Journal

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Hope.  To me, hope is one of the most important words in the universe.  Hope for the future. Hope for love. Hope for prosperity. Hope for joy. Hope for LIFE.  Without hope there is despair. 

This has been a hard week, for many.  And I've been struggling with what to write today.  I knew I wanted to write something... a tribute, but I was at a loss for words.  This week we lost a precious young life, and we honor another who passed one year ago today. Ben Tavella passed in his dorm room on Tuesday. As written in the press release by Mason schools, "Ben was a fiercely independent, witty, bright young man, who had defied many odds and was pursuing engineering."   Maya loved Ben and I know she greeted him at the gates and wrapped him in love.  

Sable Gibson passed away a year ago today, from complications related to the flu and strep throat.  Both of these deaths have rocked our community.  For  families like ours, who have lost a child, these deaths bring back memories.  Trauma.  It all comes crashing back.  It is hard not to despair.  

But, in the aftermath of tragedy there is hope.  Hope for peace and comfort.  Hope for love.  Hope that life will continue, somehow, amidst the grief and despair.  

Sable's death has brought our community together.  The kindness and love that has embraced our community because of her has been amazing.  I know that Ben's death will do the same, will renew the love and kindness within our community.  Both of these sweet souls will continue to bring us together, to work together for the greater good.  To give us hope and faith in humanity.

So, I felt that "hope" was a fitting tribute for today. And even more fitting as I head to St. Jude this afternoon with one of my dearest and most loyal friends (I have many and for that I'm so grateful).  Heading to the hospital that is so dear to my heart.  That offered our family so much hope.  I will feel closer to Maya there.  I can't wait to feel her.  😇  When I think of hope I think of this photo.  It was taken the day we arrived at St. Jude.  We had so much hope.  Hope for a cure.  Hope for a long life.  Hope for the future.

So, as our community grieves during this "National Kindness Week" please honor these babies and do an act of kindness.  Sable's family asks that you make a donation to their foundation that does so much good within our community.  To make a donation please visit: https://shinelikesable.org/  Or make a donation to your favorite charity, buy a coffee for someone or a meal for the person behind you in the drive-thru.  Give a big tip to your waiter/waitress...  or simply open the door for someone and smile. A simple smile can go a long way.  And say a prayer for these two families on this extremely hard day.  Pray that they can find comfort and hope amidst despair. 

#LiveLikeMaya
#MayaStrong
#MayaSentMe
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Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

119.  We were 119 votes short of winning the Xavier grant.  😭 The animal sanctuary won and as bummed as I was, I know Maya would've been happy as she loved animals. And I was amazed at how many votes we received and thankful for my village who rallied so hard for us!  So I licked my wounds, pulled up my bootstraps (I'm really showing my age with these comments) and moved on... only to open a letter in the mail this past Saturday with a check for $5,000!! 😍  It was a grant from an extremely generous couple in Kentucky who have followed Sophia Kappen's journey (Sophia passed away a few months before Maya of leukemia also).  Amy, Sophia's momma, was so kind to try to rally her village for votes for us so I guess this sweet couple followed our progress and took pity on me when we lost, LOL.  Anyway, I am so grateful for their most generous donation!  I would give them a shout out on here but I'm not sure if they want to remain anonymous or not, so if they see this post I just want them to know that I cried like a baby when I saw the check!! 😭  THANK YOU!  And thank you to ALL of you who tried SO HARD to get us the votes!!

I do want you all to know that your donations are helping families!  We have delivered assistance to several families at Cincinnati Children's Hospital over the past few months. I am so happy to be able to help, even if it is probably just a small drop in the bucket as compared to all the medical bills that they have.  I hope, as our foundation grows, that we can do so much more!

I know this is last minute, but if anyone is interested, I'm delivering and emailing Valentines out tomorrow in return for a donation to our foundation.  I came up with the idea yesterday after I received two donations from individuals who donated as a Valentine gift for their loved one.  For a donation of less than $25 I'll email a Valentine's Day e-card acknowledging that a donation has been made to our foundation in their honor (and a message from you if you include it with the donation).  For a donation of $25 or more I'll deliver a box of chocolates and the same card of acknowledgement (if the delivery is local in the Mason area) if you include the recipient's address. For more information visit:  https://mailchi.mp/094cc73e7cde/send-your-valentine-a-card-for-a-cause It's an easy way show you love someone and help a great cause!!

And, finally, we have some BIG NEWS that I wanted to announce that we are super excited about.  We are hosting a Mother's Day luncheon fundraiser at the Manor House Event Center here in Mason on May 9th in conjunction with the Shine Like Sable Foundation.  Sweet Sable passed away suddenly last year from complications of the flu (next week is the one year anniversary of her death, so please send up prayers for her family).  Her family is also from Mason and they have since formed a foundation in her memory and are doing amazing things to carry out her legacy!  Both of our foundations raise funds for Cincinnati Children's Hospital (CCHMC) so we are joining forces to host a fundraiser for this hospital that fought so hard to save our girls!  We will have speakers from CCHMC at the event, games, music, mimosas, delicious food and much more!!  Tickets will go on sale in March so keep a lookout on our website for the link!

