So grateful for the people that take a moment out of their time to help spread the word about Brave Gowns so we can put these amazing children in gowns that give them hope and strength!
Starlight Children’s Foundation Launches Starlight Brave Gowns Program to Revolutionize Children’s Hospital Gowns
We've been working with the Starlight Foundation since July to figure out how we could best partner and put Brave Gowns on children fast and furiously! I am so proud of all that we've accomplished in such a short time! Go Starlight Brave Gowns!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Starlight Children’s Foundation Launches Starlight Brave Gowns Program
to Revolutionize Children’s Hospital Gowns
Michaels provides ten inaugural gown designs and donates first 10,000 gowns as program launch partner
LOS ANGELES (November 21, 2016) --- Starlight Children’s Foundation today announced the launch of a major new program, Starlight Brave Gowns, with program partner Michaels, North America’s largest arts and crafts specialty retailer. Starlight Brave Gowns are made of high-quality, comfortable fabric and feature brightly colored, creative designs that will revolutionize children’s hospital gowns and help sick kids feel like superstars. Michaels is providing ten inaugural designs and donating 10,000 gowns to launch the new program from Starlight whose mission is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families.
“Being a sick kid stuck in the hospital is tough, and having to wear a thin, drab hospital gown that blows open in the back makes the experience even worse,” said Chris Helfrich, Starlight CEO. “Starlight Brave Gowns are fun to wear and make a sick kid feel good, inside and out. Our goal is to bring laughter, fun and joy to sick children by delivering millions of these gowns to children’s hospitals and other facilities across the United States. For just $25, anyone can donate a Starlight Brave Gown.”
Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician, author and member of the Starlight Board of Directors, praised the program: “When kids are comfortable in the hospital, they literally feel better. Starlight Brave Gowns combine super soft fabric and awesome prints. They are the best hospital innovation I have seen in years.”
"We are proud to continue our partnership with Starlight and to take this next step with them in their important work of brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families," said Michaels CEO Chuck Rubin. “Our mission has always been to inspire and enable creativity and it is our hope that our gowns will not only inspire but uplift these brave patients and their families.”
“We are so grateful to Michaels for getting behind the Starlight Brave Gowns program to revolutionize children’s hospital gowns as we know them and put smiles on the faces of millions of sick children,” said Helfrich. “Michaels is in a class of their own in terms of putting charity at the forefront of their mission.”
Originally conceived by entrepreneur and philanthropist Summer Germann to honor her 10-year-old brother who passed away from pediatric cancer in 2002, Starlight Brave Gowns are made for boys and girls ages 2 through 12. Made in the USA, the gowns are manufactured to meet strict hospital infection and safety protocols, and are specially designed to allow for easy access to heart monitors as well as IVs on both sleeves. Additional gown designs, including seasonal options, will be unveiled throughout 2017 and beyond.
To view and download photos of children wearing three Starlight Brave Gown designs, please click here. Learn more and donate a Starlight Brave Gown for $25 to a seriously ill child at www.starlight.org.
About Starlight Children’s Foundation
Starlight’s mission is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families by turning pain, fear and stress into laughter, fun and joy – because a sick kid is still a kid at heart. Founded in 1982 by Peter Samuelson and Emma Samms, Starlight has helped more than 60 million sick children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK by providing programs that offer the best in entertainment, education and innovative technology. Steven Spielberg serves as the organization’s Chairman Emeritus. Learn more at www.starlight.org and follow Starlight on Instagram and Facebook at /StarlightChildrensFoundation and on Twitter @StarlightUS.
About The Michaels Companies, Inc.
The Michaels Companies, Inc. is North America's largest specialty provider of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall décor, and seasonal merchandise for the hobbyist and do-it-yourself home decorator. As of July 30, 2016, the Company owned and operated 1,356 stores in 49 states and Canada under the brands Michaels, Aaron Brothers, and Pat Catan's. The Michaels Companies, Inc., also owns Artistree, a manufacturer of high quality custom and specialty framing merchandise, and Darice, a premier wholesale distributor in the craft, gift and decor industry. The Michaels Companies, Inc. produces a number of exclusive private brands including Recollections®, Studio Decor™, Bead Landing®, Creatology®, Ashland®, Celebrate It®, Art Minds®, Artist's Loft®, Craft Smart®, Loops & Threads®, Make Market®, Foamies®, LockerLookz®, and Sticky Sticks®. Learn more about Michaels at www.michaels.com.
