Friday, January 18, 2008

Send Your Valentine Some Love!

Please contact Jenny Scott at for an order form. These cards are adorable! Loved ones are mailed the Valentine's card above. Share your love for HFC with your loved ones!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quick, Painless and so stinking cute!!!

For years, I have been taking my kiddos to Photography by Cupcake, and have some GREAT pictures of them. Karen Stevenson is "Cupkake" and she is oh so creative, and a joy to be around! I have some priceless pictures of Taylor she took before she got sick. She does a great day every few months called "Quick and Painless." You can drop by her home studio, anytime this Saturday, January 19th from 9-5, no appointment necessary, and get pictures for your kiddo's for as little as $20!!!! And these are STUDIO portraits!! Even better, this Quick and Painless, a proceed of all orders go to HEROES FOR CHILDREN
I will be there, with sweet Lilly in tow!! I can't wait to get her three month pictures taken! She is smiling all the time and sticking her tongue out! Sooo cute!!

The backdrop for the pictues will be white, and if you want there are some Valentines props as well! Her studio is located at 3305 Chaha Road in Rowlett. Easy to get to off of George Bush! For more details on this event and to see her work, visit her website at

Karen has also generously donated her time to take numerous pictures of children with cancer that Heroes for Children has provided financial assistance to. We use these photos in marketing materials and events for HFC, and provide a picture of the child to the families.

Hope to see you there!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Model Inspiration

I'm in Houston for meetings right now. Traveling and fundraising in another city can be quite the challenge at times. It's time away from my family, exhausting travel, and jammed packed days with meetings. On Sunday night, I looked at my suitcase preparing for my trip with a lot of guilt (leaving my family) and anticipation, and anxiety. I just knew I would be exhausted when I returned on Wednesday. Yes, I'm exhausted. However, I'm leaving tomorrow morning with so much excitement and inspiration from my two days here in Houston and the love I have for this great city.

I spent the morning with some amazing people at an amazing place. In preparation for our inpending Heroes and Handbags event in Houston, our chair Mary Lou Fernandez set up a photo shoot. The models? Patients of Texas Children's Cancer Center. The photographer? Very cool guy. The props? Oh so beautiful handbags! The end result? Pure magic. Cannot wait to share with you (of course, after I see them myself!).

The goal of these photos are to use them for our event, invitations for the event, website, and even for large press coverage in PaperCity. Elaine Turner Handbags has so very graciously joined us in our efforts (can I tell you how much I love her bags? Love. them.). Armed with more than 20 or 25 handbags to choose from, we began our work at Texas Children's to photograph some amazing children. Let me tell you about our models today....

Our first was Evan. He's two and a half with Rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder. He has completed more than seven months of chemotherapy with another three left on the horizon. Then starts his surgery process. He's bald. He loves monster trucks. And he isn't afraid to stick his head in a large green tote bag to see if he is missing anything. He's gorgeous. Oh, and his smile? Melted my heart every time.

Next came Vincent. Born with cancer, Vincent turned three months old today. I didn't find out exactly what the form of cancer he had. However, it was not hard to miss that he had major surgery recently, removing his left ear and leaving a portion of the side of his face concave. And he can only smile on the right side of his mouth as he has lost feeling on the right. Vincent is undergoing chemo at this time and will eventually have plastic surgery to reconstruct an ear for him when he is better. His photos included him INSIDE a blue and white handbag as well as nestled in his mother's arms with a handbag slung across her shoulder. So sweet and beautiful.

A social worker poked her head in and asked if we would be interested in any teens for the photo session. Fully ready to photograph a young lady, we waited for our next model. And in HE walked. Humberto, an eighteen year old cancer SURVIVOR ready to finish his senior year of high school, was in the clinic for a check up (after over a year and a half of Lymphoma treatment). And he wasn't afraid to have his picture taken with some handbags. We loaded him up with four or five on each arm and let him hold them up muscle man style. It was so fun! What a good sport he was.

While waiting to see who else would be coming in to the clinic and feeling well enough to be photographed (sadly, one of our scheduled models received some bad news and left before the shoot), we decided to pull in some of our social workers. All of them had come to visit once they found out we were camped up at the clinic for the photo session. In between camera flashes, we had visited about recent patients HFC has helped and the services we provide. My heart swelled with pride every time they so sweetly thanked me and all of Heroes for Children for our work for their families. Four beautiful women that I adore, admire, and deeply respect very reluctantly agreed to have their pictures taken with the handbags. Brett, our photographer, got them all grouped together with coordinating handbags and a little sassy attitude. I stood there watching them giggle as they were being photographed with a huge grin on my face. I love the social workers we work with. They are truly some of my greatest heroes.

Heroes are all around the hospitals we work with. Today, I got to meet another hero for oncology patients. Dr. Dryer has been with the Cancer Center at Texas Childrens since her days as an intern. She is well respected, energectic, and kind. And boy does she ever look great with a lab coat, stethoscope, and fabulous handbags! Dr. Dryer was so sweet to let us photograph her today! With all she has to do with her position at the hospital, she took the time to meet with me and learn about Heroes for Children (the social workers were bragging about HFC right before we met) and even act as a model. And my biggest connection with her? She is apart of the leukemia research team studying infant leukemia. Yeah, we bonded. Definitely a big hero.

