As February comes to a close I wanted to make sure that the last post of the month was about the heart. As many of you know I became friends with a wonderful family, the Pages thorough my work at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. They are an inspirational family and despite the adversity they have faced in light of their son’s congenital heart disease, they always find a way to turn a negative into something positive for someone else.
Some of you may remember Max, as young Darth Vadar in the infamous Volkswagen commercial a few years back. I received an email from Jennifer the other day about a new campaign Max is helping shine some light on, called Mended Little Hearts.
This inspiring organization began in 2004, when four heart patients came together in Boston to discuss their heart surgery experiences. Out of that meeting came the recognition to support these families of children born with heart defects and heart disease.
Today, Mended Little Hearts has over 10,000 members and over 80 Chapters in the U.S. and Mexico. Proof that one heart can heal so many others.
“If someone had raised funds for research for us 30 years ago and our baby was given a chance to live. Ten years from now will be a whole different ball game into medicine, science and technology into heart defect research. We don’t want to wait for what doctors say ‘will be….’ we want to fund research to change the future for ‘what can be…’ for all children, like my beautiful Joshua suffering from heart disease. Out of our heartache, there is hope….”
The words above were sent to me five years ago from non-profit founder, mother and champion for families dealing with congenital heart disease, Francie Paul. I spoke with Francie and board chair of Saving Tiny Hearts, Larry Kluge, to see what has happened since they began this journey over a decade ago to bring awareness and research to Congenital heart disease .
CM: What do you want people to know about Congenital Heart Disease?
Francie: I want people to know that twice as many children die from heart disease versus all pediatric cancers combined and that cancer receives five times the funding for research.
Larry: Over a million children are born each year with congenital heart disease.
CM: What is your goal at Saving Tiny Hearts?
Francie: Our goal is to fund a project that will not only save our son’s life but to ensure that no one else should ever have to go through this.
Larry: We have been able to fund over 30 research projects that keep getting us closer to making this a dream a reality. We want to find the answer that makes Saving Tiny Hearts obsolete.
CM: What keeps you going?
Larry: The love, passion and support of our community is extraordinary and the researchers we support.
Francie: People carry you through your darkest days and they have made our journey all the more humbling. It is the heart, hope and passion of our team. We are all a part of this.
As Francie said, five years ago “Out of our heartache there is hope.”
February is heart month. Over the years, I have interviewed so many people with such heart warming stories, but one that has truly touched me is the story of the Paul family and their journey as parents of a child living with congenital heart disease.
You may remember them, because they are extraordinary people who took their pain and turned it into a non-profit foundation called Saving Tiny Hearts.
When I first interviewed Francie Paul five years ago she sent me this note, which I wanted to share here today. On friday, I will tell you what the Paul Family is doing now.
Thank YOU for your beautiful post– we are extremely honored to have Saving tiny Hearts featured.
We did have high profile malpractice attorneys at our doorstep…practically before we were out of the hospital from Joshua’s firstheart surgery…it wasn’t who we were…our life’s mission came out of the greatest need for medicine and science into heart defects to catch up to support all children, like our little love, afflicted with heart defects.
Starting the Saving tiny Hearts Society began before our Joshua’s second heart surgery (- he has had 3) at 3 months old, after pediatric heart surgeons told us that there was a desperate need to fund research, that young hungry scientists were being turned down for government funding because they didn’t have enough monies to beef up their revolutionary proposals….which is where we would come in, to provide the seed money for it all.
Most people don’t realize that so many babies and children do not survive because of lack of research to save them. We didn’t know that it was the #1 birth defect in the world and the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths….we didn’t know that it could happen to our baby.
Someone had raised funds for research for us 30 years ago and our baby was given a chance to live. Ten years from now will be a whole different ball game into medicine, science and technology into heart defect research. We don’t want to wait for what doctors say ‘will be….’ we want to fund research to change the future for ‘what can be…’ for all children, like my beautiful Joshua suffering from heart disease. Out of our heartache, there is hope….
I don’t know if you had seen the movie ‘Something the Lord Made’ but it was an HBO movie about one of the very first heart surgeries ever performed, the Blalock-Taussig Shunt (-BT Shunt). It was the very first successful heart surgery that began with a blue baby as doctors were afraid to touch the heart and felt that of these babies wouldn’t live otherwise, so they would try this most revolutionary procedure on a baby first. Nearly 60 years later,at 4 days old, after our baby was stabilized, he had a Blalock-Taussig shunt.
We can’t thank you enough for sharing our story; it has truly been a humbling journey for us and in the greatest of heartache, we have seen the very best in friends. Can’t wait to read more Charity Matters and see all of the amazing things that are happening because of you.
“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
The other day in looking through quotes from past presidents I was so inspired by these wise men, that it was hard to choose just one to share today. These quotes got me thinking about our country, who we are as a nation and where we began.
I am inspired in knowing that our forefathers knew we have to take care of one another and in the knowledge that as many things have changed, that need has not. We are our brother’s keepers and George Washington knew that, “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
With Valentines Day on Tuesday, who knew that we had another day to celebrate this week? Today, is National Random Acts of Kindness day…I know, who knew? This is actually such a wonderful way to start the long holiday weekend by doing a random act of kindness for someone. It can be as simple as a smile, putting coins in someone’s parking meter or even giving someone a compliment.
