Back in November I mentioned that I was working with the Whole Hearts Foundation. Since then, my involvement has greatly increased and my role has changed. I'm still answering emails that come into the foundation, but I'm not in charge of the facebook page anymore...praise the Lord! I loved communicating and connecting with the families on facebook, but I'm not a marketing or social media expert. I am so grateful that Whole Hearts was able to find someone who is doing such a great job in that capacity. I think the new person has updated more in the past 2 weeks than I did the entire time I was in charge of it.
I addition to my other roles, I have also been asked to begin working on developing a plan for local support through the foundation. This is a dream come true for me because I will have the opportunity to meet CHD families, provide support, connect them with other families, and assist in the development of new CHD support groups, like our own. I will be spending a great deal of my spare time working on this endeavour and I pray that God will bless my efforts and Whole Hearts will touch numerous lives. I am very thankful that Matt and the new President and VP of Whole Hearts are giving me this opportunity.
I also had the chance to travel to Orlando, FL to be a part of the first official Whole Hearts Foundation event this week. In hopes that we can begin to assist families and hospitals in the fight against CHDs, we have started a campaign to raise funds and awareness in several cities around the country. Each of our events correspond to the location of one of Matt's tour stops on the Winter Jam Tour with his band, Sanctus Real (http://www.jamtour.com/). Our first event was a luncheon in Orlando, which benefited the heart patients of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Before I left for Orlando, I met with the administration of Medical City Children's Hospital (our hospital) to discuss a partnership with them for the Whole Hearts Dallas event. I was really nervous about the meeting, even though I knew everyone at the meeting. It went really well and we hope to hear something from them this week about the event.
I left Dallas at 7pm on Wednesday night and arrived in Orlando at about 11:45pm (eastern time). I went right to bed, after getting to the hotel, because I had to be up at 5:15am. I met Matt and his wife, Sarah, in the lobby at 6:15am and we left for our first stop of the day, a radio interview. It was really great to finally meet Sarah, we've known Matt for almost 2 years and have talked to Sarah through email, but I hadn't had the opportunity to meet her yet. Matt did a radio interview with Z 88.3, the largest Christian radio station in Orlando at 7am, then we left for the hotel, where the luncheon would be held.
|Matt doing his sound check|
The hotel was something else! It was a one-of-a-kind! The owner built the hotel just to have a place to put all of the artwork that he had collected over the years. It looked like the Louvre! After arriving at the hotel, we had breakfast and Matt did another radio interview over the phone. Next we went upstairs so that we could see where the luncheon would take place and for Matt to do a sound check. We were all so surprised and impressed with how everything looked for the luncheon. We have been working on building Whole Hearts for a while and it just hit us that it was all becoming a reality. I looked at Matt and said, "It's real dude!" He responded with, "I know, I can't believe it!"
|Sarah, Matt, Dr. Nykanen, & Me touring the hospital|
From the hotel, we traveled a few miles down the road to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. We had a tour scheduled of the hospital and the Cardiovascular ICU. The hospital was really nice and everything seemed to be enhanced with a little bit of the Disney touch. The lobby was decorated by Disney and I am sure that the kids love it! I learned a lot during our tour and I picked up some ideas that I will be bringing back to our hospital. One of the coolest things that we saw was the Music Therapy room. Joey Fatone, from NSYNC, donated the money for the hospital to have the music therapy room and a full-time music therapist. Patients in the hospital can go to the room and play guitars and drums, they can sing and record songs, and they can even make a music video. The therapist can also take instruments to the rooms for the kids to play there.
|Music Therapy room at the hospital|
After the tour, we had to rush back over to the hotel for the lunch and fundraiser event. Andrea, the VP of Whole Hearts welcomed everyone to the event and shared a little about Whole Hearts. Then the Chief Cardiologist spoke about the hospital and about CHDs. Next, Matt shared about the creation of Whole Hearts and then he played "All of Me" and "Lead Me". Last, the president of the hospital shared about needs that the hospital has and urged the business people in attendance to support Whole Hearts and the hospital. I was amazed that the event went so well and that we had such a great turn-out, especially since Andrea only had 3 weeks to plan and put it together.
|Matt, Sarah, & Me at the Whole Hearts luncheon|
|Matt performing at the event|
By this point in the day, it was only 2pm, but it felt like we had already done enough for a whole day, after all, we had been up since 5:15. When the event was finished, I had to say my goodbyes, because I had to go to the airport to come home. Matt & Sarah continued on to the University of Central Florida arena for the Winter Jam concert. I left Orlando at 4:30pm and arrived back in Dallas at 7:45pm. It was surely a whirlwind trip, I was only gone for about 24 hours, but I did so much in that time!
It is so surreal to think that all of the work is paying off for the foundation. God gave Matt & Sarah the idea and the platform to pull this off, then he put Chris & Andrea in the leadership positions for the foundation, now he is making everything come together at just the right time for us to be successful.
I had so much fun on this trip and I learned even more, but I was definitely glad to be home and see Dena & Tucker. I don't know if there will be more of these trips for me in the future, but I sure hope there are!
If you haven't already done so, please go to the Whole Hearts Foundation facebook page and "like" it, http://www.facebook.com/WholeHearts. Also, check out the brand new Whole Hearts website. If you click on each of the links and stay on the main page long enough, you might see someone you know: http://www.wholehearts.org/!
Thanks for reading about my journey! I hope that you will join me in praying for the future success of the Whole Hearts Foundation. Our success will mean that hundreds of kids and their families will be blessed, supported, and healed.