We are looking for raffle and silent auction items for the fundraiser.  Incredibly, I posted this sign-up sheet for baskets and auction/raffle items on Facebook and within 48 hours a majority of things had been claimed already!! But there are still a few things on there if anyone can help us out: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4aaaae2baa8-raffleauction

Also, other things we are looking for are theatre/orchestra tickets, photography sessions, limo rides, spa packages, vacation destinations or any type of experience like a personal chef or private restaurant event.  

Next week I will head to St. Jude for the Volunteer Leadership Conference. Last year I had the honor of attending as I was on the Cincinnati St. Jude Run/Walk committee.  This year I will attend as one of the top 50 fundraising teams. I'm super proud about that and looking forward to touring the hospital and seeing friends. 

It's going to be a great year!  We have been diligently planning our upcoming fundraisers.  I'm excited for what's in store.  Oh, and Tom is going to be opening a brewery in a month or so (I am Event Director), so there's that too.  Life is insane, but we constantly feel Maya... nudging us from behind and whispering in our ear. She fuels my fire.  I am learning to listen to my heart... to let go and let my heart take me where I need to be.  She is there... always... leading the way. Teaching me and showing me.  I may not hear her speaking the words, but she is everywhere... guiding me.  And for that I find peace.  Tomorrow will be a hard day for a lot of us.  The memories of the girls, decorating their tissue boxes, the excitement of the school parties, filling out their cards carefully for each person in their class.  I know they both are/would be too old for all of that now, but I still feel cheated.  It all ended so abruptly.  It's just not right.  😢  But I AM excited to take Anna out to lunch tomorrow.  Seeing her eases my heart. She makes me so proud with everything that she accomplishes and I know Maya is so proud too. 😍  Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, and to all who might feel lonely or has lost a loved one, please know that we hold you in our heart. 🙏 

#MayaStrong
#LiveLikeMaya

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Hi Friends!  One LAST ask and then I'll stop buggin' you all on here!  Our foundation was in first place yesterday but the non profit running for second place hit up an Instagram Influencer who shared it and now they are getting hundreds of votes!  Ugh!  I made this blog public so please share or copy and past the instructions and info below to share on your social media.

If you could just take 30 seconds to vote we'd be so grateful.  $5,000 to help these pediatric cancer families would be so wonderful!!  And for Maya's sister to accept the grant in Maya's memory would be even better!  At Anna's own university no-less!!  Here's the info again on how to vote and voting ends tonight at MIDNIGHT!  Thank you all for your support!!!  #LiveLikeMaya #MayaStrong

Hi Friends! So, most of you know my story. My daughter, Maya, fought cancer for 6 1/2 years and passed away in 2017. 💔 Her older sister, Annabella, is a freshman this year at Xavier. Our family has channeled our grief into a foundation, The Live Like Maya Foundation MayaStrong, raising $$ to financially assist families dealing with pediatric cancer and to help fund research for better treatment options and cures for pediatric cancer. We are trying to win a $5,000 grant that is being offered by Xavier University I'm reaching out to all of you to ask if you would kindly nominate our non-profit. It would be amazing if Annabella could accept this grant in honor of her sister at her very own university! Currently the 2nd place non-profit is pushing this hard on social media and gaining momentum!! If you guys could take 30 secs to vote we'd crush this! *An added bonus - if we win and you vote for us you'll be added to a drawing for 4 premium seats to the Jan 29th Xavier basketball game!**
 
  1. You will have to choose the drop down "MY NON PROFIT OF CHOICE IS NOT LISTED"
  2. Type in "THE LIVE LIKE MAYA FOUNDATION".


For more information about Maya and our foundation, you can visit www.LiveLikeMaya.org. 💙Thank you for your support!! We are so grateful!




Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Hello friends.  I've got a big ask of you today along with some other news so bear with me... 

First off I want to just express my sadness as I attended the funeral yesterday of a precious 15-month-old who passed away from AML (the same type of leukemia that took Maya) after fighting most of her short sweet life. 😢 I have become friends with her grandma, who is the most kind-hearted woman.  In addition, the day before yesterday I received a message from another precious grandma who has also received the news that her granddaughter has been diagnosed with leukemia.  News like this breaks my heart over and over again and just fuels my fire to keep fighting!!! 😡 

Our foundation is proud to say that we've donated checks to several families who are in need, but there are so many more who need help.  HERE IS MY BIGGEST ASK RIGHT NOW: 

We've discovered an opportunity to win a grant for $5,000 for our foundation. It is a give-back program through Annabella's (Maya's sister) university. The only thing that you need to do is VOTE FOR OUR FOUNDATION. It only takes 10 seconds to vote (you can only vote once but you can vote from multiple emails!).  If we receive the most votes Annabella would be able to accept the check at half time at the basketball game at her very own university in honor of her sister. I know this would make her YEAR!  We have over 4,000 people who follow us on CaringBridge.  If each one of you would vote we would crush this!   To vote, please go to this link, select "MY NON-PROFIT OF CHOICE IS NOT LISTED" and then write in the space below "THE LIVE LIKE MAYA FOUNDATION": https://app.wyng.com/XGivesBack?fbclid=IwAR1x9Cr3xJR2zjJYuSlW_bmK1e2-_RIWnj67yhrJnseWfWTuweFF1F_9Wak  Currently we are in second place but we've been head-to-head with the leading foundation for a few weeks now and they are pushing it hard on their social media.  Voting ends this Thursday so please vote for us soon!  ** An added bonus is that if our foundation wins and you vote for us you will be added to a drawing for premium seats for the January 29th Xavier game.**. THANK YOU!