In case you need a few ideas or inspiration there is a non-profit called Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.org that has tips, ideas, lesson plans for simple ways to be kind and here is a video to get you thinking about how you can celebrate today and the act of kindness.
The most beautiful gift you can give is a little piece of yourself to make someone else’s day better. It will make you feel great and create a chain reaction of kindness. Imagine if our world was like this everyday, not just today…
So, here is wishing you a day filled with giving and receiving random acts of kindness. As the quote says, ” Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
Today is Valentine’s Day, a day loved by some and despised by others. Regardless of where you sit on the Valentine’s spectrum it is a day to think about those you love, and what could be so bad about that?
I know, I know, Hallmark has commercialized the holiday but Valentine’s Day is nothing new, it has been celebrated since about 270 AD. The history goes that Pope Gelasius was not a huge fan of the pagan fertility celebration and decided to re-invent the day, so to speak, by honoring St. Valentine’s death instead…not so romantic…
The first Valentine’s cards or letters began in the 1400s. In Great Britain Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated around the 17th century and Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines, as early as the early 1700s.
According to the Greeting Card Association, it is estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards will be sent this year and according to Forbes, Americans will spend 18 billion dollars on Valentines purchases today.
So, whether you are a fan of the holiday or not. Acknowledging those we love on this day, is something human beings have been doing for centuries. We could all use a little more love in our world…regardless of your feelings about the holiday.
As Thoreau said, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
Since this week’s theme is teamwork, it seemed like the perfect time to share one of the most fun team building activities to hit the philanthropic world in a long time…The Do Good Bus. Last spring, I was at an event for Project Giving Kids and was introduced to this amazing woman named Rebecca Pontius . When I found out what she does, I knew I had to share with each of you…because it is just the coolest most fun thing EVER!
Rebecca is the founder of the non-profit, The Do Good Bus. The Do Good Bus idea came together when Rebecca and her brother were on a party bus for a 30th birthday party. They had friends from everywhere, who didn’t know one another and she and her brother surprised all the guests with the destination of the party last-minute. The party was such a success that Rebecca and her brother had an idea that they could use this same format to connect volunteers and non-profits, making volunteering fun. Their mission was to give people an opportunity to get involved, do good together and learn more about their community.
Here is how it works:
Today, almost six years later, the Do Good Bus has taken over 180 rides with almost 5,000 do gooders to over 109 causes. I asked Rebecca, if she knew when she had made a difference, and her answer was, “Every time you get on the bus and see strangers connecting, rolling up their sleeves to volunteer and do something great for a non-profit in need and then share stories together like old friends..that’s when I know we have made a difference.”
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
For all of you that have followed Charity Matters over the past few years, most of you know that I truly enjoy being the storyteller. I am Irish after all, so I guess it comes naturally? However, when the Good News Only site called Hooplaha.com approached me about doing a story on Charity Matters….well, the tables were turned.
The Hooplaha team and I share a common belief that people are innately good and more than that, good news and stories about good people doing great work need to be shared. So with that in mind, if this so inspires you, please feel free to share. The world needs more kindness and goodness, so thanks for spreading some and check out Hooplaha if you need a little happy news to brighten your day.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
I hope you had a great weekend and that your team won last night….my team didn’t make it to the Superbowl this year, but at least made it to the photo above. In watching the Superbowl, you had to admire the teamwork that both the Patriots and the Falcons put into their game. It is the key to success in most things, not just in football. Every non-profit comes with its team.
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to get to spend time with my team. We worked, played, debated, problem solved and ultimately came together to develop new goals for our organization. The key was team work.
So this post is dedicated to the 1.9 million non-profit teams in this country. You are all winners and together we can do anything!
“In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” Arnold H. Glasow
Since we started the week talking about resolutions and goals, I thought it only fitting that we would end it on a somewhat similar note. Being that Superbowl 51 (don’t ask me to try the roman numeral version of 51) is upon us, I think it is worth noting what each of these extraordinary athletes has committed to their goal.
Raising three sons, all who played football, I am guessing that these athletes started young with their goal setting. Like all of us, each year theses athletes’ goals and dreams expanded. An enormous amount of hard work, dedication and commitment is bringing each of these football players to that moment…when a dream becomes reality.
Meanwhile, all of us, will be rooting for our teams (Atlanta Falcons or the New England Patriots), catching up with friends, watching the great ads and hopefully, taking a small internal moment to realize that each of these athletes have worked towards their goals or goal post. Perhaps, maybe taking a small moment to ask ourselves, if we know where our own goal posts are?
Today is February 1st and the beginning of heart month. Over the years, I have interviewed a number of non-profit founders who have started incredible organizations to find a cure for congenital heart disease, which is the number one birth defect in the world.
This month, I will share some of those stories with you and re-visit some old Charity Matters friends to update you on their progress. I came across musician and heart transplant recipient, Paul Cardall’s video the other day and thought it sets the stage for this important month.
So, as we begin the month of February, let’s all remember to keep our hearts open to those who suffer with this horrible disease.