Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fear

Once, when my oldest child was a baby, I watched a show about missing children. Experts provided tips for protecting your child, such as not putting your child’s first name on his or her shirt, teaching your child about “stranger danger”, carrying a recent photo of your child to provide to the authorities - just in case - to name a few. After telling stories about well-known child abduction mysteries like the Adam Walsh kidnapping, the narrator went on to give statistics stating that the vast majority of child abductions are committed by family members, most specifically, estranged parents.

Still….

A week or two later I had a conversation with my brother-in-law about the show. I told him how scared I was for my daughter’s safety and how often my worry over all the bad things that could happen to her kept me up at night.

“You never know fear until you have a child,” Steve told me.

Well, crap.  He was right.

It’s a scary thing when your child gets sick. First you wonder whether you should call the pediatrician’s office or just run him over to the emergency room. Or maybe just a little ibuprofen will do the trick? If the fever or headache lasts more than twenty-four hours you find yourself googling his symptoms on the internet. Instead of finding the reassurance you need, you learn about the many different illnesses your child MAY be experiencing. 

Somehow you talk yourself down off the ledge long enough to gather the courage (and presence of mind) to finally call the doctor and find out if your child’s symptoms warrant a visit for a look-over. You drive yourself and your child - who may or may not still be exhibiting his symptoms by this time - over to the pediatrician’s office and wait your turn among two or three, or fifteen, other families who also finally bit the bullet and brought their sick kid in for that antibiotic prescription that will return him or her to good health in short order. And then you realize that even if your child was on the mend when he first entered the doctor’s office, chances are he picked up some new germ once he walked through those doors. All was not in vain, after all.

They finally call your child’s name and the two of you follow the nurse down the hall and into the private exam room, where you tell your story to the nurse, watch as she checks your child’s vitals, and then wait some more. The good doctor eventually stops by to have a look-see, and you discuss symptoms once again, expecting the typical head nod as you describe the illness’s course and await the inevitable prescription that you know will serve as your ticket back to a healthy household (and, hopefully, school). 

But things take a sudden and unexpected twist when the afore-mentioned fine doctor tells you to take your child for more tests. Or, you lose your ability to think clearly when he tells you to go ahead on over to the emergency room because he’s just not quite sure what’s going on with your kid.

That stuff will make you lose your appetite for a day or two. Or a couple of weeks, depending on how long you end up staying at the hospital.

As frightening as it is to watch your child lose his ability to stand, walk, or even roll over in bed on his own, you develop a sense of gratitude when you learn his illness is not life-threatening.

Because you realize that other parents are not so lucky. You watch them enter the elevator on the fourth floor - oncology. Their bloodshot eyes reveal their stress and sorrow as your hearts break for them over and over again. Instead of stepping over to them and wrapping them up in your arms, you stand in your little corner of the stark elevator reading - for the one thousandth time - the notice about the free flu shots being offered next week. And, again for the one thousandth time, you wonder how they will make it through the night, week, month, year. You hope and pray that they have the support group you have. And, every time, you offer a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe, a cure will come along and help increase their child’s odds of survival. 

Because, now that you’re a parent, you know and understand fear as you’ve never known or understood it before.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kansas City, Here We Come

I followed the paramedics down the hospital corridor as they wheeled Billy’s stretcher toward the  pediatric intensive care unit on the second floor. Hot as it was, I shivered uncontrollably. As we neared the PICU and the paramedics prepared to pass Billy over to a hospital employee, one of the paramedics - my friend, Vince - turned toward me.

“He’s going to be just fine, Dawn. He’s in really good hands here,” he told me.

“I know, Vince. It’s just that the last time we had to bring our son to the ICU, we didn't get to take him back home with us.”

And, just like that, the reality of the situation finally set in. 

Eighteen years earlier, our son, Chuckie, fell into a swimming pool. Somehow he slipped out into the back yard unnoticed by any of us. My brother-in-law found him. We followed the ambulance to the hospital, where he spent three days in ICU hooked up to tubes and wires before doctors determined there was no brain activity. 

We left the hospital alone and empty.

“I can’t do that again, Vince,” I said to my friend as his arms engulfed me in a reassuring hug. 