Secondly, I received a text today from Mike Hull, Maya's second bone marrow donor, who has decided to train and run in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon next December.  I attended the marathon last month. I didn't run, but I wanted to check it out and support my friends who ran. Let me tell you, it is the most beautiful and inspirational thing you will ever do!!!  To run through the campus of the hospital and high-five the patients who are sitting along the street with signs and cow bells and their little bald heads.... it was incredible and so moving. To see the runners, tears streaming down their faces, as they hugged the kids... I can't explain how moving it was. Please watch a few of my videos below.  So, here is my ask of all of you.  I can't run... my knees are shot... but I do plan to walk/run the 5K... maybe I can even do the 10K??  Maybe??? For Maya??  I would LOVE to have a huge MayaStrong team at the marathon next year. I would LOVE for all of our supporters to join Mike's team, Team Live Like Maya, and join us for this incredible event.  There is a 5K, 10K, half and full marathon. Please join us... old and young.  Walk or run.  Please come.  It's sooo much fun. The whole weekend is fun.  People come in from all over the world to participate.  It will change your life!!!  You will meet other athletes and just people who have big hearts... hear their stories.  Some of them have been impacted directly by cancer, some of them have family or friends who have been impacted by St. Jude, but every... single... one... of them have the same mission, to help find cures for pediatric cancer!!  Please join our team & donate... please help Mike raise $50,000 for the kids of St. Jude in honor of Maya.  We can do this!!  Here is the link to my fundraising page and if you'd like to join us, please email me and I can help set up hotel accommodations so we can all be together!! But, if you commit to raising $3,000 your hotel room is free and St. Jude will set it up for you! Oh and FYI, Allegiant has just announced that they are flying DIRECT from Cincinnati to Memphis in the spring so CHEAP PLANE TICKETS!! But, we can also caravan from Cincinnati! That would be fun too!  I am posting Mike's email about why he is running and more details about the event at the end of this blog.  Here is the link to my fundraising page, and if you can't join us, please oh please consider a donation!:  http://heroes.stjude.org/MayaIsMyHero

And last but not least, to all my Mason friends... LifeTime Deerfield is once again hosting a fundraiser for St. Jude on March 7th, Ride for a Reason.  This year they are going all out and not only are they doing an all-day cycling event, but they will be offering a circuit class for people who don't cycle!!  Whooo hooo!  It will be an all-day event for St. Jude!  Please join our Live Like Maya team and ride with us or do the circuit class! You do not have to be a Lifetime member to participate.  It's a wonderful day of fitness for an amazing cause!  Here is my team page to join: http://heroes.stjude.org/RideForMaya  Please email me with any questions!

Thank you all for your support. Our foundation has lots of plans for this year. I know that I'm all over the place and it's overwhelming. If it's easier for you to just donate to our foundation that works too!  I plan to distribute funds this year to several organizations, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, St. Jude and Cincinnati Children's Hospital. So, if I'm wearing you all out with my donation requests, just donate to our foundation here and I'll take care of it!  But, please take a minute to VOTE for the Xavier Gives Back grant so we can receive $5,000 to help some local families!   I love you all and I know you guys get tired of my requests, but I will never stop.  It's all for the babies.  I just hope to make Maya proud and I will always Live Like Maya!!

Here is Mike's note:

Hello friends, family, supporters- 
 
Here is your formal invitation to join me in Memphis for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend on December 5th, 2020. 
 
I spent this  last weekend at St. Jude in Memphis. I felt an overwhelming need to do more for the kids. When I walked the halls of the hospital Maya was on my mind and heart.  We need to fight cancer harder. We need to save 100% of these kids. 80% sounds good until your child is in the other 20%. My heart is heavy and I can’t fight the tears or feelings inside me to do more. 
 
If you’re interested in doing more too, I started a team. It’s called Team Live Like Maya. I would love to have you join. 
 
Registration just opened two days ago. The higher fundraising levels that come with more benefits will likely sell out this coming week. The top level comes with a two-night hotel stay. The fundraising commitment is $3,000. I can help you with that if you run. You could also select a lower level starting at $500. Don't let the fundraising scare you, remember  I can and WILL help!! Running for the kids is powerful. Running into the St. Jude campus is life-changing! You can also walk! 
 
Early bird registration will close at the end of tis month then not open back up until May. So register now :).  Let me know if you have any questions. No pressure at all, but I would love to have you join! 
 
Link to register: 
 

 

If you don’t want to run, can you support me by donating here: http://heroes.stjude.org/InHonorOfMaya

 
For Maya,
 
Mike

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Three. Three Thanksgivings without our girl.  Hard to believe this is our 3rd Thanksgiving without her.  It doesn't get any easier.  In fact, it seems to get harder.  The fog has lifted.  Reality has set in.  It's hard.

