes and Handbags was a tremendous success!

Ladies and handbags really is the perfect combination, don't you think? Thank you to all the special people that made this event happen. We are very grateful to have such incredible supporters behind the organization to help create such success events such as these two.

The best part about raising so much? Helping families like this sweet little girl's, Morgan. Worth every minute of planning.

Photos courtesy of Brett Chisholm Photography

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April Volunteer of the Month

Please excuse our tardiness on this post regarding this month's Volunteer of the Month. Heroes and Handbags was all consuming! Luckily, we had volunteers like Danielle to help throughout the time! I'm so excited to share this months volunteer, Danielle Soffa, with our readers. Danielle has recently started volunteering on a consistent basis with the staff at Heroes for Children. I've gotten used to seeing her in the office every Monday morning at the volunteer computer in our workroom assisting with post event wrap details. We've had her alphabetizing, entering data, and sorting handbags. She's done it all with a smile! Besides her office volunteer time, she has also joined the Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk committee with the Logistics groups. It's Danielle's job to make sure that we have enough snacks and goodies at the event. Not a small feat for an expected crowd of 1,500 participants, but she'll do great!

Name, Age, Occupation:

Danielle Soffa, 30, mom and wife

How did you get involved with HFC?

I followed Allie's story from very early on. I read Jenny's daily updates and was amazed by her strength and courage. I thought of Allie often and prayed for a miracle. When HFC was started I had 2 small children but I knew I wanted to get involved so when both my kids started going to preschool, I vowed to get involved and started volunteering weekly in the HFC office.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

I have 2 wonderful kids, Brayden 5 and Kennedy 3, and two mischievous dogs.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

Something about me you won’t know is that I have complete 3 sprint distance triathlons and a marathon.

Favorite place to eat:

Anywhere that serves macaroni and cheese to make my kids happy so that I can enjoy my meal...I don't get out kid-less much ;)

What’s on your book shelf?

Everything written by Nicholas Sparks, The Official Guide to Walt Disney World, To Kill a Mockingbird and My Sister's Keeper by Judi Picoult will be there soon once I finish reading it.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?

Lots of country music...Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and then a mix of others...Home by Daughtry, Bubbly by Colbie Caillat, Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a few American Idol downloads and my most recent addition...I'm a Little Teapot (Kennedy's dance recital song).

Who’s your hero?

My hero is my sister-in-law Tracy. She is a full-time teacher as well as a professional triathlete. Just hearing her training schedule tires me out but she gets up at 4am every morning to train and then finishes what she didn’t get to after teaching all day. Her dedication, strength, endurance, courage, and charisma inspire me daily. And the fact that she puts up with my brother is a feat in itself!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Heroes and Handbags x 2!!

Wow!! What an incredible two weeks it has been!! Preparing for our largest two fundraisers to occur within 10 days of each other is quite a feat!! Luckily, we have an amazing office staff, and two amazing event chairs, Elizabeth Gambrell in Dallas, and Mary Lou Fernandez in Houston. We are also blessed with a committee of dedicated, hardworking volunteers who work hard for over 10 months to make these events the huge successes that they are!
Houston Heroes and Handbags was held on Wednesday, March 26th at River Oaks Country Club. With a silent auction of over 160 handbags to bid on, the champagne was flowing and the 500 plus women (and a few lucky men) were in shopping heaven!!
Valobra donated a GORGEOUS custom designed diamond ring with two hearts on it, especially for Heroes for Children. The hearts representing Taylor and Allie. One lucky lady won the raffle and wore it home on her finger! What a prize!! Elaine Turner and her crew were there with a huge display of Elaine Turner bags up for grabs! As I cruised by the table, many of them had already been sold with the "buy it now" option!! No surprise, as her bags are gorgeous! They also had on hand the Taylor and Allie bags available for presale, with 50% of the sale going back to Heroes! All morning line the ladies were lined up to purchase these great bags! Also, we had a special treat and surprise as Chloe Dao, the Season Two winner from Project Runway showed up with one of her sisters! Jenny was thrilled as she is a HUGE Project Runway fan!!
As we moved into the dining room for brunch, we were treated to a moving and at times hilarious speech by Brian Moreno. Brian is one of our board members, and his son, Austin, is being treated for leukemia. Brian reminded the crowd that childhood cancer could happen to any of our kids, and rallied the ladies (and gents) to fill out their donor cards for Heroes for Children!!

Dallas Handbags was held last Friday, April 4th at The Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The wind, rain and cold weather did not deter the 700 plus ladies from making it to this hot ticket event!! Once again, the silent auction room was full with over 180 vintage and designer handbags all up for grabs! From Chanel to Valentino, the choices were endless! Once again, the ladies from Elaine Turner were on hand with a slew of beautiful bags up for auction. I believe over 60 orders were taken for Allie and Taylor bags too! After the auction ended, the group moved into the Chantilly Ballroom and were treated to the moving speech of Jennifer Houser. Jennifer has been very involved with Heroes for Children in many ways. She and her husband, Doug, are our honorary chairs of the event this year. She also serves on our advisory board, and was very involved with Heroes and Handbags this year. Jennifer's son, Ryan, was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2001. Jennifer shared Ryan's story of courage with us. Thankfully, Ryan is healthy and happy. He is a grad student at California State University and is engaged to be married next year. Once again, those in attendance were moved to make a donation and make a difference in the lives of children living with cancer. Another lucky lady won the gorgeous Matthew Trent wraught iron and diamond earrings in the raffle!

