Vinny DiGerolamo's Journal
Valentines and Anniversaries
Written Feb 14, 2014 12:43am
*** new pictures have been added from the past and present. Please look at the above "photo" link to see them.
This pink background, ironically was our very first background Vinny choose when we started his caring bridge 6 years ago. It was right after Valentines Day, and pink was his favorite color.
Six years ago, on February 15th, Vinny had his very first MRI that showed a 7 cm mass in his nasal passages, spreading from the base of the tongue, behind the nose, the eye, and into the Left Temporal Lobe of his brain. We heard the words "We found a mass" and our world changed from that point on forever. When the radiology reports came back as Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma with anaplastic cells on top, we were told that if Vinny fights the cancer, he would most probably relapse again, and was given a 50% chance of living only 5 more years.
A few days before this diagnosis, while we waited to see what was wrong with our son, our Reverend Ellis came to make a house call to pray for the doctors to find answers, whatever they may be. It was a warm February night and was raining, with no snow in the forecast. Vinny kept giggling and saying it was going to snow. We kept saying it was not. He would laugh and say "YES! It is!!" When we opened the door to let Reverend Ellis out, snow was falling all over the yard… the mailbox, Ellis's hair and camel-colored coat. It was the first prediction of many that Vinny would make, and the first impact that snow would have on us.
Last year, while on Hospice, Vinny wanted snow so badly that friends were bringing fake snow or real snow from the mountains just so he could have one more snow before he died. Then it snowed… a lot.. and kept on snowing. We had snow and more snow, and Blue Lightening Snow. Lola came over for multiple date nights, including Valentine's Day, when Vinny gave her a dozen roses, and again confessed his true love for her. It started snowing and Desi and Lola were able to play in the snow and bring snowballs to Vinny. Charlie was able to lift Vinny, gently for a few minutes so he could see the snow outside. Our friends from NJ also came to visit when it snowed again.
Now tomorrow is Valentines Day, one year later… and it has been snowing here for the past 2 days… 9 inches!! The most snow that NC has seen in the past 17 years (?). A few pictures were added also of Desi jumping in the snow on her trampoline. In one of the pictures, you can see the Vinny bench… and if you look carefully you can notice that a "Vinny" bird also sent some bird poop, that not even the snow could wash off!! The day before the snow, Charlie fixed our leaning mailbox. He straightened it, he freshly painted it black, and then cemented the base in concrete.. and in the concrete he placed Vinny's name in Legos. The concrete had not even dried before the Vinny bird pooped on the "letter i " in Vinny. See pictures. They are signs to us.. poop and snow telling us that Vinny is still here… and he is okay in Heaven.
He has been also sending me several signs in the number "44" signs. Ironically, a few days before I started getting number 44 signs, which is too much to get into right now, I had re-read some of my old caring bridge posts to catch up on my writing. I came across this journal about his "44" kick:
Journal: January 21st, 2009
Vinny (age 5 yrs, b-day Oct. 9, 2003) then decided that he wanted to bake a cake! He wanted to make his own "baby" cake, decided he wanted to be 44 yrs old, invite 44 friends, and have 44 presents. Well, we made the 44th b-day cake and are waiting for the others.... Vinny also said he wanted to have a costume party and be Luke Skywalker
A few days later I had written about the "44 reasons why I love you" game that we made up and still play every year on Valentines Day.
journal: Jan. 29, 2009
Last night Vinny was falling asleep in my arms on the couch. He looked so peaceful and just plain cute. I said "Vinny, what are 3 reasons why I love you." He said "Cuz you love me, cuz I am cute, cuz you love me." Then he looked at me, smiled, and whispered "Mama, what are 44 reasonswhy you love me?" He is still on the 44 kick from the fake 44th b-day party and cake we made a few days ago..... So I did. I named 44 reasons why I love him... and it struck something in me. We often say "I love you" but we don't say why and we often don't tell someone that we even do, and sometimes you lose the chance before the words are even said. So I went to Star Bucks today with my greatest friend, Katy, and I made her play my game. I told her to list 44 reasons why she loves me. It turned into a hysterical game of her naming 56 reasons in 15 minutes, why she loves me and me naming 51 for her... and counting. I have never laughed so hard, and I remembered what true friends really are. They play stupid games with you that you make up and they tell you every reason why you are loved. (Even if they are dumb, Katy.) So I challenge each of you to hug your spouse, your child or best friend and tell them those 44 reasons….
