Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2005. We took Mattie to a park by the Chesapeake Bay, and there Peter was teaching Mattie how to skip stones in the water. Mattie was fascinated how Peter could do this, and though he did not get the hang of that technique, Mattie loved picking up the largest stones and tossing them right into the water.
Quote of the day: I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. ~ Unknown
I found this quote and it seems VERY appropriate given the success of tonight's fundraiser. I am what I am today (which is a president of a non-profit who raised close to $3000 in four hours tonight!), because I made the choice a long time ago to follow my hairdresser from salon to salon, until she and her husband opened up their own salon in Washington, DC. Certainly I could have remained at my original salon and been assigned a new stylist, but I sensed something very unique and special in Celina and her husband Eugenio (the owners of Molecule Salon). For me, everything is about the emotional connection I make with someone, and each time I would visit Celina, she made the experience peaceful, she understood what I wanted, and over the years, I learned from others her very charitable nature. I have nicknamed Celina the "Mexican Mother Teresa."
I still remember the day I told Celina and Eugenio that Mattie died. I went into the salon for a haircut, and the next thing I knew they insisted I have a special day, and whisked me in for nail service for free. Last year, Celina and her sisters, came to our annual Foundation Walk and painted the nails of girls of ALL ages. They did this for free in hopes of raising funds at the Walk. When Eugenio spoke to me this year about doing a fundraiser for Mattie Miracle, I was totally taken aback. Because typically if I want to raise money, the enormous efforts are coming from me. I am not used to someone telling me that they value our cause SO much, that they want to sign on to help, organize, plan, and execute an event! That is HUGE and leaves me in awe! You should know that Eugenio and Celina's commitment is not for just this year. They plan on making this an annual fundraiser. Beyond amazing, and tonight Peter and I met and connected with a completely new crowd of supporters. Which is how the Foundation will continue to grow!
Tonight's fundraiser was also sponsored by the Italians of DC (which is a cultural club and many of its members came tonight and were thrilled to hear that I am an Italian American), Assaggi (a wonderful Italian Restaurant, who donated all the food), Vapiano (a restaurant who donated all the drinks), and Voila (another DC salon).
The event ran from 7 to 10pm, and at 8:30pm, Peter and I gave a greeting to the crowd. I was miked for this, since it was being recorded. Typically I script out what I am going to say, and rehearse it. However, tonight, I worked off of NO script, and just tried to speak from the heart. After the event was over Eugenio came up to me and told me I am a powerful speaker. He said that when I speak, I am moving, and can move people to tears. He said in just a few minutes, I touched people's hearts and they were in complete silence (not unlike my audience at the Georgetown Awards ceremony, who didn't know what was hitting them that night). I suppose that is what Mattie can invoke within me. He and I were deeply close and in many ways, we were one in the same person, except for the differences in gender.
Celina and Eugenio had a professional photographer and videographer at the event, but I snapped a few pictures to share with you tonight. In fact, this photographer came to our Walk last year and took pictures for free and sent them to us. This photographic company would like to be involved in photographing our Walk again this year, and I am moved by their generosity with us.
Peter and I set up the front desk to look very "Mattie Miracle!" We gave supporters tonight pens, brochures, and beaded key chains. I also brought pictures of Mattie and had them dispersed throughout the salon. In tow with us was the credit card machine we rented, and thankfully a cash lock box that my friend Christine donated to the Foundation. I was beyond THRILLED to have that box tonight!
Along one of the salon's walls, I posted three informational posters. This was the first one!
The second display listed all of the Foundation Accomplishments! Not bad for an organization that is only two years old.
The third display, I LOVE! I created a Snapshot of our Foundation activities. Some times a picture speaks a thousand words.
Top row from left to right: 1) parent panel members at Symposium, 2) Walk from 2011, and 3) Georgetown Business School class that we worked with as their service learning requirement.
Middle row from left to right: 1) In June of 2011, we donated $25,000 and endowed the Mattie Miracle Child Life Program Fund, 2) Mattie Miracle at Build-A-Bear with Girl Scout Troop 3989, and 3) The snack cart Mattie Miracle help to contribute to at Georgetown University Hospital, which offers free snacks to inpatient families.
Last picture: A picture of Bows for Hope, which as my readers know is a non-profit started and run by Lauren Chelenza, a 14 year old Osteosarcoma cancer survivor. Lauren's mission is to raise money for Mattie Miracle through the sales of duct tape bows she creates.
Several Mattie Miracle faithful supporters were also at tonight's event. Pictured with me is my friend Maria (who also works diligently in our complexes leasing office and has been incredibly supportive of us over the years) and her dad, Joe. Maria introduced me to her dad and then during the night told me he is a pediatrician at Georgetown University Hospital, but here is the key, he specializes in immunology. Joe's name kept swirling around in my MIND all night. When I got home it hit me!!! Why did I know Joe??? Because when I was in college and was a biology major I used his textbook in my class!!! In fact, immunology was one of my favorite subjects, and one of the reasons was I loved the textbook, understood it, and was intrigued by the research and how it was presented. So I can't believe in the midst of this very powerful fundraiser, I met a man who I admired for years. I don't say that lightly, because typically I find textbooks dry and not memorable. Turns out Joe is Italian too, so this was a truly unexpected gift I received tonight. Too bad I did not make the connection when actually talking to him.
My other special treats tonight are all in this picture. Pictured with me are my friends, Heidi, Tim, and Phil. Heidi, as my faithful readers know, is my friend I met in zumba class. However, in all reality Heidi knew me before I knew her and has been a faithful blog reader for years! Heidi's husband is a Bostonian, so Peter and Phil are like two peas in a pod. As for Tim, though an administrator at Georgetown University Hospital, he comes to ALL of our events as our friend. Tim came to our Symposium last week, and in all honesty I did not expect to see him tonight. It was a sheer joy, and even Heidi and Tim know each other now, since they have seen each other at numerous Mattie Miracle events.
Pictured with Peter and I are Eugenio and Celina, the owners of Molecule Salon, and the hosts of tonight's event. These are two very humble individuals, who are motivated to do good for good itself, and not for the glory. A very rare trait these days.
One of the pictures I had on display of Mattie.
One of my favorite Mattie pictures while he was battling cancer. It was taken by Jenny (Mattie's art therapist) on Valentine's day! Our last Valentine's day together. The vase was used to collect raffle tickets. Celina and Eugenio secured four raffle items, which we raffled off tonight!
Peter and I came home tonight energized. We were energized to see complete strangers moved by our story and being in the presence of people like Celina and Eugenio does restore your faith in mankind. Despite all that they did for us tonight, Celina has yet again agreed to host a nail table at the Walk this year! So it is 1am, but I am still wide awake from tonight's excitement.