Journal entry by Lani Allen

Today is the last day to see Daniel's "Geared Up for Christmas" Tree at the Festival of Trees at South Towne Expo Center. Again, it's on Aisle C position 03. It's at the front of Aisle C on the northwest side.

Details about the Tree (perhaps more than you wanted to know)
This is the tree I've always wanted to do for Daniel. If there is a tree that truly screams "Daniel"... this would be it. I'm sure over the years we will donate other trees in his honor but perhaps none that so strongly remind us of Daniel. The idea of this tree emerged two years ago but I knew we wouldn't be able to do it the first year as we put that tree together in a matter of days and if we were going to do a "Lightning McQueen" tree, I wanted to do it well. Last year with us moving beginning of November to Oklahoma there was no way we could've pulled it off. I'm glad we waited till this year. When we realized that we were coming into Utah as frequently as we are, it became more and more of a reality that we could probably pull off doing the "Lightning McQueen" tree.

RED Tree
Back in July, I started researching over the internet for Christmas in July Sales. When I came across the 7.5" Ashley RED Christmas Tree at I knew it was the one so I ordered it. I've been asked several times where you find a RED tree. The answer is: You can find almost anything on the internet. I knew if we were going to have a RED Christmas tree that we were going to have to decorate it right in order for it to sell.

Then I began to look for snowflakes that were made out of gears. I really didn't think I'd find anything that would work. To me, it seemed like a miracle when I happened to search "snowflake gears" at and found a shop called SplendidColors. I custom ordered laser cut Steam Punk styled snowflake gears and the Tree Topper piece from this shop. Thank you Kathryn Hedges for these beautiful pieces.

Rotating Gears
Upon showing my ideas to my family, my brother Jason piped in that he thought it would be pretty cool if some gears on the tree moved. He mentioned planetary gears. He'll be graduating in the spring with his Mechanical Engineering degree. I had no idea what planetary gears were but the search began. Again, I found something on Etsy that looked promising. I came across a shop entitled SteamyTech, owned by Lora Price, that made small 2.5" planetary gear kits that you could put together and display. They were not self-propelled moving gears so they would need to be modified. I ordered 8 of these and requested a custom order of larger 6" planetary gear kits. We didn't know what would work. The 2.5" kits proved to be too small to work with or see movement on so we ended up using them as stationary ornaments. Jason thought perhaps we could use ornament rotation motors that plug into the light strand. These typically hang vertically to spin an ornament but he thought if we attached these to the back of the gear in a horizontal fashion that perhaps we could get it to rotate the sun gear and the planetary gears would revolve around it. I thought sure... lets give it a try so we ordered some heavy duty ornament rotation motors (8x stronger than most) off of Amazon. After Jason and my dad Bry played around with the sample gear and motor, it was determined that the 6" planetary gear kits had potential to work so we ordered more.

The real work began when I got into Utah two months ago and started painting the planetary gear kits different cool metal color ranging from Silver to Gold. I modified the design of the gears by not using the typical propeller piece that keeps the gears together and instead making acrylic shields that would allow the movement of the gears to be seen better. That's about all we got done at that point and then headed back to OK for 3 weeks. Upon coming back into town 3 weeks ago the process continued. Over the last two weeks there have been many hours of modifying these gears to work. Trust me... there have been tears of frustration and almost giving up. I couldn't have done this without the support of my family, especially my mom Dee who aided by watching my babies who were quite sick. They just had to be so precisely placed, sanded, and smooth. They were close, but not quite when my brother Nate suggested using lacquer on the backside of the sun gear and planetary gears to make them smooth so they'd glide. This is what they needed to reduce friction. With a lot of determination and reworking, we finally got the Planetary Gears kits to work. I still think it is a miracle. We had a few extra ornament rotation motors so Dave thought we could use these on the back of four gearflakes to make them rotate. This added more movement to the tree. The moving gears really were worth the effort as they are the finishing touch on the tree.

Gifts Under the Tree
Although the tree itself only had a hidden Lightning McQueen and hidden Mater (along with a hidden ornament that said "Daniel" on it), the feel was definitely Disney Cars. Everything under the tree was definitely Disney Cars. Most were Cars toys, Micro Racers, and books like "Mater Saves Christmas". There were a few Disney Cars themed musical instruments like a drum set and guitar. The most awesome thing under the tree though was the Lightning McQueen Power Wheels Ride-on Car. Tyler tested it out in the front room after Uncle Jason put it together for quality assurance and it passed. Many of these items were purchased a few months ago and some can no longer be found.