Christopher de Haan
Starlight Children’s Foundation
“If you have to be in the hospital on Halloween, you miss out on the trick-or-treating,” said a child life specialist. “It would be nice for them to get to dress up and forget about their illness. With Brave Gowns, every patient gets the opportunity to transform into the superhero, princess or character of their dreams."
I'm not sure that we could ask for much more than that! Please sponsor a gown today and if you already have, please share away!!! Also, don't forget to type in GO MAC in the coupon code box to sponsor the gown for only $26! Thank you! www.bravegowns.com
Great News! In honor of this huge Chicago push for Childhood Cancer Awareness month and Mac going to heaven at 10 years-old, we have a matching donor that will donate $10 towards every Brave Gown sponsored for the rest of September! So here's your chance to sponsor a Brave Gown for only $26! All you have to do is type in the code GO MAC at checkout! This is so amazing and such a great way to make a difference at Lurie's Children's Hospital just before Halloween, which is also the day that Mac was diagnosed!
Here are just a few of our friends that have been and/or are still currently being treated by the amazing staff at Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago:
Including my little brother, Mac!
I just found two amazing quotes to kick-off this last week and last major push for me personally and I can't decide which one I love more. You be the judge!
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale
Let's make once last difference together! IF you can't don't, please share! Every 100 shares = a Give-A-Gown and goes directly to a child currently in the hospital! THANK YOU and don't forget to type in:GO MAC
I opened a drawer today that I open every day and out of no where, this picture was right on top. I've held on to it all day as staring in his eyes was a little over whelming for me. This picture embodies his spirit though, because if he could, he always walked Chad and I out to the elevator if he could (IV pole, monitors and all) regardless of how bad he felt. I also had to laugh:
1. Because if you can see the note on the pole it is reads "Please, Please, Please" give Mac a Popsicle when flushing out his lines. When the clean PIC and IV lines known as a flush, Mac swore you could taste it and if you didn't give him a Popsicle when you were flushing them he just plain old swore at you...
2. Under the yellow hospital gown, which should now be replaced with Brave Gowns, are his motocross pants & sweatshirt which was so Mac. When he was home from a stint the the hospital, infection was very high. He was supposed to rest. Mac ended up taking his dirt bike out through the trails, hit a jump, went about 10 feet in the air, fell and got up laughing with his chest port lines in all with Rider on his bicycle behind him....A day in the life of Childhood Cancer...
Give A Gown Today For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! All gowns will be going directly to Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago on behalf of Mac and all the children battling illnesses. We currently know way too many children being treated there! xo
There are so many wonderful moments that I could share, and I will, but I seem to do everything in life backwards, so it only seems natural to start at the end of the story and then over time, work my way back.
You see, there is so much goodness in pediatric cancer. The nurses, doctors, child life, foundations and even the food service workers and janitors go to extremes to make you forget that you are scared to your core and in a hospital filled with bed after bed and floor after floor of children. Every time I enter a children's hospital, I lose my breathe. It's a reality that so many of us are lucky enough to never have had to experience and even though I did, as a sister, it feels like a lifetime ago.
Today I am choosing to share a story that has been weighing on me all week. It's not something I speak of often, but last week I was asked by a doctor how Mac died and it took me right back to that moment...
It was November 27th, 2002. Mac had just spent weeks in PICU (the pediatric intensive care unit) due to graph vs host. The graph vs host was due to his STEM Cell Transplant. Even though the STEM Cell's were the best match possible, they're foreign cells entering a body, so your body does everything it can to fight it off. They put patients on medicine so that your body, hopefully, accepts it willingly, but if that doesn't happen the side effects are unlike anything I've ever seen. We were told night after night that Mac wasn't going to make it and I was pretty sure there were a couple nights that I didn't think he would nor did I think we would. There were so many moments where I know we all stopped breathing. How is it humanly possible to look at a child you love so much going through all this, without feeling as though you are too? Well, it's not. We lived in constant faith and fear, but the adrenaline of it all kept smiles on our faces and playing games so Mac wouldn't see how scared we really were. Back to that fateful day...
Miraculously, Mac, was cancer free and going home! I had went to the hospital the night before. My mom and I had packed up his room both in the hospital and at the Kohl's House so they could just hop in the car the next day and drive to my house. I've always been known to have premonitions and deja vu, but I didn't listen to my gut that night. I didn't want to leave the hospital at all, but there was a snow storm coming in, I was five months pregnant and I had a five year-old at home two hours away, so it seemed logical to beat the storm and head home. Mac was going to be home tomorrow any ways, so I'd see him then.
