Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celebrating More Milestones

This month two of our social programs hit big milestones. We have given 200 laptops to teens battling cancer through our Laptops for Love program and we have now celebrated our 50th Heroes Milestone.

The 200th laptop went to a young man who turned 16 this month. He was diagnosed with ALL in August 2006 and relapsed on April 2009. He is a good student and loves school but will not be able to return to school until at least January 2010. He recently had a bone marrow transplant and will remain in the hospital for several more weeks. His laptop will allow him to stay connected to his studies and hopefully lift his spirits during his road ahead. Laptops for Love was started in 2005 and the inspiration came from co-founder Jenny when she and her husband Andrew purchase a laptop for a teen with cancer they met in the hospital when Allie was sick. Today we deliver laptop to teens that are experiencing long hospital stays or are homebound and unable to attend school. The laptops help these teens stay up with their school work as well help them to stay in touch with family and friends, while in many cases, in isolation.

The 50th Milestone was a birthday celebration for a little girl turning 11, who was diagnosed with AML in December 2008 and had a bone marrow transplant in February 2009. She had an underwater themed party complete with seafood, fish and sea creature decorations and even a Little Mermaid Costume for the birthday girl. Heroes Milestone was started in 2007, by Christi Disch, in memory of her friend Kira. Kira was diagnosed with cancer just before her high school graduation. Unable to attend her own graduation, Christi and friends brought a graduation party to her! In her memory, Christi created Heroes Milestones, to help cancer patients celebrate the milestones in their lives. Heroes Milestones helps families celebrate if they are stuck in the hospital, or even if they just can't afford to because the medical bills are so overwhelming. The celebrations can include birthday parties, Quinceneras, proms, graduations, and even Celebration of Life parties for a dying child. This program will continue Kira's legacy by helping other children find happiness in celebrating their milestone events.

We look forward to delivering many more laptops and milestones!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Olympic Tae Kwon Do Champions Visit Texas Children's Cancer Center

Photo: (from left) Steven, Mark, Jean, and Diana Lopez with patient Sebastian

Texas Children's Cancer Center had a special group of visitors to the outpatient clinic this week on behalf of Heroes for Children. Olympic champions in the sport of Tae Kwon Do, the Lopez family joined by several members of their training team, visited cancer patients on Monday, August 17th. Eldest brother and Olympic coach, Jean Lopez, announced his family's support of Heroes for Children, then led a demonstration of his training athletes in some Tae Kwon Do moves. Afterwards, parents and children enjoyed personal visits with the athletes.

Heroes for Children is so proud to have supporters such as the Lopez family. Jean, Steven, Mark, and Diana are truly HEROES in our eyes. Their dedication and passion for their sport is evident in everything that they do. I am continually impress with their skills. More than that, I am so impressed with their family values. They are a unique family--very close, loving, and supportive of each other. They are proud of their accomplishments yet they are not ones to boost. They have been very kind and willing to help Heroes for Children both through our fundraising efforts and through the interaction with the patients. This summer, Diana personally visited a young woman battling leukemia in the hospital. This young lady is a Tae Kwon Do athlete herself and misses the sport while battling her cancer. She and Diana had a private visit one afternoon. I know this visit meant so much to the patient and I hope it was just as meaningful to Diana.

Special thanks to the entire Tae Kwon Do team who visited the cancer clinic on Monday. You really brought huge smiles to those kids!!

A few pictures from the day:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

James' Journey

A few years ago, I had a special visitor come to my house. James was picking up a laptop from Heroes for Children through the Laptops for Love program. He and his brothers excitedly came to my house (which was closer for them to travel then going to the hospital to pick up the laptop) and get the computer before they were off to Hawaii for his Make-a-Wish trip. They even ran all around my backyard for more than twenty minutes with my golden retriever, Brandy, leaving her happy and exhausted when they left! I really enjoyed meeting James and his family. Little did I know then that one day, James' mother would begin working for Heroes for Children as our Development Assistant. WinterFawn started working with our organization this week and we couldn't be happier to have her. Below are her words about James' Journey to lead her to the Heroes for Children office. Welcome, WinterFawn!

My name is WinterFawn Stone and I am very proud to say that I am the newest member of HFC! And before you ask, NO, my parents were not hippies and YES, I am Native American (those are the two most frequently asked questions when someone hears my name). I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and after my parents divorced when I was 6, I moved to Texas with my father and have been here ever since.

I have 4 beautiful boys: Breece (age 15), James Anthony (would have been 11), Matthew (age 8) and Lucas (age 3). I love kids and would have more if my body could handle it. Quite often you will find that we have a few kids over at our house because I love a house full of kids. And before you ask, YES, I am crazy. I am the way I am because of the influence of my very goofy father.