But we plow forward.  Trying to do good in her memory.  This is the only thing that brings us comfort and gets us out of bed in the mornings.  We hope to make her proud. 💙

We hit our $50,000 mark for St. Jude.  In fact we surpassed it.  Thank you all for everything this year.  We are already hard at work planning some pretty cool stuff for next year that will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and St. Jude.  There are many ways for you all to become involved with our fundraising next year.  We will be looking for sponsors, partners, and if any of Maya's friends, or any young people for that matter, would like to get involved, I'd love to have "ambassadors" for the foundation to help us with some fun volunteering and fundraising activities.  Here are more ways you can help: https://livelikemaya.org/how-you-can-help.html

The book sales have been fantastic!  We were the #1 new book release on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!  I was interviewed about Maya, the foundation, and the book last week.  To watch it visit here. Very thankful to WLWT for featuring us on your Inspiring Cincinnati segment.  Thank you to all who have ordered the books. Several have purchased books for local libraries and the Ronald McDonald house. So wonderful!  All proceeds from the sales of the book benefit our foundation!

Also, we are now excited to be members of the Kroger Community Rewards Program and Amazon Smile.  A percentage of your sales at Kroger can benefit our foundation when you use your reward card. It's easy to enroll, visit www.Kroger.com and once logged into your Kroger account click on "Community Rewards" in the menu on the left side of your screen, search for The Live Like Maya Foundation by name or QU521 and then click "Enroll". New users will need to create an account which requires some basic information, a valid email address and a rewards card. It's easy to do!

For Amazon Smile, simply log into https://smile.amazon.com/ and select our foundation as the beneficiary and 5% of all of your Amazon purchases will benefit the Live Like Maya Foundation. Just remember that every time you shop you have to make sure it's through Amazon Smile so I have it bookmarked so it's easy to pull up when I shop.

Tuesday is the Day of Giving. I have been working with Cincinnati Children's Child Life department to form an Amazon Smile wish list.  If you'd like to purchase some much needed items for the hospital this holiday season, click here.  And as always, if you'd like to donate directly to our foundation we are always so appreciative.  https://livelikemaya.org/donate.html I'm in the process of writing as many hand written thank you notes as possible for all the generous donations this year. I know I won't be able to address everyone, but please know that each and every one of you are so incredibly appreciated!!

Beginning December 1st, we'd like to start our 25 Days of Kindness again.  For each day in December, please complete a Random Act of Kindness in Maya's honor. If you'd like to use our Kindness Cards and need more, please email me your address at LiveLikeMaya@gmail.com and I'll pop them in the mail to you!  

Phew, I think that's it. For now. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and hug those you love. Please also keep the families who have lost a loved one or are keeping vigil with a loved one in the hospital in your hearts and prayers this holiday season. 💙

#LiveLikeMaya 💙
#MayaStrong 💙

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

So I have two big announcements to make! The first is that we have almost reached our $50K goal for St. Jude!  We are currently only $789 away from our goal!  Whooo hooo!  I committed to raising this amount for St. Jude in in the beginning of the year, before I even knew that we'd be forming a foundation in Maya's honor.  I've been determined to get there.  It's been a lot of work, but with the support of many amazing volunteers and donations from all of you we are almost there!  If you have it in your heart to donate towards our goal to fill our gap please donate to my page here:  http://walkrun.stjude.org/LiveLikeMaya Thank you for your continued support! I will never be able to fully express my gratitude!

We attended the St. Jude Day of Remembrance ceremony a few weeks ago, and while it was incredibly hard, it was also wonderful to visit with staff from the hospital and other patient families who had become our second family while we resided there.  We visited all our old haunts and Maya was everywhere.  I feel so close to her when we are there.  So many memories.  Lots of them are sad, but many are wonderful.  They just come flooding back.  It's hard to believe she's not there with us, chattering about and giggling as we push her around in her wheelchair.  But I know in my heart that even though she's not with us in the physical presence, I can feel her spiritually. And that gives me great comfort.

The second amazing news that I must share is that we have a published book about Maya and it's currently the #1 New Release on Amazon!!  OMG!! So, my dear friend, Robin Patrick, who I worked with many moons ago, was absolutely devastated with Maya's passing and literally holed herself up in her office for an entire week and proceeded to write and illustrate the most beautiful book about Maya.  She presented the book files to me right before Maya's funeral.  The book is incredibly beautiful.  I've been sitting on the files, not entirely sure what to do with them as I have ZERO publishing experience.  I finally took the dive into the world of self-publishing and was able to upload the book to Ingram a few weeks ago.  It's live now and I'm so proud of how it turned out!!  Thank you Robin!! All net proceeds from the sale of the book benefit The Live Like Maya Foundation.  To order your book from Amazon please visit:  https://www.amazon.com/Maya-Magnificent-Robin-L-Patrick/dp/0578601168/ref=zg_bsnr_3125_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=92ZV3S08DQZNC2TR92Q7

It can also be purchased at Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/maya-the-magnificent-robin-l-patrick/1134544212?ean=9780578601168

If you order the book, please write a review for us and give it stars!  This helps us to boost sales! 

Thank you all for your continued support. Several of you have hosted fundraisers for us this year and we are so grateful!  Speaking of fundraisers, we have a Kendra Scott Live Like Maya Foundation fundraiser at Liberty on Saturday, the 9th, from 1-4 PM if anyone would like to get a kick start on your holiday shopping!  We will have a signature Maya inspired piece there for purchase and for every $70-$100 spent is an entry into a raffle for a free piece. Anyone that spends $350+, will be able to create a free piece of their choice at the Color Bar!  Stop by and have a treat and say hello! :-)

Lots of great stuff on the horizon for our foundation next year so stay tuned!  Love you all!  

