Friday, December 26, 2014

All Things "Crimpy" (Christmas)

Last Friday night, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation was selected to be a beneficiary of the ERJADT light display in LaGrange, NY.  ERJADT stands for the initials of Tim and Grace Gay’s three children, because their passion for bringing Christmas joy to the community was ignited after their first child was born – and it has grown into something truly incredible over the years.  And by incredible, I mean record-breaking!!  The Gay family home holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most lights displayed on a residential property.  That’s right (as I told Gavin 100 times while driving through it), they have more Christmas lights than anyone else in the entire world! And believe me, it is something to see.  I couldn’t hold back the tears every time I drove through (which was several times) because I just know how much Ty would have loved every second of it.  In one night, cars driving through were presented with a good old fashion bucket and our best Christmas wishes.  By the end of the night, our donations amounted to way more than a drop in the bucket.  We counted $3,892 – and Mr. Gay wrote a check for $108 the next morning to bring the TLC Foundation to an even $4,000 sweep. WOW!  We are still blown away from the incredible generosity of the Gay family and all of the wonderful people who drove through and made a donation. And to the Divitto's for braving the cold to collect for TLC.  It has completely warmed my heart during this bittersweet time of year.  

I like to think Ty has been spending a LOT of time here this Crimpy season
This is our third Christmas without Ty.  It’s hard to imagine that he was only here with us for 5 of them.  His incredible laughter, contagious smile and vibrant spirit could light up a room.  That special little boy changed the way I look at Christmas forever.  It’s like he opened up the box of Christmas magic.  It’s so incredibly hard without him here.  Hard as Hell… but I am so grateful for the memories, and I truly mean that.  My greatest gift was being his Mama.

Every Christmas with him was pure beauty – even after his cancer diagnosis.  He was only 3 months for his first Christmas, but that didn’t stop us from having several different Christmas outfit changes in one day, and about 15 “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments adorned the tree.  It was so exciting to finally have a baby in the house on Christmas morning!  The next Christmas he was walking, and on his third Christmas he had his little brother crawling around to celebrate with him. In 2010 we celebrated his first Christmas post-diagnosis knowing that he had 3 new tumors in his spine and would likely lose his battle just weeks later.  BUT HE DIDN’T.  Those tumors (or whatever it was on that MRI) miraculously disappeared and our baby began to thrive in 2011.  By the next Christmas he was scooting across the floor to open present after present – practically back on his feet for the first time in over a year. What a gift from God that was! I never believed in Santa Clause more!

Then, by Christmas 2012 he was gone.  Just GONE.  Where is he?  For real?  I know, I know, his spirit is all around us and Heaven is a wonderous place, but I can't sit here and make pretend it doesn't blow my mind to have my baby here with me one day, and simply gone the next.  Leaving me here to keep putting one foot in front of the other and live this life that has turned out to be very different than what I planned.  I have learned that life is like that.  Plain and simple.  Life is hard and bad things happen to good people and I have no choice but to completely accept that.  Life is also absolutely, breathtakingly, beautiful.  A gift.

I don’t remember a single bit of Christmas 2012.  I don’t even know how we did it – but I guess we had to do it for Gavin.  We had a tree, I suppose.  Bought him gifts.  I don’t remember any of it.  Last year was a little better because Gavin was 4 and really started believing in Santa Claus, but it’s still pretty blurry.  Yesterday morning, was totally great; but I would be lying if I said I was genuinely happy. I can’t ever be 100% happy as long as the weight of his absence is all around us (which it will be forever).  Gavin, on the other hand, was SOOOO happy.  He loved all of his gifts and seemed so surprised by all of the leave-behinds from Santa (including the letter he left by the empty plate of cookies, and the footsteps by the fireplace).  It was so fun to watch him open all of those toys.  As he played quietly in his toy room for hours on end, I couldn't help but try to imagine how much louder it would be if Ty was here to play with him.  There is so much less excitement in the house, it’s hard to explain.  The silence is just another reminder of how things are not as they should be.

I am not trying to sit here and write about the gloom and doom of life.  Not at all, and I hope it doesn't sound that way.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love it still.  I love it for Gavin and I love it for TY!  I make sure he is remembered and I smile real smiles when filling his stocking with blue lollipops and chocolate coins.  I close my eyes, shut out the world, and I hear his voice.  It is beautiful and I know I am blessed.  Not the least of my blessings are the people who have surrounded me during my most difficult days.

