So, the We heart Harlie event details...
Where to begin?
First - I want to say how awesome Lynda Reider is for offering to put on a fundraiser for us and get it organized in less than ONE month! She did a fabulous job and I think she might have found her calling. I can't imagine how much time she put into this thing! I also want to thank the Daisy troop 5091 moms and daisies. They welcomed us with open arms and jumped right in to help Lynda pull this whole thing off. I have heard so much wonderful feedback from people who were at the event and they said they had such a great time. All thanks to those wonderful moms!
My niece Jordan and her friends, Kayla, Tyler, and Rocky were busy at work moving tables, putting things where they needed to go and offering to do more. Thanks guys!! Maggie, another niece turned 20 that day and came back into town early that morning just to help with this event. Thanks Maggie!
The event started at 8:30am. Set-up started at 7:30. I wanted to be there a little early. But, of course we were a little late. I promise I try!!! But luckily everyone else was on time and set-up was already well underway. As soon as I walked into the room and saw how many people were working to help, I wanted to cry. Seriously? How can we be so lucky as to have so many people who care about us?
I don't have pictures yet, but Sew Susan donated her time and expertise to make t-shirts for the daisy moms and a few others for the event. That was a last minute add-on and somehow Lynda pulled it off! Seriously, the girl gets things done! We went with red shirts and white lettering that said "We heart Harlie." And Susan thought that Harlie should have her own shirt. So, she wore a white shirt, with red lettering that said "they heart ME". How clever is that? That was Susan's idea - and it was SO cute!!! So, walking in to see a room full of red shirts that say We heart Harlie made me a little emotional.
We've had so many people since the event say they want a shirt of their own that we are going to make them available for order. Again, thanks Sew Susan!!! I'll have all the details soon.
One of the first people that arrived was a familiar face - but I just couldn't place where I knew her from. So, I asked her how I knew her and she said Saxon shoes. I was blown away. First, YES! That is exactly where I knew her from. I have bought many a kids' shoes from there and she is usually the one that double-checks that the fit is a good one. And she has helped me with Harlie's shoes, too. Second, how incredibly thoughtful is it that she (and two other Saxon employees) came to the event?! Seriously! The whole day was like that. It was crazy!
A Sweet Frog store opened up just a few days before the event and Lynda got them involved, too. They sent t-shirts, stuffed animals and mascots! They were huge! It was great! Well, except for Harlie who was TERRIFIED and wouldn't let me (or whoever I could pass her off to for a moment's break) put her down.
The raffles were in the cafeteria, scattered about on round tables with flower pots in the center. And there was Zumba and Tae Kwon Do in the gym. It was awesome to see that the Zumba class was filled with all ages - older adults to little kids. And they were all having a great time! I've heard from numerous people that Sylvia, the Zumba teacher was awesome. Thank you, Sylvia!!!
After Zumba was over, Master Cho's came in to do a Tae Kwon Do instruction. The kids looked like they were having a blast in there! Thank you Master Cho's!
While those activities were happening in the gym, there were relay races and Adrenaline (and free play time on the playground) going on outside. It was a beautiful day and everyone looked like they were having fun out there, too.
Then it was time for the raffles. Everyone moved to the gym and stood around or sat on the floor. Lynda and some other daisy moms were on stage. I was a nervous wreck because I knew that when it was over I would have to go up on stage in front of all those people and speak.
It was emotionally exhausting! While I wouldn't necessarily consider myself "shy" I am definitely not a mingler, either. I was out of my comfort zone for sure. I went up to people I didn't know and introduced myself. And I stood up in front of a crowd of many I know and love (I think it's easier to speak in front of strangers) and tried to let them know how incredibly thankful I am. That was not an easy task! I get emotional just thinking about it.
The only way I can think to describe it is that it is so emotionally complicated to have a fundraiser organized for your family. I'm so thankful for the love and support of our friends, family, and strangers. And I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have that kind of support.
But then I wish more than anything that it wasn't necessary at all. I wish Harlie could be a healthy, talking, giggling, nose breathing little girl who could swim and hear and enjoy her life like her brothers and her friends. But, I try not to think about it that way. We are LUCKY to have her. And we are HAPPY to have her. Every single day.
So, see what I mean? I'd give anything to be the giver versus the receiver in the fundraising area. I was talking to some wonderful moms a few weeks ago about the fundraiser and they were so excited about it's success. One of the moms was there and said she had a great time. Anyway, I was explaining that she's our responsibility and we are willing to go into massive debt to get her the care she needs. And she said, "What does every woman expecting a baby pray for? A healthy baby. You drew the card that none of us want. We want to help you." I love that she could speak honestly like that. And something about that just made me feel better.
I am still working on my thank you notes from the event. But in the meantime, please know how much we appreciate your support and giving spirit. And I mean everyone who donated money, all the businesses that donated items, all the people who helped get the word out and get some of those businesses involved, and everyone who chose to spend their precious time with us, supporting us. We are so thankful!
Oh, and one of the points I wanted to make in my thank you at the event (repeated *sort of* for those that had to leave early and couldn't hear it) is that it can be very lonely being the mom of a child with complex medical needs. There are everyday "things" in my life that have had to become my normal that most mothers have never even heard of - nor had to accept, learn, deal with, etc. So it's easy to feel lonely. But not on this day. Nope. On this day we were surrounded by so many people who care - even though they might not understand, they care. And I'm going to remember that feeling in August, when we're sitting in the OR waiting room for 10+ hours. I'm thinking we might start to feel lonely. So, I'll look at the video below and I'll remember that I'm really surrounded by some awesome people who love us. So, thank you for that!
Okay, here is the slideshow of the photos that Paige Stevens Photography took (plus some other ones sent in from friends). Thank you Paige for recording such a heartfelt occasion for us and for being a part of the raffles, too!