That was 5 years ago, and I challenged all of our caring bridge readers and friends to tell their loved ones 44 reasons why they are loved. That turned into a hysterical viral game on FB and in our guestbook with people telling us hundreds of reasons why they loved me, Vinny, Desi and Charlie. We try to play it every year now, and I challenge you all again to think of 44 reasons why you love the ones you do.
Tomorrow will be our 1st Valentines' Day without Vinny. The next day will be the 6th year anniversary of him being originally diagnosed on the 15th. And of course, on Tuesday, the 18th it will be the 1st year Anniversary of him earning his wings and flying to Heaven. He lived through Valentines Day for Lola and us, he made it those 5 years from diagnosis, and he died peacefully in his favorite Lego Room with the family he loved so much all at home together. Charlie took the day off from work that day, knowing that it would be one of our hardest days. Desiree wants to go to school that day, but says she will not be able to take tests or keep her mind focused. After school, we are all going with Lola's family to see the new LEGO Movie in his Memory that just came out. He had wanted to see it.
I do not have to repeat how hard this year has been for us, how it just feels like yesterday, how we still cry and wish we could do anything to have him back again. At the same time, we feel him. I felt him very, very strongly the other day. I felt he was on his knees playing Legos in the old Lego room which is now Desi's room. I felt him, and have been "okay" since then.
We are focused now on Desiree and her school work and some issues. I know that she is still having a hard time focusing and will often ask me what would have happened if she was the one who found Vinny dead.. what would have been different if we had all been in the room as he was passing. We talk gently about her questions, and she is still in counseling, but only she knows that sibling pain in her little heart.
She is also growing up so quickly. Last week we had her "rising 9th grade" night at her new High School. She is very excited to be going to a new school, to High School and the possibility of joining several clubs and joining Cross Country Track and Swim Team. She is looking forward to stopping French and taking Latin instead (her choice). I took 4 years in High School as well as Spanish… She will be great at it, and has the possibility of traveling to Greece and Rome in 2017 if she sticks with it. She is excited to be growing up, making new friends, and possibly starting Drivers Ed (not going to happen yet though). I can not believe in a blink of my eye, I suddenly have a child in Heaven, and another moving on to High School. On Feb. 20th it will be the 15th year Anniversary of meeting Charlie in Las Vegas for the first time ever… and in my mind I am still that young 20-something girl who intended to have a girl night in Vegas, and ran into a future husband (who by the way told me his name was Tony… like Tony Danza… not realizing that he would be confessing his name was REALLY Charlie 20 minutes later when he started having a true personal interest in his future wife….) Back then we had no clue we would marry… no clue we would have two children thrown into a medical world that even Doctors don't fully understand.
We have had a full life with true love and true friends and the best two children we could have ever asked for. We have also had the best support system during our craziness: YOU.
We are also so grateful and blessed that we have been able to give back to the children still battling cancer, and sharing the path of several new families who are just starting out on their journey. We are grateful that Vinny, even though he did not turn out to be an Earthly Cancer Survivor again, is still the inspiration to so many people. I love the e-mails and cards and stories that so many people, even strangers have shared. I gave a speech last week at the Harley Davidson HOG Meeting about our foundation and our upcoming Chili Cook-off and upcoming Bike Run. And it was amazing that so many people there had "Vinny" stories of their own. One was the husband of one of Vinny's teachers' assistants… one friend there told me that each time we help a child with cancer, it is Vinny fulfilling his legacy. A few days later, I went to the hospital to visit Desi's friend, Savanna, and ran into two other families that we bonded with. One is a new little 2 year old newly diagnosed. The other is Brandon, who was put on Hospice the very next day at the Hospice Home… a boy we will be Honoring and financially helping with our next Loop Night on Feb. 27th. The whole community is invited.
Also at the hospital, I met a very special volunteer who wanted to give me a hug. I had not met her yet, but she knew me, and she knew Vinny… she has been reading our caring bridge for years through our mutual friend Holly Adams whose son Benjamin is our survivor. She told me how much Vinny had touched her life and how much she loves still coming to this page to see his pictures. It was beyond touching. Thank you so much for giving me such a special message!