My sister Emily helped me shop for quite a few of the ornaments. The snowflakes made out of metal and the starbursts were perfect additions. My mom Dee also helped out in this process and trimming the tree with deco mesh and ribbons. The night before Decoration Day mom and I worked on wiring and gluing hangers on ornaments so they'd be ready to place on the tree. I didn't sleep till after my dad Bry and I delivered the tree on Decoration Day on Monday at 7 a.m. I then headed back home to sleep for a few hours. At 12:30 p.m. I headed back over to meet my team of elves. My mom, sister-in-law Beth Fewkes and good friend Jen Atwood helped in the decorating and tedious wiring process as all ornaments must be wired down for transport to the purchaser after the Festival is over. We finished decorating around 5:30 p.m. but finished check off at 7 p.m.

Donated Rocky Mountain Raceway Tix
I'd like to thank good friend Anissa Call who was able to get 4 tickets to any 2014 Rocky Mountain Raceways event donated to go with the tree. It was a last minute phone call and she made it happen. Daniel so loved going out to the Raceway and watching the cars race. It was like being there in real life and watching a live Lightning McQueen race. They made sure he got VIP treatment out there. Thanks to Mike Eames, General Manager of Rocky Mountain Raceways, for donating the tickets to go with the tree. It was the icing on the cake :)

Bidding Night
Tuesday night was Bidding Night. It is always an exciting night. There were so many people that were intrigued by the tree. We are thrilled that the couple that purchased the tree is in love with it. They are so excited that they get to take it home after the Festival. The Festival of Trees really is an amazing event!

Thanks to my Elves
I just want to take a moment to thank all those that helped make this possible. I have an amazingly supportive family. You each played an important role of making this become a reality. Thank you to my husband Dave who is always supportive of my many ideas. We are so blessed to have so many people that love and support us. We feel blessed that we were able to create a beautiful tribute to Daniel and give to a good cause such as Primary Children's Medical Center at the same time.
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Journal entry by Lani Allen

We decorated a tree dedicated to our Daniel. It is entitled "Geared up for Christmas" and can be found on Aisle C-03. It is toward the front of Aisle C on the north side. If you know Daniel, trust me... you won't be able to mistake it... it is a RED tree with metal ornaments and moving gears. Of course, it has Lightning McQueen themed gifts under the tree.

Thoughts on Daniel's Tree
This is a tree that I had wanted to do two years ago but knew we couldn't pull it off last minute. I knew it was going to take some time and planning. I'm grateful that we held out because I really feel that this tree is the perfect tribute to Daniel. He would be in love with it. He'd love that EVERYTHING Lightning McQueen is under the tree but he'd also love that the tree is RED with moving Gears.

There are so many people that collaborated on this tree to make it what it came to be. The inspiration for it came from a Lightning McQueen Xmas gift bag that had artwork of gears in the shape of snowflakes on it. When I came across a RED Christmas tree, I knew that was the one. When I showed my idea board to my family, my brother Jason (who is graduating as a mechanical engineer in Spring) mentioned that he thought it'd be really cool if we had some gears on the tree that actually moved. He mentioned planetary gears and so the idea was born. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves in to as there was nothing out there that existed how we envisioned. The gears are custom made and there is some definite ingenuity used in order to get decorative gears to actually work with a motor. We used ornament rotating motors that typically are hung from the tree in a vertical manor and rotate ornaments. These motors were attached horizontally on the back of the gears and connected to the sun gear, which rotates and thus the planetary gears move around it. (More about all of the details of the tree coming together in another post to come).

When it is all said and done, the tree is what I was hoping for. It accomplished the near impossible of being Lightning McQueen themed and yet a classy tree that would appeal to adults also. The tree itself really has only two hidden Cars ornaments on it of Lightning McQueen and Mater and there is also a hidden ornament that has Daniel's name on it. Other than that, the rest of the tree has both moving and non-moving gears on it. Snowflakes that are made of gears, metal snowflakes, and cool metallic colored balls ranging from variations of silver and gold. I'd say it almost has a steam punk feel to it.

Now that it's all said and done, I can't tell you how happy I am that we did it. Daniel would love it and I couldn't help but get a bit emotional at bidding night and, again, yesterday when I went with Dave and the children. It hit me a few times while getting ornaments and planning for the tree, but it really hit me hard when the tree was set up at the Festival and on display. I don't know if I can even put into words the flood of feelings and emotions. I am so glad that we are able to do this in memory of our Daniel and at the same time benefit other children... what an amazing thing!