“I thought about that on the way up here,” he said, “this won’t be like that, Dawn. You’ll get to take Billy home with you.”

I thanked him one more time and said good-bye as the admissions nurse whisked me away to answer questions and fill out paperwork. After about fifteen minutes of regurgitating Billy’s medical history, another nurse escorted me through a pair of locked doors and onto the unit that housed the hospital’s most critical patients. As we rounded the corner and passed the main nurses’ station I saw a small group of people, clothed in hazmat gear, crowded around a patient bed inside a glassed-in room. It took me a minute to realize the patient was my son. 

“Well, that’s a bit of overkill,” I thought to myself as I approached the group of healthcare workers.

“Mrs. Sticklen?” One of the scientists asked me from behind her paper face mask.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Hello, I’m Dr. Thompson, the PICU attending physician.” She then introduced the others in her group. I found myself surrounded by a medical team that consisted of one or two residents, a medical student or two, and two or three nurses. All wore plastic yellow gowns that covered their arms and upper torso, paper masks that shielded their mouths and noses, and rubber gloves.

“We need to wear protective gear until we determine whether or not your son is still contagious,” Dr. Thompson explained when she saw me try to differentiate the resident from the medical student from the nurse.

“Wait, you think he’s contagious? I doubt it - he hasn’t had a fever all day. We’re here for an MRI to find out what’s keeping him from lifting his arms,” I told her. Had they confused him with someone else? Billy finally started feeling better that morning. He couldn’t still be sick.

“Mrs. Sticklen, have you heard about the large number of cases of the Enterovirus that we’ve seen these past few weeks?” Dr. Thompson asked me.

“Yes, I have. He had a cold a couple weeks ago, along with an ear infection. We think the ear infection came back because he didn’t finish his antibiotic prescription. But it looks like the new round of antibiotics is kicking in because his fever has finally subsided. I don’t think he’s contagious or anything.”

Dr. Thompson looked at me for a minute before responding. “Well, we are pretty much doing this with all our patients when they first come in. It’s just a precaution because we’ve seen so much of the virus these past couple weeks. I’m waiting for radiology to let me know when we can get him downstairs for an MRI. At that point we’ll know more about what’s going on with him.” And with that she left to check on another patient on the floor.

The students followed her out of the room, leaving Billy and me with his nurse for the evening. “We’ve had to wear these a lot lately,” the nurse told us as he sat down on a stool and consulted the laptop that lay on a desk in the front corner of the room.

I looked at Billy, who stared back at me. I walked over, bent down and kissed his forehead. “Hey, you’re going to be just fine,” I whispered, “you’re so brave, and I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry about anything. They know what to do to help you here if you need it.”

“Jesus, what the hell do they think is wrong with me, Mom?” he asked.


I thought it was a pretty fair question.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Wheelchair

On September 24, 2014, our youngest son was admitted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City with inflammation along his spinal cord. He spent eight weeks in the hospital, undergoing IV steroid treatment, plasmapheresis, and in-patient occupational and physical therapy. One of 102 kids in the United States diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis, he continues to receive intensive daily therapy to help him regain his strength and, hopefully, get back to where he was before his illness. Our fingers are crossed that this plan will work. For more on Billy's story, please feel free to visit his page.


The wheelchair sat just outside the hospital room, in the adjacent vestibule that visitors passed through on their way in to Room 9. Its bulky figure greeted passers-by with an outstretched handle or misplaced footrest. Impossible to ignore, the chair kept its watch over Billy day and night, reminding him of his weakness and the resulting loss of mobility caused by his recent mystery illness. 

The chair reiterated Billy’s dependence on contraptions and machines to help him perform his day-to-day activities.

We hated it.

In the beginning, Billy utilized one of the hospital’s full reclining wheelchairs. This contraption, which reminded me of a nineteenth century apparatus for the infirm, offered full support of his neck and head, since he was too weak to support them on his own. We placed moldable gel pillows under his arms to keep them from getting caught between his torso and the wheelchair’s armrests. Levers located on the chair’s handles allowed us to lower Billy’s upper body into a fully reclined position in order to keep him from getting pressure sores along his back and bottom. Too large to keep in the hospital room, we parked the chair just outside the inner doorway between the room’s linen closet and visitors’ sink. Every time we kicked an outstretched leg rest or hit a hip on a protruding handle words like BLOODY HELL,TALLY HO OLD FELLA, & SHIT escaped from our lips, demonstrating our exasperation.

