Sunday September 22, 2013

Uff da... what a week we have had.  We are exhausted this morning, but satisfied with the week that was.  We returned home last night after our second fundraising gala in 5 days.  In between, we had two volleyball matches and Mayo HS homecoming parade and football game.  Team O'Hara has been on the move...

Last night's event was Humor to Fight the Tumor - a fundraiser for the American Brain Tumor Association.  Shannon was a posthumous honoree, and the video they produced about each of the 4 honorees - two who were there celebrating and two who had lost their battles - was very touching.  I'll share the link when it's made available on the HFT website.

Humor to Fight the Tumor
We were able to have both of Shannon's grandmas in attendance along with cousins Laurynn and Jack.  One of the toughest parts of the night was convincing Erin that we couldn't afford silent auction item #5:  a yellow lab puppy!

While last night's event was a success, the biggest event of the week for us took place on Wednesday.  The annual St. Jude Fall Festival of Hope gala in Minneapolis where we were the featured St. Jude family and were a big part of the program.  I spoke to a room of 600 people, and sent each and every one of them home with a copy of Determined to Matter.  We were surrounded by family and friends who have been with us on our journey, and it was a very special night for all of us.

I truly feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to share our story with these people who support St. Jude.  Often at these events, St. Jude focuses on the successes they have had.  There is an 80% cure rate now for pediatric cancers as opposed to 20% when St. Jude opened 50 years ago.  But, it is important for people to know that the work is not done.  Kids are still dying, and more research is needed.

I do believe this is what I am supposed to be doing.  Sharing our story, sharing Shannon.  People in that room were inspired by Shannon and it showed when it was time to give.  With a little help from my angel, we raised $311,000 for St. Jude in one night.  Amazing.

St. Jude Fall Festival of Hope
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Miss E here.  She handled herself with such grace and poise at these events.  Having complete strangers know the details of your life and want to engage with you is a lot to handle for anyone, much less a soon to be teenager.   Luckily, she is wise beyond her years, and is coping admirably with a set of circumstances that I wish she didn't have to endure.  That makes me happy and sad at the same time.

On the way home last night, Dan and I downloaded from our week, sharing our thoughts and feelings about all that had transpired.  We did some good this week, and that is our mission.  But, we also acknowledge that sharing Shannon's story makes us miss her so.  We look at images of Shannon and tell tales about her life and her spirit and it brings our loss front and center in our minds again.  Even 20 months after her death, that pain is still so difficult.  I think it always will be.   
So, we are home today, exhausted but satisfied.  Our week of Shannon events is behind us, and we are ready for a little normalcy.  This week, Dan will travel, Erin has two volleyball games, and I will start my writing class.  It's late September, it feels like fall, and time marches on...