Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fundraiser for Harlie

One of Tom’s clients (for those of you that don’t know, Tom is a kitchen designer at Classic Kitchens of Virginia) has taken it upon herself to go above and beyond for our sweet Harlie! She has organized a wonderful fund raiser for The Harlie Fund. She is Maria Candler and she is the President of James River Grounds Management, Inc. Below is a copy of the letter that she sent to all of the clients and vendors of James River Grounds Management.

Needless to say, Tom and I are overwhelmed by their compassion and generosity. Seriously, there are just no words for how much we appreciate this. If you want to run or walk in Harlie’s honor, just let me know. (Tom already started training.) I believe Maria is getting t-shirts made for the event. So, if you walk or run it, and you want a t-shirt, let me know and I’ll get the order to her. Here is the link to register just in case you are interested:

Okay, here’s the letter…

January 29, 2008

Dear Valued Partner,

Whether we are ready or not, 2008 is here, and James River Grounds Management has an important New Years resolution that involves your support! On April 5th over 25 of our staff members will be running (or walking) in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K. In alignment with our resolution of giving more of ourselves to our community, we will be running in honor of a very special little girl.

We would like to tell you about Harlie Caroline Holton. Harlie was born on September 25, 2006. Her parents knew she was going to have challenges, but no one was prepared for the road that lay ahead. Harlie was born with an exhausting list of birth defects. The most emergent being a complicated heart defect called Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries. In basic terms, her heart is backwards. She had her first open heart surgery at just four days old, her second at six months, with a third to be at three years old. In addition, Harlie was born with an underdeveloped lower jaw and missing bones, forward low set ears, a dysmorphic left ear with no canal, left eye defects, vertebral anomalies, missing ribs, misshapen skull, anoperineal fistula and a lung defect that required the removal of most of her right lung. This is just what has been uncovered so far. Harlie has undergone seven surgeries and spent over four months in hospitals. This spring, she will face her eighth and ninth surgeries, as doctors work to stop her chronic vomiting so that her jaw can be reconstructed. The correct jaw construction will allow her to breathe and swallow normally thus eventually eliminating the need for a tracheostomy tube and feeding tube in the future. In spite of everything, she is sweet, happy, smart and beautiful!

What is most moving about Harlie’s situation is that her parents (who don’t ask for anything) have the most amazing attitudes toward these challenges. Their outlook has been absolutely inspirational to all of us here at James River. When reading the above list of challenges they have faced, it would be easy to understand how a parent in this situation could feel a little angry or cheated. But not the Holton’s. Not only is Harlie a blessing to them, but they truly feel honored to have been given the opportunity to raise her. The following is an excerpt from Christy Holton’s blog dated 1/20/08:

“…one thing I’ve started to notice more and more – is that the ones that have been honored to raise these special children feel so lucky, so blessed. How can that be? We deserve to feel cheated and bitter and angry! Well, okay, we do feel those feelings. But, more than that, we feel blessed and grateful. I find that so amazing. Those that have never spent one night in the hospital with a child recovering from life-saving surgery should feel like that. Those that have never had to learn about a rare medical condition, surgery, birth defect, how to be a nurse for their child, etc. should feel like the luckiest people on earth… I am incredibly thankful. Every single day Harlie completely amazes me. Now isn’t that something?”

We think it is. Caring for Harlie is more than a full time job. The equipment and medication necessary to keep her nourished and safe are unbelievably expensive. The surgeries that she has undergone and those that she will continue to face throughout her life will require her parents and older brother Murphy to sacrifice greatly. Furthermore, the family will eventually be required to travel out of state in order to receive the medical care that Harlie will require. In Christy Holton’s own words… ”I fully expected to lose my daughter, but then she was born and she had so many more problems than we ever imagined, yet she was so strong and surprised everyone with her will. I am truly honored to be her Mother. She is worth every ounce of effort we have to give to keep her safe and sound. She has changed our lives forever.”

As a tribute to Harlie and her family’s amazing spirit, we at James River Grounds Management are privileged to run (walk) for her benefit. What we ask of you is to make a donation to the Harlie Fund, a legal trust set up for her ongoing care. For every dollar raised, James River will match the donation.

Please make your check payable to The Harlie Fund.

Mail to: The Harlie Fund c/o James River Grounds Management, Inc.
11008 Washington Highway
Glen Allen, VA 23059

Please try to send your donations by April 3rd. We would like to honor the family with all the donations and a list of donors after the race on April 5th. For more information on Harlie, please check out her website For more information about the donations or the race please contact Cerise Estep, 804-550-3500. On behalf of the staff at James River, thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting this amazing little girl.

Maria P. Candler

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