So many people would stop and comment on it because it was Lightning McQueen... they'd never seen a red tree and the motors moving was the finishing touch. It was fun to see how excited people got over the tree. I think it along with a few others definitely stood out. If you have the chance, I recommend seeing the Nemo Tree, the Monsters University Librarian tree, the Retro Tree, the Mickey Tree with included Mickey Playhouse, to name just a few unique trees. There were beautiful ones too like the Ballerina tree, Stand in Holy Places tree and soooo many more.

Daniel... we lovingly dedicate this tree to you. You who taught us to love with all of our hearts and to "Love Each Other". May we remember this always but especially at this time of year. We miss you... we always will but we are grateful beyond measure for the memories that you gave us, the love you showed us, the courage that you radiated, and the knowledge that we will see you again. We know you watch over us and we can still feel your continual love.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

We decorated a tree dedicated to our Daniel. It is entitled "Geared up for Christmas" and can be found on Aisle C-03. It is toward the front of Aisle C on the north side. If you know Daniel, trust me... you won't be able to mistake it... it is a RED tree with metal ornaments and moving gears. Of course, it has Lightning McQueen themed gifts under the tree. (I will talk about the specifics of the tree more in a post later today, but I wanted to get the info for the Festival of Trees out for those that are considering attending).

Festival of Trees opens Today!
The Festival of Trees is open to the public starting today Wednesday December 4th through Saturday December 7th, from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily. It is held at South Towne Expo Center 9575 South State Street, Sandy, UT. 

Every penny raised helps children at Primary Children's Hospital.

Ticket Info
Today Wednesday December 4th is Family Day. A family ticket is $15 and will admit up to six immediate family members. Tickets are available at the door for $5 - adults, $4 - senior citizens, $3.50 - children (ages 2 - 11). Discount tickets, which are $1 off, are still available at many Zion's Bank locations.Cash and Check only. No Credit Cards; however, there are ATM machines available at South Towne Expo Center.

For 43 years, the Festival of Trees has been a "Gift of Love" to children. The Festival is organized by a volunteer board of 85 women who enlist time and talents from thousands of individuals, organizations, businesses and families throughout Utah and beyond. Over $33 million has been raised for children at Primary Children's Hospital through the Festival since 1971, with $1,871,546.91 raised last year.

  • Christmas Trees: Over 700 beautifully decorated and donated trees done by church groups, families, individuals, businesses, civic organizations, and clubs.
  • Playhouse Plaza: Child-sized dream houses, dollhouses, rocking horses, and children's furniture.
  • Centerpieces and Collectibles: huge variety of centerpieces and home décor decorated and donated.
  • Gingerbread Village: creations made with gingerbread, icing, and candy
  • Quilt Block: Beautifully made quilts in a variety of patterns, colors, and sizes.
  • Aisle of Wreaths: Wreaths for the holidays and all seasons, door and mantel decorations, and outdoor displays.
  • Gift Boutique: A shop filled with a variety of items, many of which are handcrafted such as quilts, toys, baby gifts, not cards, Christmas décor, jewelry, articles for the kitchen and home, neighbors gifts and so much more for sale.
  • ELF Emporium: A new shop designed for kids of all ages. Warm bread, lollipops, toys, and gifts.
  • Kids Korner: Activities for children including a giant bubble machine, face painting, Dial-an-Elf, and much more!
  • Friendship Cards: Handmade Christmas cards to purchase and inscribe in honor of someone special.
  • Santa Land: a visit and photo with Santa.
  • Sweet Shoppe: Fudge, divinity, caramel apples, chocolates, and a variety of baked goods.
  • Scones and Sweet Rolls: Festival favorites - hot scones and sweet rolls!
  • Entertainment: Singers, dancers, and instrumentalists entertain each day.
This is an event not to be missed. It is truly eye-candy. Many of the items are dedicated to a loved one. This is our way of saying thank you for all of the care that Daniel received. Not all families are as blessed as we have been with amazing insurance. I can not imagine having to go through having an ill child AND also having the financial stress that that can cause. For us, the financial stress was never a factor because we had great insurance. That is the gift that we would like to give other parents so that they can keep their focus where it needs to be... on the child. Please come and support Primary Children's Medical Center and the many children that are in need of medical care.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

A lot has happened in what seems like such little time. I know I haven't been great about writing but appreciate that people seem to still check the site. We will be working on transferring entries over to a new website this next year. We were hoping to do it much sooner than we have... but life is crazy. We have many ideas on how we'd like the new site to run but mostly it is a place where we can store our thoughts, keep Daniel's memory alive, and hopefully aid others as well.