#LiveLikeMaya
#MayaStrong
#MayaTheMagnificent

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Two Years without you.  😢 Your friends are growing up... dating, driving, homecoming, prom.  Justin Bieber and Imagine Dragons are writing new songs that you should be dancing to, and singing along with, out the window in the car at the top of your lungs.  Vacations without you.  Holidays without you. Birthdays without you.  And the world just keeps spinning.  It's hard to imagine a lifetime without you. It's just not right.  The world is missing a shining star. The world is vastly dimmer without your bright light.  

If you want to help brighten our family's day just a tiny bit, please donate to the Live Like Maya Foundation. And in Maya's honor today, please do a random act of kindness.  If you have her cards, please pass a few along today with an act of kindness and ask that the recipient pay it forward. Let's make the world a tiny bit brighter in her memory today.

"Fly high Maya The Magnificent.  Free of pain and suffering.  Hang your head out the window and catch the breeze in your hair.  Laugh at the birds.  Dance with the angels.  I can't wait to see you someday, twirling and pirouetting with your angel friends in Heaven.  I will wait for that moment with every breath that I take.  Until then my sweet one...


Maya Grace Collins
9/12/03 - 10/3/17

I love you.
I love you more.
I love you MOST
I LOVE YOU TO INFINITY!"

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Good morning!  First of all I want to thank each and every one of you for your donations on Maya's birthday. We surpassed the 1/2 mark of our $50,000 fundraising goal for St. Jude and we received a TON of donations to our foundation!!  We also collected 40 units of blood!  Amazing!  I am going to try to thank each of you individually over time, but there were so many I'm not sure I'll get to everyone but PLEASE know how grateful we are!!  THANK YOU!  

I just wanted to share some upcoming fundraisers and events that are right around the corner.

The Live Like Maya Foundation T-shirt Fundraiser is live!  There are several styles to choose from and all proceeds go to the Live Like Maya Foundation.  Designed by yours truly in honor of our superhero. 😍 To purchase a shirt click here.  

This Saturday is the Cincinnati St. Jude 5K Run/Walk.  It is at Smale Park on the riverfront downtown. Please join our team and walk with us.  Also, we are still collecting donations for our team through November. The weather looks like it is going to be gorgeous.  Here is the link to our team: http://walkrun.stjude.org/LiveLikeMayaHere is the link to the schedule for the day (scroll down).  I have 3 St. Jude mommas arriving from New York, Texas and NC to walk with us. Please join us and meet these precious mommas who lost their babies too.  😢 

After the 5K we will be having lunch at Pies and Pints at the Banks.  Pies & Pints will donate 20% of all food and non-beverage sales back to St. Jude for lunch on Saturday (location at the Banks only)! All dine-in and carry out orders apply. You must present the flyer at time of sale, can bring in a hard copy or show on phone/tablet.  I'll post the flyer in the photos below.  

Ladies night Bingo event, October 5th.  It's going to be sooo much fun.  I'm getting so excited!  Doors open at 6 PM but games won't start until 7:30ish so for those who have homecoming that night you should be fine. 2 drink tickets and hors d'oeuvre buffet along with coffee/dessert bar is included with your ticket purchase. We've got some beautiful authentic designer bags for prizes from Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors, along with some other great prizes.  Get your tickets here:  https://deewieyebingo.eventbrite.com . We are still collecting items for raffles/auction items for this event.  Also, if you have tickets to a play or performance that you can't attend and would like to donate we'd love them. If you sell jewelry we have something fun that we are collecting jewelry donations for. Please email me at LiveLikeMaya@gmail.com

I think that's it for now! THANK YOU ALL for your continuous support of our foundation and #LiveLikeMaya




Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Happy birthday Maya.  We miss you more than words can ever express. I can't lie, I'm feeling a mixture of things these past few days.  Sadness, incredible sadness, but I'm also a little bitter.  Thinking that you are not getting your drivers license or picking out dresses for homecoming.  All the things that you should be doing but instead I'm stuck talking to your urn.  It's B.S.  Pediatric cancer is B.S.!!  I have this morbid thought that goes through my head when I'm feeling angry.  You all know those t-shirts that say, "My parents went to Hawaii and all I got was this stupid t-shirt"?  I want to print a shirt that says, "My daughter was diagnosed with pediatric cancer and all I got was this urn". 😡   But my anger fuels my fire to work harder to cure pediatric cancer. So I push on and I work tirelessly to do so.  I'm exhausted, but the work that I do is "bandaids for my soul" and in some small way helps me to heal, although I'll never be fully healed. 😔 

It is pediatric cancer awareness month. Fittingly, it is also Maya's birthday and it is also the month that Maya had two bone marrow transplants. AND I'm so proud to say that The Live Like Maya Foundation is now an official 501(c)(3)!  So exciting!!  We have so many incredible things in the works to fund research for better treatment options and cures for pediatric cancer, to financially help families dealing with pediatric cancer and to spread kindness and goodwill in Maya's memory!

We've already hosted several fundraisers this year.  On Monday we hosted the Wine and Dine Night for the Kids of St. Jude at Clyborne restaurant here in Mason. Thank you to Scott Schmidt for an incredible 5-course meal (he added an additional meal at the last minute) and wine pairings.  We sold out but unfortunately had 4 no-shows. Scott was kind enough to make up the difference and we raised $3750!  Amazing!! Our Bingo night in honor of Maya was also sold out.  Another incredible night! 