Billy told us to give it the finger.


We walked into Room 9, paused to raise our middle finger at the waiting chair on our left, then continued into the hospital room. A nurse knocked on the door, entered the room, and Billy sent him or her back out into the vestibule to flip off the chair. While the physical therapists refrained from condemning the device that allowed Billy to leave his hospital bed for limited periods of time, the psychologist waved her one finger salute toward the chair with gusto. 

Our ritual continued when Billy graduated from the fully supportive, recliner-with-wheels to the less bulky, more traditional wheelchair. Although Billy’s neck had strengthened enough to support his head, he still needed assistance transferring from bed to chair and back. He still was unable to stand up without full support from a trained therapist.

And we continued to hate the wheelchair.

The wheelchair allowed us to take Billy on day outings away from the hospital. It also drew stares of curiosity and pity (mostly pity) from bystanders at the mall. Too weak to propel himself with his arms, Billy depended on one of us to push him from place to place. One Sunday a friend from home visited and accompanied us to the mall for an hour’s respite from Room 9. When the friend returned home with his parents, Billy shed a few tears over his inability to cavort with his peers in the manner he was formerly accustomed to.

We hated the illness.

Over time, Billy grew strong enough to leave the hospital. The day before his discharge he walked using a walker for the first time. His therapist told him he would, indeed, eventually get to return the wheelchair.

All of us breathed a collective sigh of relief.


The wheelchair accompanied us out of the hospital with its new friend, the walker.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pope Francis: One Year Later

One of the great things about the Catholic Church is its deep sense of tradition. One of the worst things about the Catholic Church is its resistance to change.

Pope Francis, who celebrates his one-year anniversary as the Holy See on March 13th, has left many of us Catholics believing that change is not only inevitable but also welcome, even within the Church. 

As many of you know, I often harbor skeptical thoughts about the Church and religion in general.  I imagine others feel the same way about their own spirituality.  Questioning beliefs and the motivation behind religious doctrine doesn’t make you a non-believer, it makes you smart.  When we ask ourselves why we are following a certain belief system, we are more likely to create a stronger commitment to our actions, thereby giving them greater meaning as opposed to simply “going through the motions”.  Personally, I don’t need Church doctrine or Bible verses to motivate me to treat others with compassion.  I help others simply because I genuinely like people. And this is what draws so many of us to Pope Francis: his genuine love for people – not just those who live the way he thinks they should live, but all people.

When Pope Francis was first elected there was, of course, much speculation on what his election meant to the Church.  Many Europeans and Americans enjoy the luxury of concerning themselves with more esoteric questions regarding the direction of the Church as we move further and further into the twenty-first century.  However, while the position the Church takes on issues such as homosexuality and women’s leadership roles under the new pontiff affects the lives of many of us residing in developed nations, the fact remains that a vast majority of our brothers and sisters still struggle to find food and clean water – not to mention health care – for themselves and their families in areas of the world where much of the population identifies itself with the Catholic Church. The challenge for today’s Church, then, is to address modern world problems while still working to ensure basic needs of survival are met for the millions of people throughout the world who, despite the affluence of many of the world’s super powers, still live in extreme poverty.

So far, Pope Francis has demonstrated he is willing to address all of these concerns, and he is doing a fine job of it, too.

The week following his election, I took notice of the new pope’s influence among all Christians, not just Catholics, when a friend of mine who serves as a youth minister at a local Baptist church said to me, “What do you think of your new pope?  My wife absolutely loves him!”

You know when a statement like this was made to me by a Baptist?  How about never?

Suddenly I realized that this new world religious leader represented Christ to more than just the members of the Secret Society, AKA, Catholics.  This pope is shaking things up and uniting people of all faiths (and non-faith) all over the world.  Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus didn’t tell us, “If you do such-and-such, then I will love you.”  Jesus said, “I love you.”  Furthermore, Jesus told us, “Go, and love one another.” Period.  He didn’t say, “Hey, as long as they follow the rules and live the way you tell them to live, and look like you, then it’s OK to sit down and have dinner with them.”  NO! In fact, that’s what the Pharisees did, and, if I recall correctly, Jesus told us, “Live not as the Pharisees do.  Instead, live as your heavenly father says to live, and love one another.”  (Granted, I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point).

