Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A glimpse into Lou's life

Before I share Lou's speech, I wanted to share Foundation news.  We are so incredibly proud to introduce Emily Peachey as a new ambassador for the TLC Foundation. Emily stars in the upcoming film The Fault in Our Stars - alongside Shailene Woody, William DeFoe and Laura Dern (based on the NYT bestseller by John Green).  For those of you who haven't read the book yet, it is a story about young love and the reality of childhood cancer.  It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story, and of course it touched Emily deeply since working on the film.  She worked with several cancer patients on-set and was driven to do something!  Many young, up and coming celebrities wouldn't be so caring and selfless, and I find her actions to be so very admirable. We are truly humbled and honored to have her support :) Together we will raise awareness for childhood cancer and make a difference for these kids!

The past two weeks have been spent trying to juggle event planning in between all of these snow days!  I can't believe we are home today, yet again.  Gavin loves it, and to be honest I don't mind a quiet day in PJ's with a beautiful fire, either, but I have been missing the office and missing my writing.  I am also missing the sunshine.  While the snow is certainly beautiful and magical in it's own right - after day in and day out of this white stuff, I'm really looking forward to warmer days ahead!!  Like. Really.

Instead of my own writing, today I want to share with you something that I never have the opportunity to share - Lou's perspective.  In his speech on Saturday, he gave everyone a glimpse into his daily routine, and what his life is like without his son.  I am lucky enough to have maintained this journal to find support and an outlet for my grief.  I share my everyday experiences and my innermost heartaches.  Lou has never had such an outlet, which is why I think everyone at the "Share the Love" event was so surprised when his speech moved the room to tears so suddenly.  In between the laughter, the drinks and the rowdy casino tables, Lou gave an incredible speech that reminded everyone in the room why we were all gathered together that night.  Pasted below is just a portion of that speech.  I am so proud of him and so in love.

I’d like to start by thanking DiBico construction, NBC-NY, Grass Geenie and Only Perfect Parties. Without our sponsors, we would not have been able to pull together such an incredible event. 

I want to stand here in front of you and say something short and to the point.  However, I need it to be impactful enough for you to never stop supporting the foundation we created in honor of Ty. So here goes……..

Our 1st born son died 2 weeks after his 5th birthday. Let me repeat that…  
Our 1st born son died 2 weeks after his 5th birthday from brain cancer.  
He wasn't predisposed or at risk of getting cancer any more than any other child, but it happened.  One day he was a perfectly healthy little boy, the next day we were told he had cancer.  2 and a half years after that, he was gone.

That was only after witnessing his incessant suffering for the duration of those years. His 20 surgeries, chemotherapy, 250 nights in the hospital and all of the pain, anxiety and setbacks that went along with the cancer and treatments. 

After Ty passed away, someone sent us a stuffed doll that resembled him.  He has spikey blonde hair, green eyes, and wears a pair of Jets pajamas.  Every day, I wake up, take the "Ty doll" out of bed and place it in a chair sitting up; I walk over to our dresser, kiss Ty’s ashes and say good morning.  I look at his picture and smile. On my way out I kiss Cindy and Gavin goodbye, clear my head and try to remember what’s important, determined to make a difference.  Throughout the day I communicate with my wife and see how she is handling the day, discuss our next research grant or fundraiser.

We then meet at home for dinner, smile at Gavin and know we’re blessed. After bath time Cindy goes back to work on the Foundation and I go upstairs with Gavin.

I put the Ty doll to bed, then Gavin, and together Gavin and I say goodnight to Ty and do prayers. I then roll over and pretend I’m with Ty for the rest of our old prayer routine, trying to remember the sound of his sweet whispers.  Once Gavin’s asleep, Cindy and I meet downstairs to talk about the Foundation and Ty.  At bedtime we go upstairs, kiss Ty’s ashes and bring the Ty doll back to bed with us knowing we worked hard to save a child we will never meet.

About a half our later we hear the mini thumping down the hall and are joined by Gavin.  This always brings a smile because we were lucky enough to always have had  Ty in our bed every night and know the value of these precious nights.