We have now lived in Ardmore, OK for just a little over a year; however, I don't know if you'd even know that we ever left UT. In May this last year Dave landed a moonlighting job at Utah Valley Regional Hospital. Initially, he was only working one week out of the month in Utah. The great thing is that traditionally hospitals will cover the flight, car rental, and hotel stay. Being as we have family in town that we can stay with, Dave asked them if they'd be willing to trade the hotel for extra flights for both me and Tyler. They agreed! So Tyler has had his own seat on all flights and at age 18 months started racking up his own flight miles, if you can believe it. It's wonderful because it's free flights back to visit family.

Over the Summer Tyler and I stayed in Utah for six weeks while Dave flew back and forth. This gave Dave some unobstructed study time for the Medical Boards that he took middle of August, which he passed. End of July we all flew back to OK and brought my mom Dee back with us as this was the last possible time I could fly being 34 weeks pregnant. On August 20th at 1:32pm a baby girl became part of our family. We named this sweet angel Alexis Bree Allen.

Working at Mercy Memorial Medical Center in Ardmore, OK, Dave works one week on and one week off. In September he started working all off weeks at Utah Valley Regional Hospital in Orem, UT. So he now works every other week in UT. For the first six weeks after Lexi was born, we didn't fly with Dave. We don't always fly with him. Sometimes we stay 3 weeks in OK, sometimes we stay 3 weeks in UT and, of course, sometimes we just fly in and out with him every other week. The children travel well and we love that we get to see family as often as we do... perhaps even more as we stay with my parents when we are in Utah. We really feel like both places are home. It's kind of a strange lifestyle, but it works for us for now.

We won't be able to do this forever, of course.  We'll either do it till this opportunity dries up or Tyler is in school. With the kids being so young, we are able to travel pretty easily. So why don't we come back to Utah? Well, Utah doesn't pay too well. Because he is moonlighting, he makes time and a half which happens to be his normal rate in OK. It'd be hard to turn that down. Dave loves his job in Ardmore, OK. It really is his dream job where he is able to be a Hospitalist and also do ICU care.  But for now traveling back and forth, is helping us get out of enormous debt (school loans) incredibly fast. We feel very blessed.

Tyler just turned two years old on November 3rd and Lexi is now just over 3 months old. The time has flown. Daniel has been gone a little over two years now and, naturally, we still miss him. The children have kept us very busy but there are moments here and there that it hits us that someone in our family is missing. We are grateful for the gospel as it truly makes it that we are able to move forward with strength.

I thought it appropriate to give an update on us before I write an entry about the Festival of Trees.  We were able to enter a tree this year that is dedicated to our Daniel. Bidding night is tonight but I'll write more about it in the next entry :)

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Journal entry by Lani Allen


The anniversary of Daniel's passing came. We call it his Angelversary. I like the term. It feels more like a celebration of continuing on beyond this life. I didn't know how I would emotionally respond to this date that will continue to be a date we always remember. Because of this, we reminisced the date as just our small family... just Dave, me and Tyler. The three of us went to visit Daniel. 

In the morning I dressed TyTy in his outfit that says "Little Brother". Oh, how Daniel so wanted to be a Big Brother... and he is, just not how I had envisioned. I do believe that Daniel watches over his Little Brother. We took a few cute photos of Ty visiting Big Brother's memorial. Ty was so happy and cute that it definitely helped put a smile on our faces. I almost dreaded this day coming. I knew it would come and that I couldn't stop it, but it was "a beautiful day." As Daniel would've said, "The sun is shining... it is a beautiful day." I thought it would be a difficult day and was surprised to find that although I did shed a few tears, overall I felt comforted. 

My dear sweet Daniel,
Oh how I miss you! I'm so afraid of forgetting all of the little things. It seems my mortal mind is weak and that I just can't remember like I'd like to. Perhaps this is to allow me to move forward with this life though. I know you wouldn't want us to be sad and that you'd want us to focus on all of the beautiful moments. We have so many wonderful memories. I thank you for that. You always knew just how to put a smile on my face. I miss your wiggle bum dance, you're silly contagious laugh, your determination, your sweet thoughtfulness. I just miss you... everything about you. You stole my heart from the first moment we met and that only became stronger with time. I am sure you taught me more than I taught you. You showed me what it was like to see the world through your eyes. You taught me that it's okay to be silly and enjoy life... after all, each moment truly is a gift. You endured so much and with such unimaginable strength rarely complaining. You are my hero.

