Because the initial response has been wonderful, I decided to continue on from the end of September to now through the holiday season. 16% of proceeds will benefit University of Iowa Dance Marathon.
On June 26, my first baby girl, Alex, celebrated her Sweet 16th Birthday. Starting over a month ago I had asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate her 16th birthday and repeatedly she let me know she wanted nothing special. She is a teenager and I wasn't sure if I was missing something or not reading in between the lines and as it turned out she simply did not want anything special. She did request fried rice for supper and red velvet cake for dessert (which was great and enjoyed by all) and she is still deciding on what she wants for a present. Her siblings enjoyed giving her some art accessories for something to open on her special day.
A few weeks ago, I had asked her about setting something up through Simply Rustic for her 16th birthday such as donating money to an organization or cause she cares about. She asked if we could do something with University of Iowa Dance Marathon. I thought that would be great and we decided to donate 16% of proceeds from the website and Etsy shop. I was only going to run it for a few weeks and figured that may not be worth it so I told her we could run it through the end of September since September is Leukemia Awareness Month. This made her happy and she is just like that...mostly a typical teenager, complete with attitude and all, but a very caring person that is wise beyond her years. I could go on and on about what I love about her and why I love her so much but there isn't enough time and space. :-)
Now you are probably wondering what this is all about? Alex was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in November 2008. That diagnosis is a BIG reason why Simply Rustic was even thought of. If it weren't for that diagnosis, I eventually would have learned what I know now but would not have put the time and effort into all the research I have done the last few years on all the chemicals, toxins, hormone disruptors, etc. that are found in our cosmetics, skin care and personal care products among many other nasty ingredients and chemicals in other products we come in contact with daily and several times a day. And of course food, but again, not enough time. I still don't have the reason why she has this type of leukemia and I know I will never know the reason why, it still does not stop me from trying to prevent more problems for Alex or the other three kids, myself and my husband...and anyone else willing to think outside the box.
Why University of Iowa Dance Marathon? I know this will not mean a lot to most of you but, Dance Marathon will always be special to Alex and her family, and to the 500+ pediatric cancer patients and families they support annually. This program is a student organization, run year round, and provides emotional and financial support to youth cancer patients and their families. When I contacted Megan Hoffman, this year's Executive Sponsorship Director, after Alex suggested this I wanted to verify exactly where the money goes...did I mention Dance Marathon has raised over $11.2 million the last 18 years? Megan let me know, "UI Dance Marathon provides funds for the 'new-do' program-providing wigs for girls; we provide a $1,000 co-pay card for each family to cut down on pharmacy costs; sperm preservation for teenage boys; DM diner dollars-gift certificates for parents to get out of the hospital and eat for free; parking passes; crafts and activities for those who are inpatient; and $5,000 for funeral costs for those children who fought hard on their battle but did not make it." There are many other projects they support too and a major one is the $5 million dollar commitment over the next 10 years for the new University of Iowa Children's Hospital.
Their biggest fundraiser is a 24-hour Dance Marathon, that is absolutely amazing to attend. It gives me goosebumps and tears just thinking about it. I find it amazing that a few thousand University of Iowa students take the time to raise money to help fight pediatiric cancer. Not only that, and just as important (if not more), they take the time out of their busy lives to brighten a child's life that is battling cancer. Below is a video with more information and some highlights from the big event this past year.
Dance Marathon also sponsors fun events throughout the year and sends a $100 gift cards to the child battling cancer right before Christmas.
We benefited from Dance Marathon Alex's first two years after diagnosis and believe me when I say it was a blessing. A child should not have to fight cancer (no one should) and a family should not have to hear that a loved one has cancer, life changing - definitely and the financial and emotional burden it can cause is heartbreaking among many other things. Luckily there are programs like Dance Marathon that can help with that burden and alleviate part of the emotional rollercoaster with their support.
Alex now goes to the American Family Children's Hospital at the University of Wisconsin every three months to get her blood work done and she takes her daily pill to keep her leukemia away. If you would look at her, you would never guess she has cancer and we are extremely thankful that her type of leukemia is easily treated...as a Mom sometimes that doesn't make it any easier. :-)
Now through the end of September, 16% of proceeds will go to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon program to celebrate Alex's Sweet 16th Birthday and the wonderful support Dance Marathon provides. Simply Rustic also has a shop through Facebook (look for SHOP a long the top) that will have sales and specials the next few months so make sure you "like" us on Facebook to receive these specials.
Thank You very much!
Do you have a cause or program you care deeply about or a story to share?