And in his memory, we continue helping and loving and reaching more kids. We have 5 families now from 3 different hospitals who are lined up to go to our Safe Haven Beach condo this summer!!! With you help and the donations directed towards Safe Haven, you have made this possible to send them on a wish-like trip to the beach!
Last week also I was asked to talk on 98.7 Simon radio about our foundation, Vinny and upcoming events. I hope to have a downloadable link on here very soon, when I hear from them. I was also tearfully surprised to see that Vinny's Make-a-Wish Grantor from when he was 4 years ago was the Secretary there!!! It was GREAT to see you Connie!! Joe and Connie were the best Grantors ever!
Before announcing our upcoming Foundation events, Desiree is involved also in our Church's Annual PINE NEEDLE SALE! Desi is taking 2 trips this summer with her youth group. One is in June to Washington, DC to help feed the homeless in the Soup Kitchens. The 2nd is Wilderness Trail in August. The Pine Needle Sale will help Desi and her youth group to be able to afford these trips. I am actually in charge of the phone lines this month for pre-orders!! My way of helping the youth and the church we love so much.
Pine Needle Bales are $4.50 for pick up yourself
$5.50 per bale delivered in March
$6.50 per bale to be delivered and spread in March by the youth.. (within 15 mile radius from our Church in Kernersville). And LANDSCAPERS who order over 200+ bales the cost is $4. If you would like to order and have Desi be recognized as the youth sales person, please e-mail me at email@example.com. If you have another youth member who you would like recognized or want it to be credited to the youth in general, you can call our google number and pre-order at 336-448-3794.
We do have several upcoming events, that are listed on our www.kidsofchildhoodcancer.org website and also on our FB page: Kids of Childhood Cancer
But to re-cap them and SAVE the dates:
Right now, there is an on-going on-line fundraiser that ANY of you can order from: Jennifer has graciously offered her proceeds from her Pampered Chef sales to our foundation through Feb. 26th. Order here: Visit the following link: http://new.pamperedchef.com/pws/jenniferscooking/guest-landing/8858994392219 to place an order online. Look for Kids of Childhood Cancer as host.
On February 22nd we are having our 3rd Annual Chili 4 our Kids Cook-off!! All information is on our websites, and also our the Chili Cook-off page: www.chili4ourkids.org at SMOKIN HARLEY DAVIDSON!!!
On Feb. 27th we are having a "In Honor of Brandon Ingram" Fundraiser night for Brandon (Brandon's Warriors on FB) and all of our proceeds and donations from Loop Night will be given to his family to help with the financial burden of the cancer world. Feb. 27th, 5-9 PM at the Kernersville location (1030 S. Main Street in K-ville).
on March 1st is our 3rd Annual Glory Street Quartet Concert at 7 PM at Sedge Garden UMC. 794 Sedge Garden Rd in Kernersville. This concert starring Glory Street Quartet and Squire Parsons will be FREE admission with a Love Offering supporting our Kids.
April 12th is our SPAGHETTI DINNER at Sedge Garden UMC again! We will have a Silent Auction, and will have Jerry Hamilton and Charlie cooking!! We are looking for help and Volunteers!! Please e-mail me if you are able to volunteer or have questions!
4th Thursday of each month is the Loop Night.
Our 4th Annual Walk 4 our Kids will be on May 10th!!! Volunteers are needed and a meeting will be announced soon! To sign up on your own team donate, sponsor or JOIN our team visit: www.walk4ourkids.org
Our 3rd Annual Bike Run is on June 7th. www.ride4ourkids.org
Thank you all again for your love and support. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!
Florida for Vinny
Written Jan 26, 2014 12:41amIt has been a while since I posted. We have just passed the 11 month mark of Vinny earning his wings. We can not believe it has already been 11 months when it still feels like yesterday at times. Next month is full of Anniversaries and special dates, and will be very hard, but not without great memories of a wonderful life with Vinny that we were blessed to have for 9 years. We are moving towards "healing" although it is gradual. Our family has a lot of healing to do together.