From left: James, Breece, Lucas, and Matthew

When I’m not at home playing with kids I’m out volunteering. I started volunteering when I was 15; I was a candy striper for the hospital in McKinney. I have also volunteered at the Suicide Crisis Center and The Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. Giving back to my community is important for me and this is something I hope my children will continue doing when they are adults.

In February of 2006 James was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma. For three months I attempted juggling my work while James was in the hospital but finally had to walk away from my position. My husband, Paul, took on more hours at work; sometimes working 12 hours a day 6 days a week, but we still struggled financially. You just don’t think about all of the little expenses when a child has cancer and it’s even more difficult when you’re faced with these expenses with one less income. It wasn’t long before one of the social workers at Medical City told me about HFC. Within days we received a check that allowed us to pay essential bills like the electric and phone bill (so I could call home when at the hospital or call the doctor when we were at home) along with giving me much needed money for food when we were at the hospital as I was pregnant with Lucas at the time.

Baby Lucas with James in the hospital

James went through 2 transplants, his last being in February 2007 (just one year after diagnosis). In May, James Anthony tested positive for CMV (a very common virus that most of the population gets at one point in their life but is very easily fought off; unless you have a weak or no immune system like James had after his transplant). Despite all the treatments they gave, James went septic on Mother’s Day 2007 and earned his angel wings.

The family on Make-a-Wish trip

Shortly after James Anthony passed, I began working for The Samaritan Inn. This was the first time I had ever worked for a nonprofit agency and I absolutely loved the work environment. So, when I found out HFC had a position available, I jumped at the opportunity. Now I have the pleasure to work for the agency that helped us greatly during the most difficult time in our lives and I’m able to help other families whose child is currently battling cancer. To say I am super excited to be working at HFC is a tremendous understatement. I look forward to many, many, MANY years with this organization.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August Volunteer of the Month

On most Wednesday afternoons, Chris Wolfe comes to the Heroes for Children office to volunteer, meet with staff members, and sometimes join us for lunch. It always brightens my day to see Chris and visit with him. His passion for our organization and our upcoming Golf Classic (he's the 2009 chair of the event!) energizes me. Chris joined our Advisory Board this year and agreed to chair our longest running event, the Golf Classic in memory of Taylor Anne Brewton. He is one of those guys who you quickly warm up to and genuinely like (really when you see below, you'll understand why--any man who says "the sun rises and sets" with his wife and kids? You know that's a good man!).

I'm honored that Chris took the initiave of reaching out to me and Larissa after learning about Heroes for Children and became so involved this year. Chris is one of my top volunteers, a good friend, and a favorite lunch buddy!!

Oh, and Chris--I took one step in that big old truck of yours and totally knew you were a country boy at heart!! :)

Name, Occupation:
Chris Wolfe, Executive Vice President of Sales for Forsythe Solutions. Forsythe Solutions is a Technology Consulting Company.

How did you get involved with HFC?

I had been looking for about 2 years for an organization to invest in personally and associate my company with. I had looked at just about every mainstream organization possible, but nothing really touched my heart or really presented a true opportunity to visibly make an impact. I was having lunch one day with my friend, Todd Jackson, who is on the HFC Board, and he told me about his involvement with the organization. After hearing Todd’s story I was immediately compelled to set up some time with Jenny and Larissa to learn more about HFC. After 10 minutes with Jenny and Larissa (HFC Co-Founders), I knew I found something very special and I could not wait to jump in with both feet. I feel so fortunate to be involved.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

My Amazing wife Heather and I have 3 beautiful children, Cameron(9), Andrew(6) and Caroline(3). We also have a Yellow Lab named Bailey and a miniature Beagle named Lilly. For me, the sun rises and sets with Heather and our children. We are very Blessed!

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

I would have to say by looking at me, no one would guess that I am a country boy at heart. I don’t much dress the part anymore, but I’ll take my Truck, some George Strait a worn out pair of wranglers and some wide open country any day of the week.

Favorite place to eat:
Wow! That is a tough one. Living in Dallas we are surrounded by great restaurants. I would have to say my favorite spot to eat right now is Mattitos Tex-Mex in downtown Frisco. I think our family eats there on a weekly basis. I love their Chicken Fajitas.

What’s on your book shelf?
I am ashamed to say I am not an avid reader, I am more of a doer. However I do have a few books on the shelf. “Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way”, By Ron Karr, “The Bourne Deception by Eric VanLustbader and “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?
I love music of any genre. I have some classic Van Halen, The Black-eyed Peas, Ludacris, Daughtry, George Strait, Garth Brooks and, don’t tell anyone, but I even have a song from Miley Cirus.

Who’s your hero?
I have been blessed to know some great people in my life but hands down my hero is my father, Ron Wolfe. My Dad has been my very best friend since I was a kid. Throughout my life he has always been there to give me support, guidance and good advice no matter the situation. What I admire most about my father is his incredible work ethic, his devotion to his family and his ability turn every setback into a success. I truly believe my Dad is the most incredible man on the planet.