This is a sad story. 
But despite that reality, we will not let it have a bad ending.  
We will not fall in a hole and give up.
We are the luckiest parents in the world, for being blessed with Ty and Gavin in the first place. 
We are grateful for the extra time we had with TY. That boy has been an angel since the day he was born and will be eternally.
We are thankful for our loving families, our caring friends and supportive strangers. 
We are thankful for our countless volunteers.
We are thankful for our board members and I’d love for you all to come up here to be recognized.

Some of our incredible board members
Next on behalf of The Ty Louis Campbell Foundation I’d like to recognize someone who made this foundation what it is and whom we could not exist without. Ty’s mother, my wife, Cindy.  This is an “All for Ty” award for all the long days and late nights you’ve spent working to help these special children.
thank you, what an incredible surprise!
In closing I want to thank all of you for being here in support of The Ty Louis Campbell Foundation.
Lastly, I’d like you to all join me in a tradition around our house by raising your glasses and saying “cheers to TY”. 

I'm so lucky to call him my husband.  He is the best father in the world, and his relationship with Ty was one of profound love.

Saturday night was such a great time.  I am still smiling :)  We raised a ton of money (grossing almost $45,000) and everyone had tons of fun at the casino.  I was brought to tears when I saw my friends from college who I haven't seen in years, and my co-worker who I last saw when Ty was first diagnosed.  So much has happened, and these beautiful women braved the snow to travel to Greenwich and support me.  I was honored and overwhelmed by everyone's efforts to be there.  I hope everyone agrees it was well worth it! It was such a success, we will be sure to host it again year over year.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

World Cancer Day

Cancer is the second leading cause of death around the world, just behind heart disease.  One in four people die of cancer.  Sadly, I doubt there is a person reading this post that has avoided being touched by cancer in one way, shape, or form.   So, I’m not sure we need a dedicated day to remind people about the tragedy that is “cancer” but I do believe that having this day is actually more empowering than it is depressing.  We are not alone.  This is a worldwide problem that isn’t going away.  We stand united, and as tragic as it may be to watch our newsfeeds fill with Placards and ribbons, it is also inspiring.  Awesome, actually.  Each and every one of the fighters – big and small – show strength and courage, and the network of support from the world around them is as humbling as it is beautiful. 

Ty is not the first person I love to die from cancer, and he won’t be the last.  That is such an impossible and hopeless statement to write.  It is not like me to sound so negative and over-simplified.  As if cancer is going to happen, even to kids, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  
Despite the statistics, of course, there is plenty we can do about it.  Just taking a picture holding a placard is doing something about it.  It is a small, tiny, baby step, but it’s doing something.  Awareness inspires more people to donate to the cause, and those donations help families and fund life-saving research that will change these horrific statistics.  I so totally and completely believe in Some Day, and I hope you do to.

Which leads me back to today.  World cancer day.  Or tomorrow, or the next day, or any day whatsoever.  What are you going to do?  I have a suggestion, at least for the duration of February. 

It's impossible to look at Max without seeing Ty.  I am head over heels in love with Max and his entire family (who wouldn't be), so I want to do everything I can to help make his birthday wish come true.  He wants to make the largest rainbow loom chain in the whole wide world.  How adorable.  It reminds me of Ty's wish to jump in muddy puddles.  It's so innocent, so simple and so beautiful.  If I was in treatment and someone asked me my wish, I can only imagine it would be something outlandish and exotic like world travel or flying an airplane.  These kids - all they want is a chance to be kids!  To play with their rainbow loom, to jump in puddles, to dance in the rain. 
It's a snow day in New York again, so I know what Gavin and I will be doing!  Rainbow Looming to help make Max's birthday wish come true. 
THIS LINK will take you to the downloadable version of the flier below that explains the project, and can be used to print and present the idea to your kids' schools, girl scout troops, sports teams and other clubs.  What a great way to empower kids and help them do something for the cause!  Max's Facebook Page has even more information and Max loves to see how many likes he has gotten in just a few short page so please visit https://www.facebook.com/LoomAgainstCancer