Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Houston Generosity

When asked for help with our Laptops for Love campaign, supporters at the Underwriting Party and Live Auction in Houston last night responded. Laptops for Love purchases new laptops for teens living in the hospital with cancer. These teens face isolation with days, weeks, and often months in the hospital. Friends are often not admitted into their hospital room due to the risk of infection and germs. Most take an extended leave from school, continuing their work through a homebound teacher.

For a young child, this isolation isn't as challenging as it is for teenagers. Take my daughter for example. A baby diagnosed with cancer at four months old doesn't notice that only grandparents and parents could visit her. She loved her Grandma and Nana and was thrilled to have them see her on an even more frequent basis. She didn't mind that her hair had all fallen out and only had whisps of hair left. She didn't get bored (or if she did, she couldn't tell me) from months at the hospital. But I can't imagine what that experience would have been like if she had been fourteen at diagnosis and not four months old.

Keeping laptops in stock is a challenge for us. They are in high demand! Laptops provided have helped seniors finish high school, give young teens an outlet with things like MySpace and Facebook to keep them occupied, and almost fifty teenagers found hope through this program in 2007. So, last night, I posed the question to a room full of generous supporters during our big party to prepare for the main event--"Who wants to make the difference for one teen tonight?"

Can you believe that we "sold" THIRTY laptops last night?? Thirty more teenagers will receive this gift of hope and love from Heroes for Children. I cannot even begin to tell you how exciting this is! We're well on our way to doubling our gifts to teens in 2007 to provide 100 laptops (we began with an inventory of 32 to purchase).

38 more laptops to sell and we can begin working on setting up a new goal.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Parents=Amazing Heroes

This evening, I had the unique experience to spend time with some of the incredible, amazing oncology parents that have been served by Heroes for Children. Honoring the parents and their own battles with childhood cancer, we hosted a Valentine's Dinner with catered dinner and FREE childcare providing by Mom's Best Friend.

Anyone who has children would agree that it is difficult to get out for a date. Between the cost of childcare and the cost of a nice dinner, it gets expensive. I'm one of the lucky ones that has the support of my mohter who lives ten minutes away. She watches my daughter almost every weekend for us. But what about those parents that don't have that kind of support? It's hard. But add the stress of having a child with cancer? A date is practically a word out of their vocabulary.

Twenty families joined us. Andie Hamilton Photography was set up to photograph each family (something several of them told me they had never had!). Every mother was presented with a rose. The children were settled into a different room with more than 13 certified nannies (volunteering their time for free for Heroes for Children). Dinner was delicious--herb chicken, risotto, vegetables, chocolate mousse cake. Each family left with a centerpiece, a goodie bag, and at least one raffle prize. Thanks to our volunteers from HFC Friends, our women's auxiliary group, all items were donated.

Larissa and I had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner with a sweet woman and hear more of her story. Her gorgeous daughter, who captured the hearts of all in the room tonight, has Neuroblastoma. In the past year, she has undergone five surgeries, months of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant. She has maintained her smile, shining personality, and sparkling eyes. At only three, this sweet little girl has been through so much. And yet, there she was this evening with her beautiful smile, with her tubes in her nose and her central line hanging from her body.

Every parent there tonight had a story. We had two couples that had recently lost their children to cancer. We had a family who not only went through a child with cancer but a father undergoing a kidney transplant at one time. The child was in the children's hospital and the father in a different hospital in Fort Worth. Oh, and the mom is pregnant with their third child. Seriously? How do they go through all that? I left astounded by the strength of these parents and inspired by the unconditional love they have for their children.

Friday, February 8, 2008

HFC Friends Grant Milestone for a Prima Ballerina

Look at all of these amazing ballet items!!! We asked and HFC Friends delivered! Last week we received a request for 7 year old girl in Houston who wants to become a ballerina. Since she has a very supressed immune system she cannot take ballet lessons with other girls. A Houston ballet company graciously stepped in to offer her private lessons. They will even schedule the lessons around her chemo treatments.

Heroes for Children stepped in to provide the soon to be Prima Ballerina with her very own ballerina wardrobe. Included her ballet package were leotards, tutus, tights, tap and ballet shoes, a dance bag, a photo album to capture the memories, and a little girly make-up so she can be glamorous for each lesson. Plus a few Hello Kitty items just because their her favorite. An HFC Friends Family even donated their dvd camcorder so the ballerina's parents can record the precious moments with thier child. We even were able to provide her two younger sisters with ballet outfits, so they can be just like their big sister!

Thanks so much HFC Friends for granting this request!

Monday, February 4, 2008

February Volunteer of the Month

Love is in the air! Can you believe it is February already? Heroes for Children's big Valentine's project for families is underway. We are hosting an evening for the parents on Sunday, February 17th. With a catered dinner, parents will enjoy an evening away together to relax and enjoy a nice meal. Babysitting services, provided by Mom's Best Friend, will be on-site to provide free childcare for the parents. With all the stresses of having a child battling cancer, we know that a Valentine's dinner may be the last on their list. But we also know that they need this time to keep up with their relationships, enjoy adult interaction, and connect together. Hopefully, it will be a memorable evening for these very deserving parents!

Assisting us with the project is this month's Volunteer of the Month, Christie Cahoon. Christie was recently introduced to our organization this past Fall. We immediately hit it off, connecting with a mutual understanding of what it is like to have a loved one battling this horrible disease. Christie's sister underwent not one, but two different grueling bone marrow transplants to beat her leukemia.

Since getting involved with Heroes for Children, Christie has jumped right in! She was a co-captain for a Holiday Heroes team, helping us shop and wrap for one family. She is one of our awesome volunteers for this new Valentine's Dinner for HFC Families. I'm proud to announce that she has also accepted the position of the 2008-2009 HFC Friends Women's Auxiliary President!!

Christie--thank you so much!!!

Name, Age, Occupation:
Christie Cahoon, 33, wife and mother

How did you get involved with HFC?
I read about the organization after moving to Dallas in 2005. My friend, Lauren Thomason, has been involved with HFC and invited me to attend the HFC Friends Coffee this past fall. I was so impressed by what I learned about HFC at the coffee and knew I needed to get involved!

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
My husband and I have three kids – Claire is 4 years old, John is 3 years old and Anne is 18 months. We also have one dog, a Vizsla named Boo Radley, and a Beta fish named Sammy. Boo is 10 years old, and Sammy has been with us for about 7 months.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..
I practiced corporate securities law prior to having children.

Favorite place to eat:
Oh how I love to eat out!! My very favorite has to be Hibiscus. I also love Taverna and Oishii.

What’s on your book shelf?
I recently finished Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen. Right now I am reading Then We Came To The End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris. Next on my list is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
My iPod is full of music I enjoy while running – a lot of Polyphonic Spree and also Bon Jovi, Wilco, U2, and Gwen Stefani. It is the only time that I am not listening to my children’s music!

Who’s your hero?
My sister, Lindy. She was diagnosed with leukemia in May of 1995 at the age of 17. She had two bone marrow transplants – the first in August of 1995 and the second in April of 1998. She is approaching the 10th anniversary of her second transplant and is now considered cured! The strength that she had throughout her entire illness and her positive attitude will always be an inspiration to me.