That first Christmas with cancer, our life was a complete whirlwind of hospital stays, clinic visits, chemotherapy, at-home care, scans, bad news, more bad news, moving into a new house, frantically rushing off to Disney for our Make-A-Wish trip, welcoming Mely into our family, and relishing in the generosity of friends and strangers who loved us and took care of us in any way they could.  I rarely cooked because meals were constantly delivered to our front door (thank you!).  I was spared having to go shopping during the frantic holidays because our incredible friends in Long Beach sent us boxes and boxes of gifts for Gavin and Ty – already wrapped – and that Christmas morning, Lou and I enjoyed the surprises just as much as the boys did. We didn’t have to decorate our house because when we pulled up to our new house after our Disney trip it was lit up from top to bottom in the most elaborate decorations I’ve ever had (I can’t even begin to tell you how much Ty loved that). PEOPLE ARE AWESOME, RIGHT?  Now that is what Christmas is all about.


This was the first year we had Ty's urn.  It took a long time for the artist to complete it, and he sits on our bedroom dresser - exactly where he belongs.  On a whim, I remembered this tiny hat and scarf that adorned a bottle of wine that was gifted to us last year (thank you, Mellissa!) and I placed it on him.  It's totally silly, I know, and maybe you think it's weird.  All I know is that Ty would have thought this was sooo funny, and that alone makes me incredibly happy.  This is sure to become a tradition of sorts :)  On Christmas morning we visited his statue in Magnolia Park and did the same thing.  Ty, baby, I know you love it!  We do, too...




Merry Christmas friends.  Thank you always for your love and support.  XOXOXO.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's YOUR Muddy Puddle?

My eyes are filled with happy, sad and excited tears.  This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  Thank you, PBS #cancerfilms, for seeing the beauty in the Muddy Puddles Project, and explaining it in the most perfectly simple way I could have ever imagined.  Thank you for making sure Ty was remembered, that his incredible perspective is being shared so widely, and that all children with cancer - all everyone with cancer - are being honored in your work.  Click below and watch the video in full screen.  I bet you can't keep a dry eye, either :)



http://cancerfilms.org/blog/muddy-puddles-of-joy/

“Everybody says to me, ‘I can’t imagine, I don’t know how you could stay so strong.’ The truth is, when you’re faced with a child with cancer, you don’t have a choice.”
Ty Campbell was two and half years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis was a complete shock to his mother and upended the life of a healthy, athletic young boy.
In the midst of his fight against cancer, Cindy asked her son, “What are we going to do when you get all better?” Ty defiantly declared: “I’m going to jump in a muddy puddle.”
Cindy’s story is the latest in a series of intimate video profiles from PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies about the impact of cancer on countless individual lives.
You can join the conversation and share your story of how cancer has impacted your life by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter using #CancerFilm. You can watch more profiles like Cindy’s on The Producers’ Blog.
Video produced by Redglass Pictures for PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.
Thank you, Redglass Pictures.  You all are amazing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TODAY IS #GIVINGTUESDAY!



Now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, we thought it would be appropriate to reach out to friends of the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation with our annual appeal for donations on the day that is now dubbed, Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is a reminder to make a charitable contribution at the start of the holiday giving season.  Thank you for continuing to support childhood cancer research by donating to the TLC Foundation in memory of Ty and in honor of all children fighting cancer.
We set up a fundraising page specifically for Giving Tuesday with a year-end goal of $10,000.  Last year we far surpassed our goal of $5,000If everyone on this distribution packed a lunch or skipped the Starbucks and instead made a donation, we would reach that goal in no time!  We will be giving out prizes to random donors throughout the day including t-shirts and PRET*TY bracelets!
All donations are tax-deductible.  Be sure to claim your donation if your company has a corporate match program to double the impact of every dollar donated. 

$25: funds a researcher in the lab for one hour - let's keep them working toward a cure
$50: if your company matches 100%, a $50 donation could equate to 4 hours in a lab
$100: helps fund the purchase of innovative lab equipment and technology

TY - Thank you.  In memory of Ty and all of the children who lost their lives to cancer.  In honor of all the littlest fighters who are currently in the trenches of treatment.  And, in support of those children that will be diagnosed tomorrow.  Thank you for your support.  

www.razoo.com/story/givingtuesdaytlc