We just got back from a wonderful trip to Florida where we celebrated Vinny's life on his 11 month anniversary of passing, with one of his favorite families: the Feulners who have gone with us to Disney when Vinny was alive for the past two years. Vinny loved them all… we love them all like family and the sons (Britt and Dillon) were Vinny's "brothers". And the girls sister Shannon and Dillon's girlfriend, Shannon, were "the girls" with Desi. Before Vinny passed away, he helped us to plan his celebration of life, his funeral, talked about signs as you know, and mentioned some places he would like us to "take him" when he was in Heaven to celebrate his life. A ceremony in Florida near Disney with the Feulners was on Vinny's "bucket list". So we planned the trip surrounding his 11 month anniversary and Martin Luther King Weekend.
It was a beautiful, amazing and bittersweet trip. Charlie, Desi and I stayed at the Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort, where we have stayed for the last 2 years. It was Vinny's favorite resort, his favorite pirate pool, his favorite staff in the world. You might remember recently that the General Manager, Jorg, asked if he could share Vinny's story at the GM Convention for Starwood Properties. The Fun Team at the resort had a Relay for Life Team in his Memory a few months ago, and the staff there never forgot his 9th birthday celebration, his passion for life, and his love of the resort. Thank you also to Jill Walden, Mike R., and Kate N. for helping us build these memories. So we went back and had a gorgeous stay at a 2 bedroom condo there overlooking the pool. The Feulners stayed at the Grand Floridian where we always held the Light Saber Fights on the beach and created Star Wars Episodes that the dad filmed and made into movies for Vinny. When Vinny was dying, I said we would go and make our "Final Episode". Vinny replied "It not the final episode. We only got 3, and there are more than 7." Yes, he is right. Who is to say when it will be the "final" one.
One of the days we all went to Disney and rode his favorite rides and more. He had a love and passion for the big roller coasters, especially the Grizzly Mountain one.. can't remember the name right now. Vinny with his bald head and Make A Wish shirt, used to be able to ride the rides over and over again 6 times in a row with no waiting in line… this time we waited in line and called Vinny our "ultimate fast pass" that we missed so much. When we rode the Mountain roller coaster this time, it was at night and as soon as we got to the highest peak, right before his favorite drop, the fire works Grand Finale blast exploded directly ahead of us and we felt our boy. He was saying he was with us. We also had dinner at the Grand Floridian.
On Vinny's 11th month anniversary (18th), Claire's parents treated us to a day at Epcot. We are forever grateful. It was an amazing park, and one we had never been to because Vinny had been too little or too young for some of it. It is more for older kids and adults. It was wonderful for Desi and the teens as well because they could finally go on adult rides and it was about DESI this time and what DESI wanted to do.
That evening, after the park, we had a celebration on the Grand Floridian beach. We took turns Light Saber Fighting Dillon, who was Vinny's "BFF" and Light Saber Master Fighter. We also each held a sprinkling of Vinny's ashes and let him go, so he will forever be on his favorite parts of Florida. Some pictures were too large to post on caring bridge, but we made our Shutterfly album where you can view some of the pictures: https://vinnyandfamily.shutterfly.com/pictures/2467 While we were there, on the beach in Florida, it started snowing back at home in Kernersville. Vinny made it snow on his day!!! Thank you to all the friends who texted and sent us pictures in Memory of Vinny!! Snow and bird poop seems to remind us all of Vinny!! Who would ever guess?? We would like to say a very special THANK YOU to the Feulners and Claire's Mom and Dad for the very special weekend. We love you all so much and look forward to the next time we see you. Thank you for being in our lives. You always made Vinny and Desi both feel so special and we have the most wonderful memories of all the times we spent together.
The Feulners left the next day, while our family stayed a few more days. On Sunday we went to Downtown Disney to visit the LEGO store. We planned to go to the LEGO store and Rainforest Cafe. On the way to Downtown Disney, it started to rain but quickly stopped, leaving in it's wake a beautiful RAINBOW. The first rainbow that I have seen in person since Vinny passed. Remember one of his signs that he promised to come back to show me was a rainbow!!! We then saw a Mommy deer and 2 baby deer eating grass on the side of the road. We got lost and had to pass those deer 3 times! We laughed and said it was VINNY pranking us!! We each had a little box to fill from Christmas full of as many bricks as we could. I also bought 2 new small boxes from the new LEGO Movie that comes out the day before his 1st year anniversary of earning his wings.
