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.