Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Year Of HOPE...

A few years ago, my friends Jenny and Vernet were over at my house for a foundation meeting about our first Hope Gala.

Vernet is the wife of then Director Of Pro Personnel, Ray Farmer for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ray is now the Assistant General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. AMAZING family and wonderful people!

Well...Jenny (who is equally amazing) told Vernet that her dad, Paul Bennett, had thought of doing a calendar with 12 Kansas City kids fighting cancer and 12 Chiefs Players...and she wondered if Vernet thought we could do something like that.

Vernet is fearless...and has limitless positivity and energy and she said, "oh yea...we can do that!"

Well, a few months later, we had a calendar with 12 local kids and 12 KC Chiefs players...starting players. The Chiefs were unable to commit as an organization but they said it was fine if we did it with their players.  And we did.  Thanks to Vernet and Yolanda Miles-Waters (Brian Waters wife) who reached out to their friends, and their friends asked their hubbies to do it.  Everyone graciously said yes! INCREDIBLE!

Since then, we have been working directly with the Kansas City professional Sports teams and have been completely overwhelmed by their generosity and good will for our children with cancer.

We sell the calendars for $10 each and all proceeds go directly to the foundation to raise awareness and fund our $100,000 research grants to find targeted treatments for our children with cancer.

This year, we are doing two calendars for the first time.  Sporting KC, our local soccer organization, has a particular interest in helping people with cancer, especially our children! We shot that calendar at Sporting Park earlier in the year and it was just wonderful. Absolutely UNREAL!!

Yesterday, we shot our calendar with the KC Royals at Kauffman Stadium. And again, it was unreal!!

Twelve kiddoes, Garrett, Olivia, Ava, Claire, Tianna, Cade, Braden, Gabriel, Trey, Lexis, Stewart, and Lauren were paired with twelve equally amazing players Moustakas, Butler, Hosmer, Gordon, Escobar, Dyson, Collins, Smith, Crow, Guthrie, and Holland.

The photos are absolutely magical thanks to DeCloud Studios and two photographers from the KC Royals.

Jenny Weber from DeCloud Studios who has designed our calendars since the beginning has outdone herself this year. She had a 24 hour deadline from the time the photo shoot ended until she submits it to the printer to have it in hand for the release of the calendars during a Royals Game on September 7. She has pulled an all-nighter to make it happen. She really is incredibly talented but so very caring. It is very obvious that Jenny and the staff at DeCloud Studios cares about our kids. That is certainly evidenced by her willingness to work 24 hours straight on this to have it ready on time! AMAZING!!!

Braden was able to make this photo shoot and he is traditionally on the cover of the calendar. I won't lie. It was pretty tough to do this photo shoot because I fully realize it is likely his last.  It was very hard and there were a few moments when I had to go in the bathroom to have a cry and then return.

I usually spend a lot more time with the other families and get a chance to visit with them. I didn't get a chance because Kauffman Stadium is HUGE and we were spread out and I wanted to make sure I was at Braden's photo shoot...sometimes I miss it.  I didn't like missing those kiddoes but I did get a chance to at least say hi to everyone! Those kids were absolutely amazing and soooo cute!! We are so lucky to know so many wonderful people!!

We had no idea who the players would be and which kiddoes they would be paired with until the morning of the photo shoot.

Braden was paired with Billy Butler, our designated hitter, and it was SOOO much fun!! He was SUCH a great guy and Braden had a blast with him.  We have lots of pictures from my phone! :)

And as the afternoon went on, Braden got to meet several other players...Hosmer (who is on his Royals shirt), Moose, and Escobar (who I hear was VERY sweet to him and even his mom and wife came over to meet him....WOW).

And B got to hang out with his ladies...these are some of the most important people in his life!! :)  And he gave them all kisses! :)

We had planned for Braden to be on the cover with....get ready for it...GEORGE BRETT!! Yes...THE George Brett.  Mr. Brett had agreed to do the front cover with Braden and the back cover with all of the heroes.


Braden has no idea who George Brett is...but we all did. :)  George Brett is one of Brian's childhood heroes and Brian was pretty excited to meet him. They got to talk for quite a bit. When Mr. Brett asked him if he was ready to go take pictures with him, Braden said, "nope!" (he's not a fan of the whole picture taking thing...all he wanted to do was go play golf at the Little K) ;)

We walked out to centerfield to take the photos for the cover and the whole way, Mr. Brett was talking to Braden and playing with him. Once out there, he helped Braden learn the right batting stance (are you even serious...BEST BATTING COACH EVER!!)

And Sluggerr came out too.  If you aren't a Royals fan, that's our mascot.

Braden LOVES Sluggerr!!

Well...Braden is doing his stance with George Brett and he sees Sluggerr and yells, "SLUGGERR!! I WANT TO GIVE A HUG!!!!!!"

He didn't run away into his arms but I was worried...I figure it's not great to ditch George Brett for Sluggerr...BUT I was wrong...

Mr. Brett stopped and took Braden OVER to Sluggerr to give him a hug.


How cool is that??

He was just so very sweet with Braden at every turn and Braden clearly liked him. Braden doesn't fake it...if he isn't into you, he isn't into you. But...we was certainly into George Brett!! :)  Okay and Billy and Hos and Moose and Escobar....  (still pinching myself)

It was a priceless day but no picture was more priceless than this one.

To me, it screams "TAKE THAT cANCER" because no matter WHAT happens in the future...cANCER didn't get today and it didn't get this precious memory.

Here are few more pictures from the was absolutely the most incredible experience EVER!!



Check out the Crown! :)

Courtesy of the Royals

The whole group...BRAVE, TOUGH Heroes with George Brett

Mr. Escobar, who gave his hat to his hero cool is that?

Billy Butler signig a baseball for Braden

Sluggerr with Braden and his buddy Cade (who went through treatment same time as B)

HOSMER!! :)!! :)

With Billy Butler

This is our hero, Garret with Moose...I just love this pic! 

Laughing with George Brett!

Bear Hug for Billy Butler!

Brian talking to Mr. cool!!

It was an amazing day thanks to the KC Royals and Thirteen AMAZING, KIND, and GENEROUS players!! 

They gave our families something cANCER can never take away...a detour with memories for generations!!


(And calendars will be available on September 7 on our website and at the Team Store at Kauffman Stadium for $10 each. All proceeds to raise awareness for childhood cancer and fund our $100,000 research grants for targeted treatments of childhood cancer to give our children hope for a future.)