It was the following morning, the 27th. I had just gotten out of the shower, because I had sterilized aka cleaned the house so it would be nice and fresh when they arrived home from the hospital. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were so excited that they were going to be home! My mother in-law pulled in my driveway and asked why I wasn't answering my phone. I told her I was in the shower and asked why? She said that I needed to get to the hospital asap. I told her I'm sure it was fine and that I'd call them. We'd been through this so much in the past month that it wasn't really registering for me. I checked my voicemail's and there were messages from nurses saying to come now. The hospital was at least an hour and a half away, but my husband was working towards the city. I called him and repeated what I was told. He had missed so much work in those past few months, so he said, "I'm on my way but I swear if they're just doubting him again, I'm going to lose it." It was completely understandable. None of us doubted Mac. He had been given a 1% chance of beating the cancer and here he was a year later cancer-free, so the words often got old. You got to the point where you would think, "Ya, ya. I hear your statistics, but let me show you the spirit of a child and not only any child, but Mac's will." I told him to call me when he got there and I'd be behind shortly.
Naively, I dried my hair and got dressed not knowing when I'd be home next, because I figured we'd be there a few nights. Well, my husband never called me on that drive in and I didn't think to much of it, but the minute I exited the elevator and stepped onto 4 West, I saw why. Mac had already been discharged that day, but had to wrap up dialysis, something he'd be on three times a week for an unforeseen amount of time, but once he was done, my mom and Mac would be in the car on their way home for the holidays. What they don't tell you is that the dialysis machines are set up for adult bodies and then adjusted to work for children. Every time Mac was on dialysis his body went into cardiac arrest. We would just be sitting there talking or watching tv and then you'd hear the monitors go crazy. We'd then be thrown out of the room, while they were trying to resuscitate Mac. The first time it happened I remember standing in the hall, watching through the glass just screaming help. I was 26 years-old old at the time and scared to my core. I just kept thinking, "No, no, no this can't be happening, Mac!!!!!" Then, it was over and everything would go back to our new normal. Well, the morning of the 27th, was a bit different.
Mac was ten and all boy, the the morning of the 27th while getting set up for dialysis, Mac asked my mom to lay in bed with him and hold his hand. My mom was exhausted from the past few weeks, which I could only imagine to be a parents living hell, and crawled in bed next to him. Knowing that their was going to be so much activity and people in and out of our house for the holidays and to see, Mac, the over the next few days they quietly held hands and peacefully fell asleep together. I can't speak for my mom, but from the stories I've heard, my mom awoke to all the beeping of a Code Red. Mac was in full cardiac. They were trying to save him. My mom ended up running out the door, out of the hospital and right across the street looking for help from the head of dialysis and then ran back to the hospital. In that moment, Mac was having an embolism which cut of his oxygen supply. Not knowing any of this had happened, I walked off that elevator giving my normal smile and greeting to the welcome desk, but no one smiled back.
As I turned the corner to his room, his dialysis nurse dropped at my feet sobbing and said, "Summer, my head knows I did the right thing, but my heart doesn't." I told her that this was Mac and I'm sure it'll all be fine. From what I hear, she took a leave of absence that day as these are not just patients to the nurses, they become family. I was not prepared for what I was about to walk in to. My mom was by the window holding Mac's hand. Mac's head was turned towards her and I couldn't see his face. My husband sat by Mac's other leg with his head down. Mac was making a noise unlike anything I've ever heard, but a noise I will now never forget. I hung my coat (yes, still in denial) and asked if he was joking with that noise. I would have been that surprised. Mac was funny. His doctor, was their and said, "No, but Mac's been waiting for you." I walked over and saw his eyes closed, his face not of my brother who was full of life, smiles, defiance and practical jokes, but of a body, a shell of who he once was." My mom gave me his hand. I talked to him and then asked his doctors instantly how long this could go on for. I couldn't take one moment of this, more or less days. They said it was up to Mac, he was comfortable, but they were pretty sure he was just waiting for me. Then it happened. A "Mac Move" like no other, his final joke to make us all laugh. It will sound demented when I write it, but if you were there and saw how lifeless he was, you'd know it was his last hurrah to me. He took a breath and blew blood out of his nose all over my face and shirt. We all started to laugh as I dry-heaved. He knew I had a weak stomach and being pregnant wasn't helping. He went to heaven just moments later at a time when we thought he'd be in the car listening to Shaggy, and heading home for the holidays...