So we did fill the Lego boxes which we all made Legos out of back at the hotel. Desi made her first LEGO all by herself (the Koala in the pictures) and Charlie built his LEGO into a Lego cross, which he just also got Tattoo #2 also tattooed on his chest… A LEGO Cross that has a stairway to Heaven… just for Vinny. Chad at Black Clover Tattoos (his own shop owned with his friend James) drew, created and did the tattoo. (also shown in pool picture above). Chad is amazing and also a sponsor for our upcoming 5K : www.blackclovertattoos.com
We ate at Rainforest Cafe, and I got a text from Lola's Mom saying the LEGO movie was coming out on February 17th!! So we have decided that our family and Lola's family will go to see the LEGO movie together on Feb. 18th - the 1st year anniversary. It will give us something to look forward to, something to do together in his memory on his day. On Martin Luther King day, we spent the day at the pirate pool. We lay there and watched the other children play. Desi spent some time alone, as a teenager, in the new gym there. She loves the gym now. Charlie and I ended up talking to a very insightful gypsy woman with 29 grandkids…several who were there. She was quite a character and when Charlie stepped away, she bent over to me and said "I know you are compassionate, I see in your eyes how nice you are, and you are the strong one." I try to be, to hold us all together. We are doing the best we can, but we really miss our boy.
We drove all the way home (10 1/2 hours) on Tuesday. The day before when we were at the pool, I got a tiny sunburn, drinking pina coladas in the beautiful Florida weather… and we came back to more SNOW!!! School the next day was a 2 hour delay due to the freezing weather!
Now it is back to reality, school, work… Charlie and I start more grief counseling together on Monday which will be a wonderful step in the healing process. Things have also been very busy (in a great way) for our foundation. I am still catching up, planning events and moving forward.
We are sticking to our usual major events this year, and focusing on sending more of our kids to our Safe Haven Beach Condo. We have 6 families lined up so far, 3 in the summer… and have expanded also to send children from 2 other NC hospitals to the condo, while still helping the families at Brenner's financially. We have been "adopted" this year by MA Cares (Market America) who is helping to spread the word and help at our big events. We have also reached out to a school in Guilford County who has also been helping collect toys and announcing our Chili Cook-off! We want to focus this year on expanding to new supporters, and helping more children, and sending more families on our Safe Haven Beach trip. It makes a HUGE Difference.
This past week Brendi Bluitt, a teen from our ward, had her final treatment for her cancer!!! She is done!!! She decided to give back to our foundation by throwing an End of Chemo party and raising money for our foundation!! Thank you Carla and Brendi for raising $2500!!! All of the money goes towards sending the families down to the beach!!
Desiree's friend, Savanna Williams from Southeast Middle School was diagnosed with T-Cell ALL right before Christmas. Savanna's brother fought ALL 5 years ago when Vinny was still fighting. It is the 2nd child in the family with cancer, and totally unrelated. We decided to make this past Thursday's Loop Night all about Savanna and donated all proceeds to her family to help her financially. It was the busiest night we have had since Vinny's final farewell party there, and amazingly many customers and friends pitched in to help our foundation table and the bussing of the tables go smoothly. It was amazing community support and the Williams were humbled at the outpouring of love and support. THANK YOU ALL so much!!! We raised $1,035.12 for the family! We could not have done it without you.
I have final finished updating our upcoming events, and will post them on the calendar part of our website www.kidsofchildhoodcancer.org tomorrow. Several are already listed on our FB Kids of Childhood Cancer page.
To save the dates though:
FEB. 22nd is our 3rd Annual CHILI 4 OUR KIDS COOK-OFF!! This year we will have 3 different winners for the BEST CHILI in the Triad!!
This year we are having TEAMS. Any individual, restaurant or school in the Triad can sign up as a TEAM. It is $20 to register per team on-line, $25 the day of. Tasters and Judges who come to EAT will cost $5 only!!
1st Place wins $100 and a trophy
2nd place wins $50 and a trophy
3rd Place wins $25 and a Trophy
ALSO the TEAM who raises the MOST MONEY on-line and at the event will be awarded a plaque and winner of "Most Money Raised!"
Location: Smokin Harley Davidson in Winston-Salem.
Details listed on the sign up link: www.chili4ourkids.kintera.org and also: https://www.facebook.com/events/577166962377488/
Right now we have a lot of EATERS but not enough COOKS!!! If any of you have any good (or bad) chili recipes, please come out to join us and cook for a chance to win!!
