MY STORY - Why & More...

Why Kilimanjaro? Why Make-A-Wish? Why am I doing this?

The short answer:

1. I was inspired by the story of a little girl who died way to young.

2. I am incredibly thankful that my husband survived his fight against leukemia more than 20 years ago.

3. I don't have a clue what it's like to have a sick child but as a mom, my heart aches for those who do.

4. I long to make a difference in the world, big or small.

5. I know I'm going to be so proud of myself when it's all said and done.

The longer answer:

If you've been following a.o.k. for a while, then you know that I was profoundly affected by the story of Layla Grace Marsh this past winter. Layla - a beautiful, bubbly 2 year old - lost her fight against neuroblastoma on March 9, 2010 (or as her Mother so bitter-sweetly put it on twitter: Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla).

Having been so touched by her story, I didn't want it to end there. I didn't want the experience to be like reading a sad book, crying, closing it, and moving on. I wanted to do something. Something to honor her memory.

It may seem odd to some people that it was (is) so important for me to honor the memory of a little girl I’ve never met. What can I say? Her name was Layla and she was just a few months younger than my first daughter, Layla. She fought a nasty cancer and my husband had childhood leukemia when he was just 3. Talking about her story, I learned more about what my husbands family went through so many years ago. I have no idea what it is to have a sick child. I can only imagine and pray that my children remain healthy... But my heart aches for those who do.

So for reasons I can and can't explain, I knew I had to do something.

I started by "writing a cheque" and donating to the local Children's Hospital in her memory. I looked into volunteering opportunities. I read about different organizations... I asked for more information… And then one morning while I was reading the newspaper, an ad promoting an upcoming information session for the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s "2011 Kilimanjaro Expedition" caught my eye.

I think my heart may have literally skipped a beat as I wondered to myself "Is this it? Could I do something like this?". I looked for more information. I read more about the foundation. Before I knew it, I was talking to the event organizer and hanging up the phone with the biggest smile on my face, thinking…

"I'm so going to do this. I'll do it in memory of Layla Grace. I'll do it in honor of what Brandon and his family went through when he was so sick years ago… AND I'll live the experience of a lifetime... both in the challenge of raising the funds and in finding the physical strength and endurance to climb the mountain"

Still - I struggled with deciding to go for it. It was fun to talk about, but could I actually do this?

The trip alone is a big deal. It will be the longest I will have been away from my girls since I've been a mom. It's a little daunting... alright very daunting if I think about it too much. But it's not what was stopping me.

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro will be the biggest physical challenge I've ever undertaken (aside from my pregnancies and labour experiences perhaps, but you know what I mean...). I wasn’t worried about that either.

I was worried about the money. Aha. Of course. The money. Raising $8000 for the foundation is going to be a huge personal undertaking. Covering my personal expenses - which are expected to add up to somewhere near $8000 - is also a really big deal (people who have lots of money can easily say that money comes and goes... not to let it stop you. But while we may be comfortable, $8000 is a lot of money to us. And $16,000 is a whole heck of a lot of money!).

Despite my concerns regarding the trip expenses and fundraising – I finally made a decision. I decided that I’m going to do this. I know I'm going to need help.

Over the next 9 months I will work (very very hard) to raise $16,000 ($8000 to cover my personal expenses and $8000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation).

Here goes nothing!


Flo-Hart said...

I am proud to call you my NEICE.

A. said...

Thanks. A comment like that means more than you know.

I actually beginning to think I'm going to end up being more "touched" than anyone by this whole experience... :-)

Thinking of you lots these days...

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