*This was not Mac's final prank for me even though we thought it would be. God's always winking, so I've learned...
Want to learn more about sponsoring a Brave Gown for a child currently on our waiting list? Look for our Give-A-Gown link! www.bravegowns.com
It took me longer than expected and I pulled up right on time, not what I originally hoped for. Thankfully God & the universe had my back, because you see that white car right there? Well, that car was pulling away right as I was pulling up and not only was it the only spot on the block, it was also the closest spot (on the street) to the entrance. It was especially helpful due to the heaviness of the box of Brave Gowns, which leads me to the box...
This here box was filled with the 200 Brave Gowns. It's a heavy little box. I made it about four steps from my car to that bench when I started to see stars because I didn't have it gripped correctly. I regrouped, took a deep breath and hustled to the next bench about 75 feet away.
The next bench happened to be right by the entrance and I made it! It might not have been graceful, but I got there and that's when I saw said sign behind the bench which read "valet!" I'm thinking they would have let me pull up and unload the box there had I known...
Then I went inside, but there was about a 10 family wait to be able to speak with the information booth, so set the box off to the side and got in line. That's I looked over and happened to see this...
I laughed out loud! I mean, look how much Brave Gowns were already helping children and they weren't even out of the box yet!
The lady checked me in and I went to grab the box! That's when a nice women offered me a wagon! She was a lifesaver...literally! She was a nurse...
Up, up and away we go! Sixth floor, here we come!
I can't even begin to tell you how much I love the doctor that is doing the trial. She's a tough, but gentle woman from Milwaukee, which made me even more fond of her. She could have easily have been a long lost aunt and runs the Pre & Post Op. Fun little fact here...For Pre & Post Op, they have to provide two gowns to each patient. One to cover the front and one to cover the patients back to have access to both. However, Brave Gowns eliminate this problem and the patients can move around comfortably in only one BRAVE GOWN! Well, back to the doctor, it just so happened that she felt the same way about the box as I did, so we took all the gowns out of the box and spread them all over her room so the nurses could come grab them as the pleased!
I gave here a hug, which actually might have scared her a bit, and I was on my way crying with gratitude. By the time I got to my car, I already had and email with the image below from the doctor saying "the nurses loved them so much that they wanted to wear the gowns too!"
(mind you they're not the right size ;)
How adorable are they?
Did I mention that she even made me take the empty box? Told you I loved her!
So, I pulled away from the hospital and had talk radio on. Ok, I actually still had Joel Osteen on from the ride in and out of no where, it switched to jazz. It was so out of the blue that I Iooked down and the radio and there it was...
It's our thing. Mac was watching. He was proud. He was letting me know it's all going to be ok! I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and for once...I exhaled, but then I quickly opened my eyes because I realized I was driving!
It was the first day in a year and a half that I realized I might actually get to finally change my toe nail polish color. It's called "Eternal Optimist" and I can't change it until there's a huge movement for Brave Gowns, because I swear it's brought me the most luck ever! Every time I try to wear something else, I lose my mojo, I swear...
Thank you all for being on this journey with me! It's been such a gift...
Now watch out, it's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month & we have some work to do!
Kindly & Blessed,
Give-A-Gown Today! www.bravegowns.com
So it’s me, Summer! I’ve been sitting here staring at the computer for a good five hours. I promised myself that I wouldn’t take a shower until I get this blog up. Well, I'm pretty darn greasy and I have to get to the post office to send out packages so I'm finally wearing myself down. I've answered emails, drank two cups of coffee, brought in the garbage cans, organized my daughter's school supplies, turned on a motivational tape and put a hat on, so I'm running out of distractions. I am so excited to get this message out, but I want it to be perfect and I actually want it to be a video, but I cry when I make videos and this girl has no time to cry today!
You see, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm allowed to hit my goals for Brave Gowns without being embarrassed or ashamed. When I usually hit goals, I get quite and overwhelmed. Too much goodness in the world is hard for me to bear. I feel it physically in my bones. It's paralyzing. Somewhere along the line, I learned to handle pain easier than it was to handle achievements. Because of this, I probably made some poor business choices, but you will never meet someone that listens to her gut like I do. The instant that something doesn't feel right to me, it's like I was sucker punched in the stomach and I run. It's saved me from a lot of poor decisions and anytime I tried to fight it, I regretted it with all my might, because my gut was always right.