In honor of Maya's 16th birthday I ask all of you to make a $16 donation to either our foundation or our team for the Cincinnati St. Jude Run/Walk 5K.  I've committed to raising $50K this year for St. Jude.  Please also consider joining our team.  It will be a gorgeous event, on the riverfront this year, with a Kid's Fun Run afterwards with superheroes and princesses.  Lot's of family friendly activities & food trucks.  Also I will have 4 mommas from St. Jude flying and driving in to spend the weekend with me and one of them will be speaking about her precious son, Dylan.  It will be a beautiful and inspirational event.  I can't wait for all of these incredible cancer mommas to meet my village!! 😍 

The link to donate to our foundation is: https://livelikemaya.org/donate.html
The link to join our team and/or donate to our St. Jude team is:  http://walkrun.stjude.org/LiveLikeMaya

Also, from 11 AM today to 5 PM this evening we are hosting a blood drive at Sonder Brewing here in Mason. There are still spots to sign up!  Go here to make an appointment:  https://donateblood.uc.edu/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/35768  And afterwards, at around 5 PM, we will be celebrating Maya's birthday with cake and a toast in her honor. Even if you can't donate blood, please stop by for the celebration afterwards and be sure to enjoy a glass of the "Givin' on a Prayer" beer, where 10% of all sales this month of this beer will go to the Live Like Maya Foundation.  Also, on September 17th, 20% of all sales of the Givin' on a Prayer beer that day will go to our foundation. Tom and I will be there from happy hour on, so please stop by and have a beer (or two) with us on the 17th as well! 

Anna's dear friend, Kaya, will be handing out Maya's kindness cards with candy at school today.  Amazing.  She and Anna's precious roommate, Morgan, decorated Anna's room today.  What incredible friends Anna has.  Speaking of Anna, she is loving college and made a 99% on her first anatomy quiz!  We are so proud of her!!  She will be joining us today at the brewery to celebrate Maya so please give her a hug and some extra love today if you see her.  

And I have to throw in a plug for our final fundraiser for the year. We are going out with a bang with this event.  It's going to be seriously awesome!  If you are from Mason, and have a child going to homecoming, the games won't start until around 7:30 (doors open at 6 PM) so come after photos!  It's going to be a blast!  Here are the details:  https://deewieyebingo.eventbrite.com

So, on this day of Maya's birthday, please show a little extra kindness.  If you have a kindness card of Maya's, please share it with someone along with an act of kindness.  But even if you don't have her cards, just do good today in Maya's memory.  And consider a $16 donation to one of the links I posted above.  Thank you all for your continuous support and please keep Maya in your thoughts as you go about your day today.  I've posted a sweet video of her below.  It was right when we had arrived at St. Jude and before she started treatments. She was so alive and vibrant.  My heart hearts to watch it, but I'm thankful for the memories I have.  #MayaStrong #LiveLikeMaya

Journal entry by Bonnie Collins

Hello friends!  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. We have been busy traveling... a Mediterranean cruise last month (Anna's graduation gift) and a trip to visit my parents in Hilton Head last week. We brought our exchange student from Spain, Daniela, with us to the beach. It was nice for Anna to have a friend in tow since Hilton Head has always been a special place where Anna and Maya enjoyed precious sister time. Our family has fond memories of our Hilton Head family adventures and it's definitely bittersweet going back.  Everywhere we go we feel Maya's presence. Blue skies, rainbows and dragonflies.  Even in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea!  A blue dragonfly and a ladybug, two stow-aways hanging out directly in front of us on the ship's deck!  We are constantly receiving Maya's sweet signs from above.  I recently gave a speech at a winery in Chillicothe and as I was speaking a rainbow appeared over the venue.  How cool is that?! 😇 

Tom and I will be empty nesters soon. Anna heads off to Xavier University in August to begin her nursing studies.  Luckily it's only about 25 minutes away from home so I will be able to see her often, but it's still breaking my heart that our house will be empty soon.  Too soon.  We should not be empty nesters yet. 😢 Maya's friends are all maturing into gorgeous young women (and handsome young men).  They are driving, going to prom... dating.  While I love to watch them grow up it is also hard.  I often try to imagine what Maya might look like if she hadn't ever been afflicted with cancer.  She was so beautiful.  My towhead with blue eyes.  Would she look more like Tom or like me?  I close my eyes and try to envision her.  A radiant light. 

While we all travel and enjoy our freedom this summer I ask that you keep the families who are stuck in their hospital rooms, staring out the window and dreaming of their summer adventures, in mind.  Two friends of ours, young women who have just graduated college and were starting the the next phase of their lives, have relapsed.  News like this takes my breath away and fuels my fire to work harder to take cancer down!  I'm sure I drive most of you crazy with my constant posts on social media about fundraising but it's the only thing that keeps me moving forward.  I have to do this for my girl.  I can't let her death be in vain.  I have to turn it into something positive.  If I can help to fund a cure or a better treatment option for just ONE child, I will have done my job and Maya's death will maybe have some sort of meaning... or validation? I don't know. So, please bear with me. It's bandaids for the soul. 