On March 1st, we will have our 3rd Annual GLORY STREET QUARTET concert at our Church: Sedge Garden United Methodist Church. Most of you remember that Glory Street Quartet sang last year at Vinny's Celebration of Life with Bowzer on March 2nd, and also held a benefit concert that night for the foundation. This year they will have a special GUEST STAR: Squire Parsons (currently battling leukemia) who has written over 400 songs of Christian Faith including: "Sweet Beulah Land", and "Look for me at Jesus' feet. It will be held at 7 PM at 794 Sedge Garden Rd in Kernersville. The concert is free, and will hold a Love Offering that night for our foundation. I humbly thank the Glory Street Quartet and SGUMC for choosing us again as your charity. Please come join us for this celebration!!! Whenever Vinny heard their songs in Church, he would jump up and clap and dance in the balcony!!!
April 12th will be our Spaghetti Dinner also at SGUMC. 5-8 PM with a very special Silent Auction. Details to be announced soon!! Jerry Hamilton and Charlie DiGerolamo will be cooking again!! We are looking for any volunteers and anyone also who would like to Donate or solicit Silent Auction Items, which will be tax-deductible. PLEASE come out to eat or help in any way you can!!
Saturday May 10th will be our 4th ANNUAL WALK 4 OUR KIDS 5K!!! We will honor all warriors, survivors and mothers again who have had children battle cancer or earn their wings. We will have our special balloon release for our Angels… we will have Shonna for our Zumba instructor, and many of our traditional traditions!! Last year we raised $47,000 to pay off our Loan for our Beach Condo!! We still have HOA fees, electric bills, repairs and more costing us an average of $13,000 per year, plus the cost of sending our families down. All proceeds will go to helping the families financially, stocking our ToyBox in clinic and sending more families to the condo!!! Come celebrate with us, and honor the childhood cancer warriors who battle so hard and struggle, only wanting the chance to GROW UP like the healthiest child or teen.
Please form a team, join a team, SPONSOR OR DONATE: www.walk4ourkids.org For the Vinny fans, please join or donate to Team Vinny!!
And finally, our 3rd Annual Bike Ride 4 Our Kids is scheduled for June 7th!! Our website is in the process of the making: coming soon www.ride4ourkids.org 2014!!!
THANK YOU ALL WHO ARE STILL READING, STILL WRITING, STILL E-MAILING, STILL CALLING, still supporting. We appreciate you all so much. You are still my strongest support. Thank you also for supporting us and praying for the children still fighting. Please keep Savanna Williams FB page: Savannawms , Justin Elam www.caringbridge.org/visit/justinelam , Sofie Zuluaga www.caringbridge.org/visit/sofiezuluaga, Baby King FB page: "Followiing the King", Steve Schmidley from WFU, and Carol DeBusk form our Church, Shera Cates www.caringbridge.org/visit/sheracates and Tim Belcher www.caringbridge.org/visit/timbelcher in your prayers. There are so many more… adults and children we love who are suffering right now. We still hold HOPE for our one-day cure for all cancers.
Written Jan 1, 2014 12:48am
"For the families like us who have lost a loved one this year, 2013 was a very hard year. We know it will still be very difficult bringing in 2014 without our dear Vinny, as we behold the memory of him loving his life here on earth. Vinny, as hard as his treatments were, always made the very best of his life. Vinny enjoyed all holidays and would make it a point to stay up and welcome the New Year each and every year, even while on Hospice. Vinny's memory will live on helping us get through. February 18th, 2014 will be the one year anniversary since Vinny earned his wings. Fly High my son, with all our loved ones making it a point to bring us happiness and comfort as we enter a new year." - Charlie DiGerolamo
We made it through Christmas. We woke up crying, missing Vinny… but brushed ourselves off and put on a smile for Desiree. Santa brought Desi at big trampoline for Christmas… and brought Vinny the big Lego Batman Asylum Set that he always wanted when he were alive. I suspect that I will be the one building it!! I had also honored him by building the Winter Village and Carousel that I will soon post a picture of! It is beautiful! Christmas was a very hard day to get through, our first without our little boy, but we did it.
Tonight was New Year's Eve. Desi has a very good friend, Sarah, spending the night and it was so good to hear her giggling again. They jumped on the trampoline, walked to the duck pond, ate pizza, and brought in the New Year. Charlie was in bed early (not a night person like me) and I caught up on paperwork and missed the ball dropping by seconds… but when I re-wound the TV and watched it minutes later, I cried alone… missing Vinny.