And, now, over two thousand years later, we find a pope who tells us:




Our new pope is a man who refused to reside in the Apostolic Palace and also recently said that the Church could tolerate some types of non-marital civil unions in order to guarantee property rights and health care.  He also admonished the Church to apply its teaching against artificial birth control with “much mercy”.  And, while the pope maintains he is “a normal person, not a superman”, during his first year as leader of the Church Pope Francis has brought reform to the Vatican’s financial system, washed the feet of Muslim prisoners (encouraging cooperation and compassion among the world’s religions), proclaimed that women’s roles in the Church need to be increased, and criticized capitalism and trickle-down economic theories.

In short, it’s been a very busy year for the 77 year-old Holy See and one filled with hope and inspiration for Catholics as well as other believers (and even non-believers).  Pope Francis has emerged as a leader who aspires to listen to the people – and inspire them to work toward ending poverty, war, hunger, and hatred throughout the world.

This is a leader even I can follow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

God Is....

Once again I have the honor of guest posting over at Joy in the Journey, a blog about adoption.  Joy in the Journey's mission is simple: to provide support and information for families before, during, and after the adoption process. The blog hopes to unite families by sharing anecdotal stories as well as valuable links for those needing assistance with any aspect of their adoption experience.  It also reminds us that we are never alone on our journey - we not only have a strong, loving, and helpful community but we also have God as the common thread that connects us all.  Today I share a tiny bit of my personal journey involving my belief in God and the hope of Jesus.  I hope you will take a minute and hop over to read my story, leave a comment, and, if so inclined, add Joy in the Journey to your blog list. Thanks, as always, for reading my little musings. I hope they inspire you to go out into your own communities and work to make a difference in the world around you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

25 Fun Facts About Harry Potter

Getting ready for the midnight premier of
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
In honor of October’s National Harry Potter Month (OF COURSE I made that up. Smashing idea, isn’t it?), I thought I’d share with you some Harry Potter Trivia.  Feel free to thank me in the comments section below for advancing your knowledge and love of all things HP….

1.  The name, “Voldemort” comes from the French words meaning, “to fly from death” (and don’t forget that the “t” is silent.  What with it being a French word and all).

2.  “Mundungus” (as in Mundungus Fletcher) is actually an archaic Spanish word for “stinky tobacco”.

3.  As of 2008, Harry Potter books had sold over 400 million copies and translated into 67 languages.

4.  The Sorcerer’s Stone was originally published in the UK as The Philosopher’s Stone.  The U.S. publisher asked J.K. Rowling to change the book’s name to make it “sound more exciting”.

5.  Speaking of J.K. Rowling, her publisher encouraged her to only use her initials instead of her full name so that her books would be appealing to both male and female readers.  Additionally, the “K” refers to her grandmother’s name, “Kathleen”.

6.  The Harry Potter franchise holds the record for most fan fiction parodies – over 500,000.

7.  “Dumbledore” is an early Modern English word for “bumblebee”.

8.  Harry Potter books are the first children’s books included on the New York Times Bestseller list since E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in 1952.

9.  “The Elephant House”, a tea and coffee shop in Edinburgh, is known as the “birthplace of Harry Potter”.  It was there that J.K. Rowling wrote the first two books of the series.

10.  The Latin words, “Expecto Patronum” translate to, “look for the guardian” in English.

11.  Most of the torture scene between Bellatrix and Hermione (Deathly Hallows) was cut from the film in order to keep the movie from receiving an “R” rating.  In fact, the scene was so intense that after they completed the filming, Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix) approached Emma Watson (Hermione) to make sure they were still on good terms.

12.  Daniel Radcliffe, a self-professed prankster, once changed Robbie Coltrane’s (Hagrid) cell phone so that all his messages were in Turkish.

13.  Michael Gambon, the actor who portrayed Dumbledore after Richard Harris’s death, once auditioned for the role of James Bond.

14.  Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) has been nominated for an Oscar six times, and has won twice.  She was also awarded a DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1990.

