One of the things that I dislike most in life is to cry in front of people. I will do just about anything to avoid it. Which is what I was doing last week during a meeting for work. I was singing songs in my head trying to distract myself and keep from crying. I made it (thanks to Miley’s Party in the USA) but it was a close one.
Part of my job is to review potential sponsorships and to make recommendations on involvement. Over the years, I have met with many non-profits and organizations and the meetings are usually pretty similar. They tell us about the organization and what specifically they need. We tell them about our business and the type of community events that we like to sponsor. And we go from there.
A girl I work with set up this meeting, so I didn’t know a lot going in. I walk into the conference room and meet a nice looking couple in their sixties. I prepare myself for the usual pitch but as soon as the sweet man begins talking about his daughter I know that I’m done. He tells us all about his daughter Jennifer, who after battling leukemia for 14 years, died in 2001. She was 31.
He talks about her and how hard she fought and the stress of her treatment and my throat swells. He speaks about her final months and losing her as I fight tears with all my might. My thoughts stray imagining if this was my husband decades from now talking about his baby girl. Sing, Miley, sing.
"I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan welcome to the land of fame excess, am I gonna fit in?"
He tells us of the effect it had on his other two daughters and how hard the month of September is for all of them (Her birthday and the day she died are both in September). It's evident how wounded he and his wife both still are. He loves his daughter so much I can't help but miss my own dad. C'mon, Miley.
"Jumped in the cab, Here I am for the first time Look to the right and I see the Hollywood sign This is all so crazy Everybody seems so famous"
The mom doesn't say much and I imagine that it's because she can't. What mother could? Help me, Miley!"That's when the taxi man turned on the radio and a Jay Z song was on and the Jay Z song was on and the Jay Z song was on"
Like many bereaving parents, they channeled their grief into a foundation. The JL Foundation benefits families of leukemia patients in Louisiana. They tell us about the families they help and the effects leukemia has on a family emotionally and financially. When a patient is diagnosed and qualifies financially for their assistance, the wife calls the mother or father - usually counseling them for hours on what to expect. Then as the family travels to New Orleans, Memphis or elsewhere for treatment, the foundation reimburses them for food, gas, airfare -- alleviating one of many burdens.
What's different about their foundation is that they have donated 100% of every dollar they collected. Not a single dollar that has been donated has ever gone towards operating the foundation -- a rarity in the world of non-profits. Since Jennifer's death, they have supported Louisiana families battling Leukemia dispersing nearly $500,000.
I struggled through the meeting without shedding a tear thanks to my penchant for cheesy pop songs but I haven't been able to get this family off my mind.
They are a strong reminder that love for one's child transcends all things."So I put my hands up They’re playing my song, And the butterflys fly away I got my hands up, They’re playin my song I know im gonna be ok Yea, It's a party in the USA" - Miley Cyrus