Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I had a BIG day!

Warning..this post is going to be a long one!

As you know, I recently volunteered at an event that my work sponsored.  It was for St. Baldrick's.  I work for a very large company and we were able to have events in 10 different locations all around the world.  We raised over $500K for St. Baldrick's!!  That is amazing!  I am so proud to work for such a great company that gives back to the community.

Our event was held on March 16th.  Prior to the event, all the volunteers were on a phone call going over who was going to what, where, etc.  During the call, the it was asked if any of us were volunteering in honor of anyone.  I spoke up.  I told Layla's story.  The leader of the event asked if I would share her story on stage at the event.  GULP!  I thought, OH NO!  Nothing frightens me more (okay, maybe flying) than speaking in front of a large crowd.  He could tell I hesitated and he said that if I was uncomfortable that someone else could do it.  I told him that I would think about it.

So, I thought about it.  I, it takes a lot of courage and guts to go in front of 300+ people and speak.  See, I was always the girl with the shaky, trembling knees when it came time to give an oral book report in front of my classmates in elementary school.  It has NEVER been my thing. 

Then it hit me.  It took Layla a whole lot of courage and guts to fight that monster.  The fight and tenacity she showed will always be an inspiration to me.  So, obviously getting on the stage and telling her story no longer seemed that bad.  Still nerve wracking, but now I knew I could do it.

So, the day came.  The event started.  The room was full and I was working the T-shirt table.  Our emcee got up and kicked off the event!  He then said "and now we have someone who would like to share something with us, is Jenn here?"  Did he just say my name.  I knew it was going to be a possibility, but I thought surely there was someone else who had a story to tell too.  But, I guess not.  So I raised my hand from the very back of the room and made my way to the stage.

The first thing I said as I took the microphone, was that I have never spoken in front of a large crowd before and that if I faint, someone better pick me up.  So here I was on the stage.  All eyes upon me, lights beating down hot on my face, which I am sure was already 50 shades of red!  I took a deep breath and told her story. 

It went something like this:

"I am here to honor Layla Grace, a little girl, who one week ago today lost her battle with cancer.  She was only 27months old.  Young enough to count in months.  She was taken away by a cancer called Neuroblastoma.  A rare cancer that attacks the nervous system.  She fought very, very hard"...then I kind of draw a blank as to what else I said. I wasn't up there very long. But enought to make an impact and introduce all those people to Layla.

Surprisingly, it was the easiest thing to do.  And I truly think that is because she touched me soo deeply and emotionally that it was easy to talk about her and share her with everyone. 

I walked off the stage and back to the t-shirt table.  A few minutes went by and our SVP of Sales came over to talk with me about Layla.  We talked and he told me how touched he was.

A few other people came up to me over the course of the event and said the same thing.  They cried, they were moved, etc.

Then the SVP of Sales motioned for me to join him in a conversation he was having with the Chief Philanthropist of St. Baldrick's.  She told me how much that story moved her.  We spoke for about another 20minutes. I shared with her all I could about Layla.  How I came to know of her.  How much she meant to me and how she has impacted my life. 

This is where the story gets interesting!

I told her that I wanted to start my own non-profit to bring awareness to cord blood donation because it cancer's such as Neuroblastoma, it is genetic.  Which means, Layla would not have been able to use her own banked cord blood.  Of course, she knew all about Neuroblastoma.  In fact, she told me that the bulk of their money goes to finding a cure for Neuroblastoma.  In fact, check this link out!  She then asked me what my goal was and how I was going to run my non-profit.  I told her all I wanted to do and achieve.  And she said "Here is my card.  I want to Partner with you.  Call me when you get up and running."  WHAT??  Did that really just happen!!  Oh my!  St. Baldrick's wants to partner with me in bringing awareness to cord blood donation!!  Woot, Woot!!  I was smiling from ear to ear and ALL I could think about was Layla.

All because of a little girl named Layla.   Had I not gotten on that stage and told her story, this would not be happening.  And this happening, means that MAYBE another child will be spared from this ugly monster.


julie jensen said...

congrats!!! i am so happy to hear all this. thanks for sharing your life and known it encourages its readers. luv ya. julie

Jenny said...

WOW! Jenn! Amazing! You must leave a comment on Layla's blog letting them know. They will be so happy that Layla will be leaving more and more legacies. Also, leave a comment on the FB page called Praying for Layla Grace, I'm sure lots of people there will read your post and want to DO something. Because everyone feels a lack of WHAT they can do and wanting to do something, just like us...

Good work, girl! I'm proud of you!

James said...

I'm very proud of you Babe. Great work.