15.  “I get sent Bibles.  I have a collection of about 20 of them in my room.  People think I need to be guided.”  Emma Watson

16.  The London Sun claims that Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) is related to John Proctor, one of the accused witches in the 17th century Salem Witch Trials.

17.  Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) is the great-granddaughter of the former British Prime Minister, Herbert H. Asquin, and has two children with Tim Burton, her partner since 2001.

18.  After he signed to make the fifth Harry Potter movie, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) was named Britain’s richest teenager.

19.  On his audition tape for the first Harry Potter movie, Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) performed hip-hop lyrics he wrote to promote himself for the role of Ron Weasley.

20.  In 2009 Emma Watson was named “Highest Grossing Actress of the Decade” by Guinness Book of World Records.

21.  Daniel Radcliffe was in a relationship with Rosie Coker (a member of the production crew during three Harry Potter films) for two years.

22.  Radcliffe also voiced the cartoon parody of Edward Cullen in “The Simpsons”.

23.  Voldemort cannot love because he was conceived under the effects of a love potion.

24.  If a muggle came across Hogwarts, it would appear to him as an old building with a sign reading, “Keep out: dangerous building”.

And, finally,

25.  J.K. Rowling is the first person to become a billionaire by writing books.

So, there you have it:  twenty-five fun facts about Harry Potter.  Hopefully this list will help you win first place in your next Trivia Night gathering!

What is your favorite Harry Potter book or movie?  Do you have any other trivia nuggets you’d like to share?  Did I list anything you didn’t already know about the HP franchise?  Leave me a comment in the section below!


*All information was gathered from Tumblr, Wikipedia, IMDb, and the websites Pleated Jeans and Random Facts.  Hopefully they’re at least mostly true….

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ten Things of Thankful: Things That Make Me Go, HMMMMM….

Golf gives me freedom to procrastinate
I woke up early this Saturday morning, sent the men off to a golf tournament, and sat at my desk with the intention of pouring out my creative self onto the computer screen.

Instead I spent three hours perusing Facebook, checking out the latest promotions on zulily.com, and playing myVEGAS slots.  Hey, at least I ate breakfast (twice), made my bed, gave the dogs their much-needed doggy fresh breath treats, and remembered why I enjoy writing for my blog. 

Here on the blog I endeavor to inform you, the reader, about the various acts of kindness performed by individuals and organizations that take their compassion and gratitude for life and share it with others around them.  Since I personally find these groups and their missions inspiring, I share them with others in the hope that even more of us will seize opportunities we see and use our talents to make someone else’s burden a little less cumbersome.

Today I decided that my propensity to procrastinate can sometimes actually be a gift instead of a curse (or sign of laziness).  After spending two hours scrolling through my Facebook news feed I determined that this week’s Ten Things of Thankful post will be a celebration of some of my favorite organizations that work to bring happiness and quality of life to others.  So, without further ado, I bring you Ten Things of Thankful: Groups and Individuals That Make Me Smile (and a whole lot of others, too).

10. State Farm created the “Celebrate My Drive” campaign.  This “contest” encourages drivers to commit to safe driving techniques by giving them a brief quiz to take and then allowing them to vote for their favorite high school.  This year Joplin High School, with the help of local State Farm agent, Kyle Hickam, has enrolled in the competition.  Winners compete for up to $100,000 in grants and a chance to see Kelly Clarkson in concert.  Please consider taking a few minutes to visit the “Celebrate My Drive” site, commit to safe driving practices, and vote for Joplin High.  Voting runs daily now through October 26, 2013.

9.  “This way, towards bravery where youth are empowered.  This way, towards acceptance where humanity is embraced.  This way, towards love where individuality is encouraged.”  This statement adorns the front page of the Born This Way Foundation website.  Born This Way Foundation is an organization developed by Lady Gaga and her mother that works to foster a safer, more accepting society where teens can celebrate their individuality and unique gifts and make a difference in the world.  BTW Foundation not only provides support through an online community, but also connects communities with local organizations and resources that will help them empower their youth to make positive, safe choices.  And, hello?  IT’S LADY GAGA.