I have taken the summer off of fundraising to prepare for several upcoming events. We have a lot going on August - October. I'm super excited about it.   It is my hope that each and every one of you could attend at least one event, or if you are out of town and unable to attend maybe you could contribute an auction or raffle item?  More on that later...

Our foundation is taking off and I can't wait to be able to start funding pediatric cancer research and to help families who are in the trenches battling this horrible disease.  To be honest I've been floundering a bit.  Fundraising and feeding $$ to St. Jude has been therapeutic for me, but I want to be able to really hone in on cancer, blood cancers specifically.  I honestly wasn't planning on creating a foundation, but it just sort of "happened".  And while I'm excited about it, I've been sort of spinning my wheels, not sure how to move forward with it.  Until recently... when I was put into contact with Julie Guillot (thank you Virgina Gardner for introducing us).  Julie is a fellow cancer mom and bad-ass cancer fighter. She lost her son, Zach, to AML right after his 3rd transplant.  Her story is so similar to mine.  After hearing about what she is working on and talking to her over the phone I've grown more and more excited about what she is working on and more and more driven to make a difference.  Julie has been working with several prestigious institutions, doctors, researchers and organizations (including Cincinnati Children's, St. Jude and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)  to launch the largest, most comprehensive and methodical disease biology study ever conducted in pediatric cancer, and in acute myeloid leukemia.  Her initiative, called "Target Pediatric AML (TpAML)" aims to uncover new therapeutic targets, which will be mapped to all existing/emerging targeted agents and inform development of new treatments.  TpAML also seeks to provide genomic testing to all active patients to identify existing, novel agents that could benefit these patients and the data can also inform findings of clinical trials to enable more personalized treatment regimens in the future.  To learn more about Julie and what she is working on I encourage you watch this video from Good Morning America with Robin Roberts: https://www.facebook.com/robinroberts/videos/1161756440653015/?v=1161756440653015
(If you're not on Facebook you can go here and scroll down to episode 9: https://www.thriverthursday.com/new-index

To hear Julie speak is like my brain speaking through her.  Every frustration she has is my frustration.  Whatever she is passionate about I feel the same passion for.  I found myself says, "YES! YES!!"  during the entire 30 minute conversation I had with her!!  I truly feel that we are put in the pathway of others for a reason, and I feel strongly that Maya has led me to Julie. That said, Julie is coordinating a "meeting of the minds" in Atlanta in September between all the key players for this initiative.  She has asked me to round up my posse of strong pediatric cancer fighting advocates to attend this meeting. She didn't need to convince me!  I'm there in a heartbeat! 

So this brings me back to fundraising.  All of this exciting research needs funding and I'm committed to helping. As I said earlier, we have several fundraising events in the works: 

Maya's 2nd Annual Bingo Night
Our first event is Maya's 2nd Annual Bingo Night on August 25th.  For those of you who are new here, Maya loved playing Bingo at the Target House, the apartments where we resided at St. Jude.  Once a month all the patients and their families would gather in the cafeteria to play Bingo.  Despite how badly Maya often felt, she would ask me to wheel her down in her wheelchair to play... sometimes even holding a barf bag in her lap. 😢  When she won she loved to ponder over the table of prizes and was always very selective in what she picked out.  During one particular game she picked out the biggest, ugliest grey wallet and was so excited to gift it to me.  To this day I still carry that huge, ugly wallet and I'll cherish it forever.  I even have to carry a big purse to fit that big wallet inside! 😳  So, if any of you ever see me pulling a big, ugly, grey wallet out of my bag, you now know the story of the wallet that Maya won for me at Bingo, that will always be the most beautiful wallet to me.😍 

Here are the details and where you can purchase tickets to our 2nd Annual Bingo Night in Maya's honor: https://mayabingo.eventbrite.com

And if you can't make it to the event, or even if you can, would you consider purchasing an item from our wish list to donate as a Bingo prize?  Any items that are not won will be distributed to The Dragonfly Foundation and Cincinnati Children's Hospital child life department.

Here is the link to the wish list: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/A6EXFMQNWG69?ref_=wl_share  

We are also collecting $25 gift cards for prizes.  We are looking for Amazon, Target, Graeters, Walmart, any local restaurant or grocery store (Kroger/Whole Foods). Any type of card that would make a good Bingo prize!  If you can contribute a gift card(s) please mail to:  4801 Appaloosa Trail, Mason, OH . 45040.  Or contact me at bcdesign@cinci.rr.com and I'll pick up if you live close!

Sonders Brewing Givin' on a Prayer Fundraiser and Maya's Birthday Blood Drive
During the entire month of September, Sonder Brewing in Mason will be honoring Maya as their Givin' on a Prayer monthly non-profit. September is a special month for our family. It is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, it's Maya's birthday month, it's the month that Maya received 2 life saving bone marrow transplants, it's the month of the St. Jude 5 K run/walk in Cincinnati and it's the last full month that she was alive. 💙💔 It's a hard month for our family and while I don't look forward to it, I am grateful that we have a few events that will make it a little brighter. On Maya's birthday, September 12th, as part of Sonder's Givin' on a Prayer event, we will be hosting a blood drive and party at the brewery. Please join us in celebrating Maya's life by donating the gift of life. And then join us for cake afterwards.