For a year you would never have heard me talk about Brave Gowns out loud. I felt like it was something so much better than I and I wasn't worthy of being the source behind it. Then recently something just switched. I get emails, texts and calls from families every single darn day updating me on how their kids are doing. What the test results were, how the surgeries went, their MRI results, the actual images of their bone scans, etc...God picked me, because a Brave Gown isn't just a product, it is a gift of hope, a sign of someone out in the world saying, "we can't even imagine what you're going through, but we wanted to show you support from our family to yours." I was given the gift to bring Brave Gowns into the wold, because I lived it. I was in the hospital with my family at times when we thought my brother wasn't going to make it through the night. We lived through moments where we were told to say goodbye and then he lived for months and became cancer-free. We lived through multiple moments where we'd be sitting there laughing and then he'd go into cardiac and before you know it, I'd be thrown into a hall with doctors and nurses running past me and watching them revive my brother and then life would resume to be "normal" again. There is a smell that sticks with you that you never forget. Once in awhile it still hits me and I drop straight to my knees and remember how scary, yet wonderful life once was. So I do not just selling a product, I make sure that I am in contact with the families of every child that wears a Brave Gown. I know their names, the illnesses, the important dates coming up for them and their families phone numbers. I get texted when they get results and when they come back with wonderful news, we celebrate together. When scarier news comes, I provide any and all words of encouragement and offer prayers, because that is all I can be in that moment. Through their families I get a moment to be there again, with one more shot at a happy ending.
Next month, I have the opportunity to partner with an organization that is already in every children's hospital. They work closely with the child-life in the hospitals and has their own corporate and private sponsors that will be able to do what was always my end goal "PUT A BRAVE GOWN ON EVERY CHILD BATTLING AN ILLNESS!" I will still own and run Brave Gowns, but the Give-A-Gown program will be ran by them. I will still be able to "give gowns" but it will be through their "Give-A-Gown" program, so Happy Ditto would be a sponsor as well. Ironically, if we move forward together, the launch would be on Halloween. The exact date that my brother was diagnosed and the exact date where I painted his face as a zombie and triggered the thought of Brave Gowns! It's so amazing how the universe works and if you trust the process and have faith it works out exactly as it was meant to be. I can't wait to be able to sit down some day and tell the real story of Brave Gowns and all the miracles I've witnessed first hand!
With that said, I want to finish what I started and know that we finished what we set out to do! We are still 500 gowns short for St Jude. I know that we can hit this goal! I am asking that one last time you can give $36 to provide a gown for a child at St. Jude. That together we can hand this off knowing we hit our goals and that we started something that the next group is going to have huge shoes to fill and that we can say one more time, "Hey Mac, look what we did, Buddy. We did good, Kid! We did good!"
I am forever grateful for all of your support! This is just another chapter in Brave Gowns journey!
The Brave Gowns video has been updated in the beginning and the end to show actual Brave Gowns with their new and amazing front and back designs! They just keep getting better and better!
We start another clinical trial with a children's hospital next week and are also very actively trying to raise 700 gowns for St Jude! If you can find it in your heart to sponsor a Gift-A-Gown for a child, whether it's your first time you or you have supported Brave Gowns since the get go and keep making these miracles happen now is a very crucial time. We have promised St Jude to have the gowns to them by the end of August! That's approximately $25,000 in less than a month that we have to raise! Even the smallest makes a huge difference. We are determined to bring happiness to these fighters at a time when all other children are excited to back to school, but these kids are still in the hospital fighting for their lives. It's the least we can do!
It's so easy to sponsor a gown! If you want to choose any monetary amount and receive a write-off you can go directly to www.happyditto.com.
Or if you want to sponsor the Gift-A-Gown you can click on the image below and pick the option of your choice! GIFT-A-GOWN
We've been spreading so much greatness and happiness! Please help us continue our journey!
Have you been wanting to sponsor a Give-A-Gown, but hadn't had a chance yet? Well everyone that sponsors a Give-A-Gown to a child currently battling a terminal illness will receive a Brave Gown Trucker Hat, so today is the perfect day to sponsor a gown! Make a child feel like a SUPERHERO today! www.bravegowns.com