8.  KaBOOM is a national non-profit group dedicated to helping increase play among American children.  Founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Darrell Hammond, KaBOOM’s mission is to ensure that every child in America has access to play.  Last August KaBOOM partnered with the Kansas City Chiefs to build a playground for Joplin School’s Beacon School, an alternative school that works with special needs, behaviorally disordered, and severely autistic children.  And if the work KaBOOM performs isn’t enough to get you revved up about this organization, take a minute to read Mr. Hammond’s personal story on their website.  It, too, will remind you that anything is possible once you put your mind to it.

7.  Speaking of kids, play, and schools, Art Feeds has partnered with students at Joplin High to promote the student-initiative, “Color Estes” project.  Following the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Art Feeds recognized the healing impact of art and creativity in helping children cope with the loss and confusion they faced in the aftermath of the deadliest storm ever recorded.  Now, students from Joplin wish to help share this powerful form of therapy with students of Estes Park Elementary in Colorado after September flooding destroyed vast areas of their city.  The organization is seeking donations to help provide art packs to over 500 students as well as transportation to Colorado so they can distribute the packs to kids and help provide instruction to local volunteers.  If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to check out their site, make a donation, and then share their mission with your friends.

6.  Bright Futures USA is a national non-profit headquartered here in Joplin that holds another special place in my heart.  The mission of Bright Futures is to help meet kids’ basic needs in order that they can attend school and focus on learning.  Bright Futures partners individuals, businesses, and faith-based organizations with community schools in an effort to combine resources to help give kids the tools they need to succeed in school.  And when kids succeed in school, we all succeed.

5.  No list of do-good organizations would be complete without a shout-out to TOMS.  Come on, you know about their one-for-one initiative, right? Go, visit their website.  Buy cool shoes or fun sunglasses.  Give someone else a pair of shoes or the gift of sight without leaving your home (or changing out of your pajamas.  Don’t judge.)

Art, Joplin, and One-for-One. A pretty good combo...

4.  Last year the coolpeeps at Art Feeds were named finalists for VH1’s annual Do Something awards show.  During the frenetic voting process, another group, Together We Rise, captured my attention – and heart.  TWR works to help improve the lives of children living in foster care by providing them with sports equipment, bicycles, and other basic necessities in an effort to create a sense of normalcy in an otherwise often chaotic life.  The most important of these to me?  Giving kids suitcases so they don’t have to carry their belongings from place to place in a trash bag.

3.  Are you still skeptical about the notion that one person can make a difference?  Then clearly you didn’t watch CBS’s Evening News this past week when they aired a piece about Dan’s Coffee Run.  Watch the following video about a Michigan man who puts a smile on cancer patients’ faces each week when he arrives at the Michigan Cancer Center loaded up with specialty coffee drinks.  And then use your own procrastination powers to head over to his Facebook page and learn about more ways you can help him continue his mission of spreading kindness and hope to others.


2.  I often tell people I’m on the school board for all the perks.  Sometimes these “perks” come in the form of access to spirit gear such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, or pens.  Most of the time, though, the “perks” I enjoy are much more significant:  invitations to events in our school district such as the annual Academic All Stars celebration or graduation.  This past week I attended a special awards assembly hosted by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s deputy superintendent, Ron Lankford.  The special guest of this assembly, Lowell Milken of the Milken Family Foundation, traveled to Joplin from California to name Missouri’s sole 2013 Milken Educator Award winner: Joplin High Social Studies teacher, Tobin Schultz.  It was truly an exciting moment to witness, first-hand, the announcement of such a prestigious award to a very deserving teacher and mentor.  I have two teachers who inspired me in high school and beyond: my math teacher, Mr. Padgett, and my English teacher, Mrs. Proctor.  Who inspired you to pursue your life goals?

1.  And, finally, I want to introduce you to the organization that inspired me to write this post in the first place.  The Do It ForThe Love Foundation was developed by Michael Franti and his partner, Sara Agah after they met Steve and Hope Dezember prior to Michael’s April 2013 performance at the Wanee festival in Florida.  “Do It For The Love is a wish-granting organization gifting people who are living with advanced stages of life threatening illnesses live concert experiences and meet-and-greets with their favorite artists.”  Grab a couple tissues and watch the following video.  You won’t regret it.

What groups or individuals inspire you to use your talents and gifts to help make the world around you a better place?  Be sure to share in the comments section below - there's always room for more to celebrate!