10% of the sales for Givin' on a Prayer beer sales will be donated to the Live Like Maya Foundation during the entire month of September. On September 17 Sonders will host a special give back night where 20% of the beer sales for the Givin' on a Prayer beer will be donated to the Foundation. Stay tuned for more info, but in the meantime please sign up to donate blood on her birthday!
The link to register to donate blood is: https://hoxworth.org/groups/maya.html

The sales for Givin' on a Prayer beer sales will be donated to the Live Like Maya Foundation during the entire month of September. 

2nd Annual Wine and Dine Night for the kids of St. Jude
Join us on September 9th, at S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision & Spirits for a private 4-course meal with wine pairings prepared exclusively for this event. If you haven't eaten at this restaurant before you are missing out! The event last year was amazing. The food and wine was on point.  Scott Schmidt, Sommelier and Owner of S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision & Spirits, will discuss each dish and wine pairing.  Please join us to raise our glass to Maya and find cures and better treatments for pediatric cancer!  To reserve your spot go to: https://stjudewinedine.eventbrite.com

St. Jude Cincinnati 5K Run/Walk
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our 5K run/walk that is fast approaching!  I'm so excited to announce that several of my St. Jude momma friends will be walking at my side this year!  Cloie who lost Maya's beloved Dylan is flying in from North Carolina (and hopefully sharing Dylan's story at the event). Sarah, who lost her precious angel, Austyn, will be flying in from Texas. Chandra, who lost sweet Hannah, will be driving in with her new gorgeous baby from New York, and I'm hoping Tabitha will also be able to make it. She is momma to the fearless C.J., who is living and breathing proof every day that St. Jude is curing babies!!  I would love to have the biggest team ever this year to give these precious mommas a warm Cincinnati welcome!  And if any nurses or other cancer mommas or friends would like to join us in Cincinnati (hint hint... you know who you are! 😉 ), the more the merrier!! Please come!  We will make room at our house (we are empty nesters now so we have room 😢).  Here is the link to sign up to our team and or donate!  http://walkrun.stjude.org/LiveLikeMaya


Thank you all for bearing with me and supporting me as I try to find my way and figure out the best course of action to make a difference. I truly couldn't do it without you all.  We are all making Maya proud.  We are changing the world!!  Thank you all!!  #MayaStrong #LiveLikeMaya

Journal entry by Dawn Berryman

Hi Everyone,

Here is the latest update on Maya. 

Last night Bonnie & Tom learned that Maya has a high risk factor version of AML called monosomy 7.  Basically, it means that she is missing a chromosome.  This risk factor does make it more difficult to treat.  Because of this finding, the current plan is for Maya to receive 2 rounds of chemotherapy treatment (to begin Thursday) that will last approximately 2 months.  The hope is that she will then be in remission.  At that time she will most likely receive a bone marrow transplant.  They will look to Anna first as Maya's best option.  But it is very possible, still, that they will need to look to the national bone marrow registry for a match.  This is not the news they were hoping for, but they remain hopeful that with lots of love, positive thoughts and prayers Maya is going to take this challenge head on and beat it!  We told her to look at Lance Armstrong.  The man was given less than a 10% chance of survival and yet he beat his cancer and went on to win 7 Tour de Frances...not too shabby!!!  I wonder how Maya will amaze us when she grows up:-)!

In the next few days, there will be a link posted to this sight for you to look at and sign up for meal preparations and hospital visits.  There will be specific details to help you know what they like/dislike and how to prepare and deliver it so that they can enjoy it at home or the hospital.  As for visits, we are trying to make sure that Bonnie has visitors on a regular basis who can either sit with her and chat, take her out while Maya is at the hospital or sit with Maya while Bonnie runs out...basically whatever she needs during that particular day and time (remembering that it can always change, because hospitals and cancer treatments are not predictable).

Also, we will be organizing a bone marrow registry drive.  Our goal is to get EVERYONE on this list and more to get swabbed to be a potential bone marrow donor.  You may not be Maya's lifesaver, but wouldn't it be cool to be someone's?!?!?!  There will be more details to come on this, but it will most likely be sometime in May.

Bonnie & Tom are feeling overwhelmed about so many things right now, but your sentiments of positive thoughts and prayers are a good overwhelming thing and will help them get through this one day at at time, so keep them coming!
Maya’s Story

Site created on April 11, 2011

Hello!  Welcome to my website!  My name is Maya Collins.  I am 12 years old and I have been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).  I had a bone marrow transplant on September 1st, 2011 and my cancer went into remission but we found out in May 2012 that I had relapsed.  I had my second bone marrow transplant on August 3, 2012.  All was wonderful for 4 years!  I went back to dance classes, horseback riding and made straight A's in school!  I was able to enjoy life to the fullest until the end of June 2016 when unfortunately we discovered that I had relapsed again.  So, I enter the battle for a 3rd time, but I'm strong and fully recovered from my treatments 4 years ago so I'm ready to kick cancer to the curb once and for all!   Please follow my journey.  It's going to be a long, hard road, but with the love, prayers and support of my family and friends I know I can do it!  


We are currently at St. Jude in Memphis while she is recovering from her 3rd bone marrow  transplant.  Here is our mailing address:

Maya Collins - PATIENT
1811 Poplar Ave.
Target House 2, Apt. #319
Memphis, TN  38104


Bonnie's email address:  bcdesign@cinci.rr.com



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