It probably started in the spring. Meghan’s class had been working on a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. (alexslemonade.org) The entire third grade was raising money for childhood cancer, and she took her fundraising work very seriously.
Meghan decided to make a bookmark, with a picture of my cousin Meghan – Angel Meghan as we speak of her – who died from Leukemia in 1991. She wanted to make her connection to the fundraising personal. As we prepared baskets of bookmarks to leave with people we knew, Meghan decided we should sell ribbons too.
So, I asked her what color? She wasn’t sure what I meant, but I really didn’t know if there was a color ribbon for childhood cancer. So, she took out her iPad and a quick search found us gold. The gold ribbon was the color for childhood cancer.
We dropped baskets off with my Uncle Chris and cousin Katie (“Angel Meghan’s” Dad and sister.) They were eager to help, and passed baskets off to friends of theirs. Before we knew it we were making more ribbons, and more bookmarks.
Meghan was so absolutely thrilled to raise over $500 for the project. It was such a huge success and we were so proud.
That project raised her awareness of her ability to do for others, and helped her confidence so much. It also made her aware, acutely aware, of cause ribbons. She would identify the ones she knew, like the pink ribbon for breast cancer, and she would look up ones she didn’t know. She learned about the puzzle piece for autism, and even yellow ribbons being used when soldiers are away from home. I think that is the project that truly got her using a search engine too. (Thanks Mrs. Azzarello!)
It seemed only natural, that months later, having watched me receive pink ribbons after my breast cancer surgery, and after countless surgeries and appointments of her own, that she would ask what “our” ribbon was. Not sure of course exactly what she meant, I had her clarify. “What is the ribbon for genetic diseases?”
So back to the search engines we went. We tried a few other places. but eventually decided that this was the one.
It made sense. The Global Genes Project had a logo that reflected her cause. This was the ribbon for Rare Diseases – genetic disorders like our Cowden’s Syndrome. It Made sense, their saying, “Hope – It’s in our genes” was catchy enough, and it left you thinking about the connection between genes, and jeans – the denim ribbon.
The next question should have had a simple answer – but it didn’t. She said, “Can I have one?”
Once she clarified that she needed something, something to represent her, and all she has gone through, I understood. She needed a symbol, something to wear that would make it easier to talk to people, that would help her feel proud, and strong, like it all mattered.
Sure, I thought. We will get you something.
Well I looked, and I looked, and I looked. There was nothing. Beyond the sticker I had gotten as a thank you when I sent a contribution to The Global Genes Project, I could find NOTHING for her to own or wear, no jewelry or clothes with this “denim” ribbon.
Well sometimes the best ideas are born out of lunchtime conversation. So, as I sat with some teacher friends the next day, I recanted Meghan’s desire to have her own cause ribbon. One friend, the pure hearted Mom of an autistic son, who was wearing a beautiful diamond puzzle piece around her neck, “got it” on so many levels. And, her husband happens to be a jeweler.
She said, “give me what you have, let’s see what we can do.”
Well I think we all thought it would be easier than it was. But after weeks of searching her husband determined that there was nothing, anywhere like what we were looking for. If we wanted it, we could have it, but they would have to make the mold.
Fortunate to have good and generous people in our lives, we paid only for the cost of the creation of the piece. My friends husband generously donated his time, because he too “gets it.” Their goal was only to make my girl happy. And for that I am so grateful.
After anxious months of waiting, the piece arrived last Friday. She treats it like a rare gem.
It is RARE, a one of a kind beauty – just like my girl. But, never staying focused on herself for too long, she thought – wouldn’t it be nice if we could do a fundraiser, and sell these so that we could raise money for The Global Genes Project?
Well, last Friday we sent them an Email with several pictures. It is a crazy time of year, but we are anxious to hear from them, and hoping that Meghan’s idea, can benefit many others. It would be fitting. That’s just the kind of kid she is.