Now it was time to photograph a girl! Denise was up next. At six years old, Denise took great pride in being a big sister. She told us all about her younger sister and her role as the big sis. She was the perfect little model with a gentle expression and sweet smile. I could have just eaten her up.

Then it was time to wait. Layla was coming, but she was on her way. Just a little late. Let me tell you, Layla was worth the wait. Just shy of two, she is a precious child. With nothing but whisps of hair left, Layla was one of the most beautiful children. At first, she was scared with our set up. There were many people in the room and she thought she was going to be examined or poked. She cried. But Brett worked his magic and Layla's mom stuck by her side. The two photographed together. Soon, we started seeing smiles behind the pacifier. She was a perfect model!

We ended the day with a visit to see Nathaniel in his hospital room, the young man that Christi worked with in December for our Heroes Milestones event. Nathaniel is not doing well, but his strength is keeping him here with his family. His mother was sweet and thanked us again for Nathaniel's party. He was fairly out of it, opening his eyes only on occassion, or giving quick responses. When we asked him if he liked the fireworks, he weakly gave us a big thumbs up.

And with that, Mary Lou, Christi, and I bid Nathaniel and his mom goodbye. The three of us cried to the elevator and hugged.

What an inspiring day. What amazing heroes.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

January Volunteer of the Month

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a happy holiday season filled with lots of joy, love, and health. We're looking forward to a new great year for Heroes for Children.

This time of year in our office means one thing--preparation for Heroes and Handbags! With two major events happening in two different cities in a matter of one week, we keep very busy. But these events don't happen just here in the office. It takes a team of volunteers to pull off the many aspects of the event--underwriting, decorations, printing, check-in/check-out, live auction, and so much more! Our core group of volunteers in each city meet on a regular basis for close to nine months in preparation for the event. And at the head of these core groups of volunteers are our event chairs. This year, Mary Lou Fernandez is spearheading the volunteer efforts of Heroes and Handbags in Houston. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26th at River Oaks Country Club. From coordinating photo shoots with cancer patients carrying handbags to juggling schedules to best find dates for events such as our Underwriting Party with Live Auction, Mary Lou is working on it all!

With Larissa's pregnancy this past year, it was agreed that I would handle the major responsibility of traveling to and from Houston until she returned to work (yeah, she's back!! WOOHOO!!). Throughout the fall, I traveled to Houston to work with Mary Lou. We now have each other on speed dial on our phones, and we email on a consistent basis. Now, I don't want to give up the responsibility of traveling to Houston because of the work relationship I have forged with Mary Lou! She is a true joy to work with. She has the passion and heart for our organization and the reason behind the need for Heroes and Handbags. Her business savvy is fantastic too, with experience for working for such companies as Disney when she lived in California! I love when she tells me some great Southern California stories!

Thank you, Mary Lou, for your hardwork for Heroes and Handbags and spreading the mission of Heroes for Children in Houston!

Mary Lou at the wrap party for the 2007 Heroes and Handbags event at Valobra in Houston.

Name: Mary Lou Fernandez

How did you get involved with HFC?
I met Elizabeth King (last year’s Houston chair) when I moved to Houston about a year and a half ago and she got me involved with Heroes and Handbags Houston.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?
My husband and I have one son, Alex who is 4 years old. No pets at the moment, I sadly lost my wonderful 15 year old English Springer Spaniel “Gretchen” this past October. She was the first dog I ever had! We love dogs, so hopefully we will get another dog before the end of the year.

From looking at you, no one would guess that:
Hmmm, tough question! Who knows what people think…it could be scary! Seriously, I guess I would have to say that my hobby (prior to moving to Texas a little over 3 years ago) was sailing and sailboat racing while living in Los Angeles. I was pretty competitive and used to race every Thursday evening and every Saturday/Sunday. I guess I had the need for speed! I thoroughly enjoy being out on the Pacific ocean and the feeling of peace that you experience from being a part of something so beautiful, serene and vast. One year, I also had the opportunity to cover the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht race kick off for ESPN, which was a lot of fun. I was also just starting to take surf lessons when we moved to Austin…but believe me, sailing has much less of a risk of being attacked by those “lovely” great whites that frequent the So Cal coastline…so not that much of a loss for me there!

Favorite place to eat:
My…so many great restaurants in Houston! I would have to say two places. Lupe Tortilla when I am with my husband and son, and when it is just myself and my husband, Antica Osteria, a fabulous little Italian fine dining restaurant in West University.

What’s on your book shelf?
Well usually I read the current spy/ thriller best sellers, but currently I am reading a book describing “4 year olds” which has the subtitle of “Wonderful and Wild”. Now of course I am reading this “self-help” book because my child leans more toward the “wild” part of the title! My father -in- law just recently gave me a book called “The Truth About Hillary” (yes, you know which Hillary) that I am going to start reading. I don’t think it is meant to be a flattering book….we’ll see!

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
Everything! Too many artists to name! Top 40 for working out, classical music for unwinding and a bit of country…I have to work hard at establishing some southern roots while living in Texas!

Who’s your hero?
Definitely Jenny and Larissa. Their strength amazes me! One cannot imagine what losing a child feels like and I am amazed that in spite of everything that they have been through, how much they have done with Heroes for Children and continue to accomplish in their daughters names. Also, the children and parents that I have met while volunteering for Heroes for Children. Their stories and battles truly have redefined how I look at life and how fortunate I feel.