At both events we had the pleasure of having several of the families and their children that HFC has assisted there. These children are the reason we work so hard to fundraise for Heroes. They are our mission, and we were blessed to have them there. We also had many of the social workers in attendance. These two events will enable Heroes for Children to continue providing families with much needed financial assistance. Thanks to everyone who attended, i know a great time was had by all! (Hopefully you left with a new handbag on your arm too!) After a long nap, I think I will be ready to start planning for next year!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Real HEROES for Children

(Photo courtesy of Brett Chisholm Photography)
When I was a middle school teacher, people often commented, "I don't know how you do what you do." Of course, they were referring to the drama of working with adolescents, that strange age of 12-14 year olds. One day they liked chocolate ice cream, the next day they hated it. I would chuckle and tell them that it truly wasn't so bad. They were fun, in their own way.

However, I have often thought this same thought when it comes to the medical social workers I have encountered in my job with Heroes for Children. How do they do it? I don't know how they do what they do. How do they work with some of the sickest children in our country each and every day? How do they interact with the parents with the compassion that always seem to come across in their voice? They must be angels. Or possibly heroes. Yes, that must be it. They are heroes.

Did you know that March is National Social Work month? I didn't know that before I got in this career. But I sure do now! One of the joys of my job each day is the daily interaction with the hospital social workers. Check out our ladies at the top of this page (our models--social workers from Texas Children's Hospital--Mital, Bonnie, Arlene, and Jennifer--love these ladies!). When they enter a patient room, they provide so much more then the forms for financial assistance or resources for cancer patients. They bring hope, understanding, and comfort to these families during their darkest times.

I get calls from social workers every day to discuss what we can do for a patient. They champion for their patients and the parents to make sure that those in need receive the resources they deserve through the various community resources available (HFC being one of those). They work tirelessly for their families and treat them all with love and compassion.

They are the real heroes for children. And I am a better person for knowing the many social workers at all the hospitals we work with.

Heroes for Children is honored to work with the social workers at the following hospitals:
  • Medical City Children's Hospital of Dallas
  • Children's Medical Center of Dallas
  • Cook Children's Medical Center of Ft. Worth
  • Christus Santa Rosa Hospital of San Antonio
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center of Houston
  • Texas Children's Cancer Center of Houston

Thank you, ladies. I'm honored to know you all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Perfect Handbag

Elaine Turner is an amazing, generous woman with a heart of gold. Oh yeah, she also happens to be an extremely talented handbag designer!! Elaine has been involved with Heroes for Children since last year, and has played a huge part of Heroes and Handbags. Last year Elaine attended the events in both Dallas and Houston, and her Northpark store hosted our wrap party. She also donated alot of gorgeous Elaine Turner handbags !! This year, she is even more involved and has gone so far to design .....(drum roll, please......) an ALLIE BAG and a TAYLOR BAG!!! The Taylor bag is a gorgeous red bag, (yes, red was Taylor's favorite color!!) The darling yellow bag is the Allie bag!!
Elaine and her FAB team have also announced that they will be donating 50% of the sales of the Allie and Taylor bag back to HFC on the day of the Heroes and Handbags events!! (March 26th and April 4th!!) Let us know if you want one! These are great bags!! We also just had a couple of great photoshoots with Elaine's handbags and SHOES that were posted in a previous blog!!
Thanks to Elaine, Heather and everyone at Elaine Turner for having such a huge heart for HFC!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March Volunteer of the Month

Houston Heroes and Handbags is a little over three weeks away. The tables are bought, the handbags are still being donated, and decorations are being finalized. And in preparation for all the ladies to be seated at the brunch, Page Motes is ready to work. Page is our Reservations Chair for Houston Handbags, serving in her second year as this year. A working mom of two, Page still finds time to volunteer. As a working mom of only one, I find this fact amazing! Finding extra time to do a large part in a very large event isn't easy. And yet, Page doesn't complain. She works hard, and juggles her hectic schedule with such ease (or at least that's what it looks like to an outsider). I'm so proud to have her on our team!

Name, Age, Occupation:
Page Motes, 37, VP of Business Development for Gerson Lehrman Group

How did you get involved with HFC?
A friend of mine, Laura Macicek, invited me to an party to introduce Heroes for Children to the Houston area. I was incredibly moved by Jenny and Larissa’s stories and HFC’s mission. I felt it was not only an amazing organization, but I felt an instant connection with Jenny and Larissa and knew it was the place for me!

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
Two fantastic boys – Sutton, age 5 and Spencer, 8 mos. They’re the light of my life!

Favorite place to eat:
Less fancy – Cyclone Anaya’s (can’t live without queso, guacamole – oh and margaritas!)
Fancy – Bob’s Chop House (I’m a meat eater – what can I say???)

What’s on your book shelf?
A diverse selection – everything from “The McKinsey Way” (business/consulting book), “HOW” (which was recently written and released by my former CEO, and “What To Expect in the First Year” (to look up those weird baby illness symptoms) to the latest from Jennifer Weiner (she rocks!)

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
I’m a HUGE music person with really diverse tastes. I’ve got old Depeche Mode and The Cure, Andrea Bocelli, The Black Eyed Peas, Vivaldi, and even some old school rock with the Scorpions!

Who’s your hero?
Although she’d never really believe it, it’s definitely my mother. She’s spent her entire life caring for others and often putting herself last. She’d tell me today to look out for myself more than she did, but I admire her uncontrollable urge to jump in and help make things better. She was a teacher for 36 years and just retired not too long ago. Her old students STILL look her up and tell her how much she changed their lives for the better. I only pray I could have a fraction of the effect on others that she does!