2013 was a horrible year because Vinny earned his wings in February… but at the same time, we had him for 2 of the months during the year, and we made so many memories… So even though we are looking forward to 2013 being over, we still do not know how to face the New Year without him… still finding our way in this "New Normal".
Last year we did not think he would live to see the New Year. But a few days before the New Year, Nurse Marcia came to make a home visit and said to us "Vinny is going to make it through the New Year and longer…." And he did. And last New Year's eve he asked me if he could stay up until Midnight to see the New Year in, as if he and I did not have a daily occurrence of going to bed after midnight anyway.
Vinny's death made it to the top "2013 Highlights of the Year" in the Kernersville Newspaper yesterday. It was a surprise to us when I looked through the paper and saw Vinny's picture!! But it was a great surprise! Thank you to K-ville News and Wendy!! It is always a fear after the loss of your child that they will be forgotten one day, and it was very nice to see that Kernersville is still remembering! I know and have to remember that he really and truly did inspire and touch people's lives. We are so afraid of people forgetting or getting tired of hearing his name.. when his loss will always be forefront in our own hearts.
At Church on Sunday, Preacher Dave gave a sermon on Angels… Angels we have in Heaven, and Angels we have on earth. We cried, of course, knowing our own Angel is in Heaven.. I cried harder when a supporter at Church approached me after the service and said I was an Angel on earth. Thank you so much for the reminder that we are truly making a difference, continuing Vinny's legacy by helping others, and by my writing.
What is next for us? We plan to start "family" counseling. I want to help Desi boost her grades and self-confidence. She wants to start Karate at Core Fitness. And we hope to branch out and expand in 2014 with the foundation and help MORE kids. We have a lot of newbies, and several have been referred to us in the past few weeks. We hope to make a bigger difference and focus more on the kids who are battling now, rather than being sucked behind in our own grief. I am starting school again next week for the Non-profit Leadership and Management Degree…. and I have finally started my book. I have had a "offer" for when I am ready… and I finally begun.
We will also focus on the bigger events this year for our foundation. We are already knee-deep in planning. We have been selected as one of three 2014 Charities by Market America this year, and they are getting involved with us this year!! Ed Raliski and I have a "show" at Market America next Wednesday to display upcoming events!!
The highlighted events are:
*first, we have only twenty-seven 2014 Calendars left!! You can order here: http://kids-of-childhood-cancer.myshopify.com/collections/all
They are $15 each. We also have the mini pocket calendars coming soon as well. We now have LONG-sleeved shirts in Black or white for Men, and Black, white or PURPLE for ladies!
Our biggest upcoming event is our 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off at Smokin Harley Davidson in Winston-Salem on FEBRUARY 22nd!! Times and details will be posted soon. The difference between the past years and this year is that RESTAURANTS are now invited to participate! We will have one category for individuals (like Charlie, Lola, and all the others who participated last year), we hope to have one category for schools, and a 3rd category for restaurants and Judges who will vote for the "Best Restaurant Chili in the Triad!!!" We hope to make this one bigger than ever, so please mark your calendars! We will have a new registration site up soon for this, and you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or soon go to www.kidsofchildhoodcancer.org - I am in the process of updating the upcoming events, calendar and NEWSLETTER!!!
Our 2nd main event is our Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction that has been moved to April 12th at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church in Kernersville. We do need help collecting Silent Auction Items for the dinner, and setting up the event!!
Our 3rd main event is our 4th Annual 2014 WALK 4 OUR KIDS set up for May 10, 2014. We are honoring all Survivors, Warriors, Angels… all Mothers who have had children battle cancer, and all Mothers who have lost their children to this horrific disease. We are looking for Sponsors (corporate or individuals), as well as All participants!! To sign up and register or to DONATE to the 5K, you can go to www.walk4ourkids.org and Vinny's TEAM page to donate or join is: Vinny or look up "Team Vinny" here:
We want to make it the best year ever!!!
And also TBA is our Harley Davidson BIKE RUN on June 7th. PLEASE MARK THE DATES!!!
We truly do wish all of you a very Happy New Year. We thank ALL of you who continue reading, writing to us, and supporting us through the years. We love each and every one of you.