Monday, September 27, 2010

Day +544: Paying It Forward

It's day +544 for Max and things continue to go well for him and for all of us! We had a bit of a test last week as all three of the kids came down with strep throat and Max's affected his skin as well. But, I'm happy to report that, thanks to antibiotics and working immune systems, they have all been feeling pretty good since about Saturday and are back on track with school, etc. again! It was a long week for Mom as I had at least two kids home all day, everyday again but, it brought back some fun memories of many weeks like that in the past 20+ months and we made it through!

Beyond that, we had a couple of very exciting events last week that I wanted to share with everyone. On Tuesday afternoon, I had tickets for the boys and I to go to Ollie's to see Tony Hawk skateboard. We had learned that he was going to be there a few weeks back so, I made sure to get some tickets. Last Monday, my mom called down to Ollie's and spoke with the manager about Max's story and he said that he was going to do what he could to be sure that Max and Alex got to meet Tony! So, we went down to Ollie's early (per his request) and were treated extra special. We got VIP wristbands from the Ollie's folks and got to have about 10 minutes of private time with Mr. Hawk!!! To say that the boys were excited is definitely an understatement. As Max said upon meeting him, "I got to have two of my wishes come true!" He signed their helmets and their skating shoes and talked with them about what they liked to do, etc. It was definitely something to remember!

I haven't updated about Max's Meals in a while but, we have continued serving meals to the inpatient families on A5 and are pursuing our official non-profit designation with the IRS currently. Our last meal was a "Just Because" meal in mid-August and we are planning a Halloween luncheon, a holiday tea (with cookies and desserts, etc) and Christmas Eve brunch now. On Thursday evening last week, we took a very special and exciting step forward with Max's Meals and had our first official Board of Trustees meeting. We have assembled a great group of people that are near and dear to our hearts to help us guide Max's Meals forward and our first meeting was fabulous. We brought everyone up to speed on our passion behind the organization and what we have been doing to date. Then we talked a lot about our mission and our initial goals. We have lots and lots of wonderful and caring ideas to pursue and are so excited about the possibilities to help the patients and families of the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We are pulling a website together and some marketing materials and hope to have more communications out about the venture soon. We could not be more thrilled to be moving forward with this non-profit and focusing on paying it forward.

Speaking of Max's Meals...I wanted to let you all know that there are two fundraisers that people have pulled together all on their own coming up soon. We have been so touched by the generosity of these folks and their willingness to do so much to support Max's Meals. We would love for anyone that is interested to attend these events. The first event is a golf outing that some of Matt's dad, Jake's friends have pulled together for Saturday, October 23rd at Reeves Golf Course at Lunken. It is $75 to play golf and have lunch at the event but, you can also just come for the luncheon/grillout if you would like. If you are interested in attending, please email me and I'll get you a copy of the registration form.

The second event is a vendor fair that my sweet neighbor is going to have to benefit Max's Meals on Saturday, November 6th from noon - 4pm. She has seven different vendors lined up to showcase their products and will be collecting a small admission to donate to Max's Meals. She is planning to have a flyer with more details for this event soon so, I will be sure to make it available to all of you.

These two events and our meeting last week with the Board have gotten us very excited about the potential for Max's Meals. We are beyond grateful for the miracle we have witnessed with Max's healing and feel so blessed to be in a position now to be able to give back and help others to cope through such difficult times. Thank you, again to all of you that have supported Max's Meals to is because of you that such positive and wonderful things are happening.

Max's Mighty Mob is continuing to grow as well. We held a spot in the list of top ten fundraising teams for a short time and would love to end up on that list but, are thrilled with the progress that has been made already. We have 32 people registered to walk now and have raised over $2,200!!! We set our goals high at 100 walkers and $11,000 purposefully in hopes of repeating last year and we aren't giving up on that yet!!! Please consider joining us on Saturday, October 16th for the walk or sponsoring one of our walkers. You can sign up to join us or make an online donation at our team's site: Thanks for your support of Max's Mighty Mob too!

In my last update, I told you of my struggles to "re-integrate" and I so appreciate all the love and support that I received from so many of you regarding that struggle. I am doing well overall, despite my ups and downs and find myself drawn to focusing on paying it forward. To that end, I had a bit of a rough spot last week as I had a conversation with my HR Manager at GE and finally let go of the position that I had when I left there almost two years ago! Yes, they still had my position waiting for me, even after all this time. GE is a fantastic company to work for and I would love to return to the position that I formerly had, before Max got sick. It was a dream job for me...working part-time on the eco marketing campaign for the Aviation business. But, the reality of my life is that I am still not in a position where I can commit a large portion of my time to something outside of this house. With Matt busy with his job and traveling a lot, I need to be available to run up to school at a moments notice to get Max and do whatever we might need to do each day to keep him well - and that could still mean spending a day or even a few days and nights down at the hospital. I just can't be 40 minutes from home working at GE right now, even a day or two a week. Thankfully, I am still on a leave of absence with the company and hope that in the fairly near future I will be able to return to something like I had before. In the meantime, I'll spend my time enjoying my three little ones and helping families like ours through their journeys at Children's.

Despite this little glich, LIFE IS GOOD! LOTS of GREAT stuff going on...and I didn't even mention our participation in the golf outing for Make A Wish this weekend or all the involvement I've had now down at the hospital as a parent advisor, etc! Not to mention that Max, Alex and Ellee all continue to do fabulously at school and even have been attending Sunday School the last few weeks! Max is even going to take first communion classes this fall and make his first communion at the end of October!!!! WOW!!! Dreams do come true!

As I said earlier, we are beyond grateful for the miracle of Max's healing and for his continued positive progress. We pray for and remember daily our dear friends that have been lost along this journey - Andrew, Ethan, Matthew, Natalie and Troy - and those that continue to fight for their miracles - Brayton, Preston and Tony. Along with our Max, it is these children and their families that have inspired us to launch Max's Meals and who remind us to treasure every moment.

More soon...

Peace and love,
Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)

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