Love Each Other... always and forever.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Where has the time gone?

It is now a little over a year ago since we discovered that Daniel's cancer had returned and that it would soon take his life. There are times that that moment in time feels so close and yet at other times it seems like a lifetime away. So very much has happened in such a short amount of time. Daniel is very much a part of our lives and he always will be. We reminisce often and share our memories. It was just the other day that Dave brought me home a breakfast burrito from McDonald's and I said, "Thank you for the Mean Burrito" while fist punching the air. We had a good laugh. Daniel left us with so many Danielisms and memories that make us smile. He saw life differently than the rest of us and lived each moment with joy. He looked for ways to make others smile.

A few weeks ago Dave and I encountered a gentleman whose daughter passed away 12 years ago from a genetic disorder. He shared with us that he and his wife have struggled for 12 years and are only barely starting to move forward. I felt for this man. It is never easy to lose a child no matter what the circumstances; however, I do have to admit that some ways are more traumatic than others. I feel for those who have lost their children to traumatic causes. I consider ourselves very blessed for so many reasons. There was no one to blame. You can't really blame "cancer"... it just happens, as unfortunate as it is. There is no one to hold a grudge against; however, this is where many blame God. We never lost faith or questioned Him. We may not completely understand His plan but we trust that His wisdom is greater than ours. We were given the amazing gift of foresight. We knew that our time was short and we were able to live those moments with no regrets. I consider this the most precious gift that we were given. This is what has made it that we are able to move forward. We needed that and in many ways I don't think it was by accident that we found out the cancer had returned when we did. Not everyone has the opportunity to prepare themselves for the passing of their loved one. I thank Heavenly Father for giving us this generous gift. Oh how my heart aches for those that lose a loved one instantly in tragic circumstances.

People deal with grief differently and in their own time. I believe that the reason Dave and I have done as well as we have is because we had the last six priceless weeks with our Daniel to put everything on pause and just focus on what mattered most. But perhaps it is more than that. Our faith in the gospel and the eternal plan has given us strength. I am so grateful that we have not lost sight of this and that we have stayed connected as a couple. We communicate often, we share memories of Daniel, and we look forward as in the near future we will experience many changes.

Lately we have been fixing up the house and getting it ready to sell. The house is finally what I had envisioned 6 years ago when I moved into it. Funny how that happens just as you are leaving. I've been quite preoccupied with little fix ups. Dave has been helping out where he can in between working. We only have three months till he finishes Residency and we pack up and move to Ardmore, Oklahoma where Dave is taking a position as a Hospitalist at Mercy Medical Center. His class graduated June 30th but he owes a few months back from time he took off for Daniel. We consider ourselves fortunate that Dave's Residency program allowed him time off during crucial moments over the last few years. Despite how difficult the last few years have been, Dave has impressed many of his Attendings with his courage and strength during immense stress.

Daniel's little brother Tyler also keeps us quite busy. He is a very happy baby that loves to laugh and smile (he has the cutest giggle and dimple to go with it). He is now 8 and a half months old but the size of an 18 month old (no, I'm not joking). He is 24 lbs and 30 inches tall. He is in the 90th percentile for both height and weight. Dave jokes that Football recruiters are already knocking on our door. Tyler is a healthy boy. His temperment reminds us a lot of Daniel. He is easygoing and so happy. He adds joy to our home and we are so grateful that we have been entrusted with raising this sweet little spirit. We indeed have been very blessed.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Missing Daniel

There is nothing special about today, but I felt like writing just the same. It's hard to write when you feel what I would call "numb" but perhaps writing is the best therapy. I used to write because there was so much to write about. Life was extremely busy with going to the hospital and caring for my sweet Daniel. As the months have rolled by, things aren't as busy and it feels like something is missing... perhaps because it is. I miss Daniel. I know that everything came to be as it should but is doesn't negate the fact that I miss him. I miss his silly Danielisms. I miss his contagious laugh. I miss the fact that he would make me smile everyday by just being him. Most of the time I try to push these feelings aside. I try to focus on the happy memories (which always make me smile) and not the fact that I just miss him. Having Tyler has been good. He is a good distraction and his smile and laugh make me smile as well. I really believe that our Heavenly Father knew what he was doing in sending us Tyler when he did. Snuggling Tyler helps. He gives me a reason to get up out of bed even when I don't feel like it (even at 3am). But all joking aside, I think without him... I wouldn't have much desire to do anything right now. Being and staying busy is good for me and I know that... so I attempt to do just that. Our society really doesn't like to address grief and mourning. No one likes to talk about it. It still all feels so surreal. Dave and I have admitted to each other that we have felt like we are in "survival mode" and just going through the motions of everyday life. We are talking through it and staying connected as a couple though. We are aware of where we are and realize that although this is a natural process to go through that Daniel would want us to be happy. Lately, we've tried to come up with a few goals to set our sights towards and I hope this helps us get passed the "funk". So much has happened in such little time. We've had major life changes that have seemed to hit one after another. These have all made us stronger so I have no doubt that this will do the same. Please know that Dave and I are doing well. We just miss Daniel. I am sure that we will always miss Daniel. It is impossible not to. He had such an impact on our lives and taught us so much about LOVE and what is really important in this life. I realize we were not the only ones impacted by Daniel and his strength and contagious enthusiasm for life. I hope that his memory will continue to live in others and impact their lives for the better as well. 

