Although the purpose of this blog is primarily technical, I find myself approaching the end of 2022 looking to encourage those around me to donate to charity. For those that didn't know already, in April of 2022, my 3-year-old daughter Nora lost a two-year battle with brain/spine cancer. As we enter the first holiday season without her, I find myself reflecting on ways to continue to share her story and promote the organizations that helped us so immensely in the past two years. In no particular order, the following is a listing of organizations my family supports and a little detail on WHY we support them.
Angel Flight Central
Angel Flight Central is an organization that coordinates transportation for medical and humanitarian efforts. I've been a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight Central since 2017, and in 2021 during Nora's radiation treatments, we found ourselves in need of transportation assistance due to airplane maintenance issues.
in times of medical need, where your healthcare provider is hundreds of miles away, it can be burdensome, even painful, to make those trips via car. In our case, with cancer pain growing in Nora's back, the concept of 6 hours in a car each weekend was insurmountable, but < 2 hours in an airplane was doable. Thanks to Angel Flight Central and other volunteer pilots, Nora spent time at HOME during the holidays last year rather than at a hotel away from family. Those memories are ones I will cherish for a lifetime.
Given that all pilots donate the time, aircraft, and expenses to complete the transportation, donations to Angel Flight Central often reach far greater than a dollar-for-dollar gain as all contributions are utilized for facilitation as no compensation is ever paid to pilots. Allowing easy transportation, no matter the distance is something that you can only really value when you NEED it.
Make-a-Wish and specifically Make-a-Wish Iowa is another organization that we will forever cherish. Covid has created a large backlog of wishes yet to be granted, but given Nora's condition, we were fortunate to have Nora's wish for a magical Disney vacation granted in January of 2022.
The wish granted by Make-a-Wish allowed us to experience Disney, and other Orlando area attractions in a way that wouldn't have been otherwise possible. Nora was able to ride more rides in a single day than you could imagine and this created yet another positive memory for our family that I will remember forever.
Each year Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with critical illnesses, giving a little bit of joy in an otherwise dark time in their lives.
Give Kids the World Village
Give Kids the World Village is a not-for-profit resort in Florida that provides no-cost vacations for families with children that have critical illnesses. They were our host for our Orlando trip through Make-A-Wish and they truly went above and beyond to make our entire family feel welcome and to ensure that we had the very best time possible.
Sometimes its the little things, but they truly try to make the experiences memorable for families with amazing coordination and great support for all things you might need while on vacation when traveling with a child with a critical illness.
Blank Children's Hospital Child Life
Child life programs exist at hospitals all across the US, Blank Children's Hospital is the local hospital that supported us through much of Nora's treatment. These programs are 100% funded by donations but provide critical help to children and families when spending long periods of time in the hospital.
The Child Life programs provide toys and other support for children and families when at the hospital, regardless of short or long-term stays. In Nora's case, they knew every time she would come and they would have toys ready for her. So rather than dreading a trip to the hospital, it would become a play time for Nora. These programs are invaluable. look at your own local hospitals and they will most likely have a similar program with funding/support needs.
Children's Cancer Research
Only a small percentage of annual federal funding goes to childhood cancer research and trying to find the "right" organization to support is hard. We have been supporting Unravel Iowa ourselves. We are focused on supporting those that are truly driving towards cures and advancements in treatment options for ALL patients.
There are so many other organizations that are valuable to support; these just happen to be a few of the ones that we support and have experience with. Thank you for reading this post and possibly supporting any of these organizations or similar ones in your respective areas of the world as we approach Giving Tuesday.
I continue to be thankful for the support we have received over these past few years, we are truly blessed by an amazing community and I thank each and every one of you.
This is one of those rare personal posts among the technology posts, I'll be back to the technical stuff soon enough! Don't forget to hug your kids and make those memories as you never know what the future holds. Happy Holidays to ALL
For those that had not heard of Nora's Story you can read about it here.