Daniel, I miss you! I always will. Thank you for making me a better person. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for loving me no matter what. May I continue to be a better person because of your example.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Sky Lantern Celebration

The Sky Lantern Celebration was everything that we had hoped for and more. The weather was nice and we had a good turn out of friends and family. We are so appreciative of the support and love we have received. We started out the celebration by thanking those that had made it and been a part of Daniel's journey. Dave and I had put together a quick slideshow of memorable events from the last six weeks of Daniel's life. We had hoped to have this playing at the site but ran into a few complications, which were resolved. While we were waiting on the technical difficulties to be fixed so we could watch the slideshow, Dave and my brother Nate provided entertainment for the evening. We wanted to hang a wind chime that we had received from the Oncology Department of Primary Children's Hospital in remembrance of Daniel. We had not brought a ladder. Dave was trying to place the wind chime with a pole. That wasn't working so my brother Nate, who took up rock climbing last year, decided he was going to climb the very large tree. Fortunately, nobody was injured and the wind chime was placed. However, watching the placement process was quite entertaining.

While we waited for the sun to set, we chatted, wrote messages to Daniel on the red lanterns with markers, and enjoyed cookies & hot chocolate. The sun began to set and we decided to try out launching one of the lanterns. The first one was less than successful. We learned some valuable lessons from that first sky lantern. You need at least three people holding the paper lantern away from the burning fuel cell while the lantern fills with hot air (if you don't, you'll burn a whole in the side of the lantern which will allow the hot air to escape and the lantern will not be able to fly high enough to clear the trees in the cemetery). Fortunately, the first lantern that did get caught in the tree burnt out and did not ignite the tree, the cemetery or the nearby neighborhoods. We decided to take a little break and watch the slideshow that my dad was finally able to get going for us by hooking up the computer to a car battery. The video brought back enjoyable memories and a few tears as well.

Now knowing the pitfalls to avoid, we were able to successfully launch the other 7 lanterns. One by one they were released into the air. Groups gathered around the different lanterns. Dave would light the fuel cell and with each one I would get on top of a chair in order to get the lantern up a bit higher, wait for it to be filled with enough hot air and then release it. We also sent up about a dozen heart shaped balloons that the children were able to release on their own.

It was a fitting tribute to Daniel to celebrate the placement of his plaque. The bronze plaque has four pictures of Daniel etched in the bronze with a subtle 95 Lightning Bolt (symbolizing his love for Lightning McQueen). The plaque is absolutely beautiful and instantly brings back memories. It's more than just a plaque with a name. The QR Barcode will be officially placed this spring when the weather is not so damp; however, we did have it to display. We are currently working on a NEW Website in tribute to Daniel in which this QR Barcode will connect when scanned with a SmartPhone (QR Reader). There will be more details to follow about the website when it is closer to completion.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Upcoming Sky Lantern Celebration

Please mark your calendars for... 
Saturday March 10th for 5:30pm

We will be doing an unveiling of Daniel's headstone plaque and releasing sky lanterns into the heavens around dusk (approx. 6pm) at Redwood Memorial Estates Cemetery. For those of you that weren't able to attend the Graveside Services, Daniel's spot is west of the building by the stream. Anyone and everyone that would like to attend is welcome to join us in this celebration. 

Daniel's headstone marker has finally come in. It is absolutely beautiful. The bronze plaque is framed by gray granite. There are four photos of Daniel engraved in bronze. There is a subtle lightning bolt with the number 95 signifying Daniel's love for Lightning McQueen. The words engraved are...

In Loving Memory of our Angel
Daniel Alexander Allen
January 19, 2004 – August 22, 2011
Love Each Other

I had the opportunity to design the plaque with placement of photos. It took me awhile to get around to it... not so much because of lack of time or funds but because what doing it signified. You see, for me designing the plaque and turning it in had a finality to it. It was the last item that needed to be done. Emotionally sitting down to the computer and designing the plaque meant that we were putting a headstone marker into the ground for our sweet Daniel. This may seem like an obvious statement, but there was just a finality to it that I did not know if I was ready to face. Three months had passed since Daniel had left us, Tyler had been born, and the Festival of Trees was happening in just a few days when I finally made myself sit down to the computer to design Daniel's marker. I just wanted it to be so perfect because our Daniel deserved the best. I was concerned as to whether I would choose the right pictures of Daniel for this piece that would be etched and laid into the ground permanently as a reminder of the life of our sweet boy. Dave helped me choose out the photos. It was a tough decision because there are so many adorable photos. Once I actually sat down at the computer and was ready to design, the creative process flowed. The end result is a beautiful remembrance plaque that instantly reminds us of Daniel and his sweet spirit.

In a few weeks on Saturday March 10th, assuming that the weather is agreeable, we will be releasing Sky Lanterns (also known as Wish Lanterns or in China they are called Kongming Light). They are kind of like mini hot air balloons. If you have seen the Disney movie Tangled, then you might have a bit of a clue of what I'm talking about. In Tangled there is a scene where thousands of small Sky Lanterns are released into the sky. The RED Sky Lanterns that we will be releasing are quite large and meant to be released by small groups of individuals. They are 22" wide by 32" tall and can be written on so those in attendance can write a message on the lanterns before we release them. We will be releasing 8 of them toward sunset at approx. 6pm. We hope to see many familiar faces of family and friends as well as those that may not know us personally but have been following Daniel's story and been inspired by it :-)

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Happy Birthday Angel

Today was Daniel's Birthday. It is a bit surreal realizing that this would've marked his 8th Birthday. I think back to where we were a year ago. I remember all too well that we had just been released from the hospital after having his Bone Marrow Transplant. I can't help but remember what a very scary experience that was and that we did not know at that time whether he would pull through it... but he did miraculously. It was not yet his time, he had much to give and teach us still. I believe that he probably had a choice because he was literally on his death bed at times. I think his mission was not yet complete and that is why we got him for an extra eight months. What a truly precious gift life is! We forget how fragile life is and that our time is a gift every single day. We can't help but get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that it is easy to forget that the only thing we take with us is our experiences from this life. We are all guilty of this a bit. We forget what it's really all about. Are we holding our loved ones enough, are we telling them how much we love them, are we actively creating memories, are we showing our love by serving our neighbors, are we following Christ's example, are we striving to continually be better than we are? I hope that the answer is yes and if not, that we can take a quiet moment and reflect on where we are and where we want to be. Although it is not the beginning of the year, it is still January and it is a good time to take a closer look at who we are and contemplate on where we'd like to be and who we'd like to become. So many people do this at the beginning of every January and by February they have already faltered on their goals and they give up without making any permanent progress. They started out with good intentions but didn't follow through. Real change and progress takes commitment and continual reassessment. The truth is that if we've already faltered, we can recommit ourselves again and continue striving to be better. Unfortunately, many only do this once a year. What if we were to take an inventory weekly though and assess our progress? I think perhaps we would see real results if we could just take a moment every week and evaluate how we are doing and recommit ourselves weekly, if necessary.

On January 16th of last year, Daniel was released from the hospital after recovering enough from the Bone Marrow Transplant that he could go home. We were so excited that he would be home for his birthday on the 19th. He would always tease everyone and ask if they'd like "pickles and onions on their cake." Of course, he was looking for a reaction and he'd always get one. We decided that it would only be appropriate for Daniel to have pickles and onions on his cake so Oma had a cake made from Walmart that had frosting pickles and onions drawn on it and it said, "Happy Birthday Daniel... with pickles and onions on your cake." It was perfect. Daniel decided that pickles and onions on your cake really are very good. We all had a good laugh. It is these sweet memories that I treasure. It was a wonderful day and so nice not to be in the hospital but it wasn't long lived as he was admitted to the hospital only a few days later on January 24th with a high fever. So much has changed over the last year.

Today my mom gave Tyler an Angel Gift for Daniel's Birthday. I think it's a great tradition to start. I appropriately wore my RED Team Daniel shirt today. I went out to Daniel's site. Dave was unable to go because he was working. My mom and good friend Jen Atwood met me out there with her sweet sons and Daniel's good friends Issac and Eli. Of course, Tyler was there with us and it was a warm enough day that he was able to be uncovered a little bit. Tyler's gone out with Dave and I a few times now when it's warm enough that we can go. We decorated Daniel's site with a few balloons. We gathered in a group hug and sang Happy Birthday to Daniel and then released a few of the balloons into the heavens. It was a tender moment. I am so very lucky to have such amazing friends and even a few friends that remembered and text me today.

My brother Jason, Tyler and I headed up to Roy to have a birthday party in behalf of Daniel with my niece Bailey. I know she really misses Daniel and was having a difficult time. I know she was concerned that this would've been his 8th Birthday and he would've been baptized. I think she understands now that Daniel didn't need to be because he was an innocent child. His place in heaven is assured. Bailey had 8 balloon for us to each write a message to Daniel on. We then released these into the heavens. We had some cake with red frosting and we visited for a bit. I think Bailey was really grateful that we made it up there and for me it was nice not to be alone today. Dave and I had a late dinner. We went to Olive Garden because it was Daniel's favorite restaurant. We blew straw wrappers at each other. It's funny how simple things can remind you of someone.

My friend Jen asked me earlier today how it is possible that I can be strong for everyone else and help buoy them up. I believe the strength is because I am buoyed up by my guardian angel. It wasn't till later when I sat in Daniel's room that the emotions began to flow. I try not to sit in Daniel's room too often because this is an almost certain effect. There are times that it is appropriate though. I was filled with a flood of different emotions both happy and sad. The sad emotion wasn't because of sad memories though... it was because I miss him and there are no more memories to be made. I can only hold on to the ones I have. Happy Birthday, my angel Daniel. Thank you for touching my heart and reminding me what really is important in life.

I hope you hold your loved ones a bit longer today and make sure that you tell them how very much you love them. They may know it but hearing it is priceless.

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Journal entry by Lani Allen

Today Daniel received a feeding tube. With his new chemo treatment, he has struggled with his appetite.  Food just has not been that appealing.  The company that makes the pumps is called Kangaroo Pumps and the pediatric version is called a Joey. Daniel is very proud of his Joey and likes to show people it. He thinks drinking chocolate milk through his nose is pretty silly :-)

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Daniel’s Story

Site created on August 15, 2010

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Daniel, who is now 7 years old, was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (brain cancer) on August 20, 2009. He was initially treated with surgery, radiation, & chemotherapy. At that time we were told that the prognosis was 70-80% cure rate with a planned treatment course of approx. one year.

Unfortunately, on June 30, 2010 we found out during a followup MRI that his cancer had returned during treatment. His prognosis has gone from a moderate risk to high risk... with expected cure rate of approx. 40%. The plan of action was changed and he underwent a new chemo regimen from July through December 2010.

September 21, 2010 Daniel received a follow up MRI scan that came back with significant improvement (almost undetectable) and the lumbar punture showed no visible signs of cancer cells.  This made it that we were able to move forward with the new proposed plan. In December he received High Dose Chemotherapy with Bone Marrow Rescue (where Daniel will be his own bone marrow donor).  This was followed by a repeat course of 15 doses of radiation. The Bone Marrow Rescue was followed by 100 days of radiation.  All MRI's since have shown no cancer present. 


Daniel's July 7, 2011 was supposed to be the final MRI before being on maintenance. It was supposed to be the MRI that said we were done with treatment after 2 years. However, the scan came back showing that the cancer had returned. It is aggressive and resistant. There are no more treatment options left. Daniel will have a few weeks to 1-2 months left with us.

Despite all of this Daniel is a fun-loving, caring, silly, and happy boy. He reminds us daily how precious each moment is.

Daniel was selected by the Utah Chapter of MAKE A WISH to become a Wish Kid. Daniel received a key in the mail that unlocks the Wish Tower. On August 18th Daniel got to place his wish in the wish tower. He wished to meet Lightning McQueen from Disney's Cars. At the end of September, we flew to Orlando, Florida to Disney World to meet Lightning McQueen.  We had an amazing once in a life time trip that we so desperately needed. It was wonderful to see Daniel be a kid and have more fun than imaginable.

HopeKids ( 
Daniel joined Hope Kids, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses to participate in activities as a well-needed break from the continual medical treatments. So far, Daniel has been able to go to Arcade Madness at the SkyBox, The Dino Show at the Utah Natural History Museum, Thriller, and seen Nanny McPhee Returns and Rio in a reserved theatre, Journey to Bethlehem, the Renaissance Festival, and the Living Planet Aquarium.