Today is Donna Day.
You may already know what that means, or this may be the first time you’ve heard of it. If you don’t know who Donna is, then you have a LOT of reading to catch up on. Since we don’t have time for that right now, I’ll give you the short version of the story.
Donna was a beautiful, “brightful” little girl. She was the daughter of Mary Tyler Mom and Mary Tyler Dad. Donna was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor called a papillary meningioma when she was only 20 months old . During the following 31 months, she went through 4 surgeries, 2 rounds of chemo, a stem cell transplant, relapses, infections, and proton beam radiation. Despite all of that, she still smiled, laughed, danced, and brought joy to all who knew her.
I wish I had truly known her.
Her little body had finally had enough, and on October 19, 2009, Donna died in bed with her mom and dad by her side. She was only 4 years old.
Sheila and Jeremy took their grief and created some incredibly good things.
They started a charity called Donna’s Good Things to “provide joyful opportunities for children facing adversity.”
In January 2011, Sheila started a blog called Mary Tyler Mom where she wrote about rejoining the work force after a 4 year hiatus, and of course, she wrote about Donna. In September of 2011, she wrote Donna’s Cancer Story. Each day she wrote a different post. Each post represented one month of Donna’s treatment. And each day, more and more people were reading about Donna. Their hearts were opening up and weeping for this endearing girl and her family that they’d never even met.
Every day in September, I read those posts and I cried. I cursed in anger. I cried with joy. I wept with sorrow. Yet, every day I returned to Mary Tyler Mom’s blog and read more, knowing full well how the story ended. I’d read it with the hope that somehow I was mistaken and that there would be a storybook ending for Donna and Mary Tyler Family.
But as we all know, life isn’t like a storybook. Life can be downright cruel sometimes. Despite all that was done for Donna while she was in treatment, there should have been more to do. She should be here today. Her wonderful parents shouldn’t be minus the light of their little girl in their lives. But they are, and so are the parents and families of countless other children who die from pediatric cancer each year.
Here are some stats:
- More US children will die from cancer than any other disease, or many other diseases combined;
- Before the age of 20, 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will be diagnosed with cancer;
- worldwide, a child is diagnosed every three minutes;
- the cure rate for the most common form of pediatric cancer, ALL leukemia, is as high as 90%, but most other childhood cancers do not have that success rate, e.g., brain tumors have a 50/50 cure rate, and some, like DIPG, are known to be fatal with no known treatment or cure;
- 73% of kids who survive their cancer will have chronic health problems as a result of their treatment and 42% will suffer severe or life-threatening conditions like secondary cancers.
- The federal government via the National Cancer Institute spends only 4% of its budget on pediatric cancer.
These numbers are unacceptable, and that’s where charitable organizations come into play. Because our government does not see it fit to provide more funding to help treat and cure America’s children, that responsibility rests on us. You and me.
Last year, my husband and I participated in the first ever Donna’s Good Things St. Baldrick’s shaving event. St Baldrick’s is the largest private (non-government) provider of childhood cancer research grants in the US. So you know that when you make a donation to St. Baldrick’s, your money is going to support exactly that; childhood cancer research.
Last year, about 6 weeks before the event, Mary Tyler mom decided to declare February 14th Donna Day. A bunch of us bloggers wrote about Donna’s story and pediatric cancer to spread the word about the upcoming event and to raise money. If you’d like to read my Donna Day post from last year, click here.
Because of that day, and because of that St. Baldrick’s event, we far exceeded our goal of $20K! Because of all the amazing shavees, volunteers, contributors, and supporters, Donna’s Good Things was able to raise an incredible $79K for St. Baldrick’s Foundation!
Which brings us to today. Donna Day 2013.
On March 30th, Donna’s Good Things is teaming up with St. Baldrick’s again for another fantastic shaving event! I won’t be shaving this year, but the hubby and I do plan on being there in Chicago to help and to support this year’s shavees!
Now, all of this is great, but what we really need; what St. Baldrick’s needs, is MONEY. None of that life-saving research can be done without it. The whole point of my post today is to put a face to childhood cancer. To open people’s eyes up to the harsh reality of childhood cancer funding. And to ask you to help make a difference.
The goal is set this year at $30K. As I write this, we are already more than a third of the way to that goal at $10, 526.00, but we still have a long way to go and we need your help to reach that goal. Every penny counts. I promise. Lots of people donate just a few bucks.
Also, if you’re brave enough, there’s still time to be a shavee! I LOVED having my head shaved last year! It was the most wonderfully rewarding thing I have ever done, and the thought of it now still brings tears to my eyes! Heck, I’m told there is an 89 year old woman shaving this year! Surely YOU can step up and be a hero! It’s hair, folks. It grows back; people don’t. But, if being bald isn’t your cup of tea, money works.
Please take a few minutes to watch this video:
Then, open your hearts and your pocketbooks and give whatever you can. You can make your donation to Team Donna’s Good things here. Click on the GREEN donate button. It’s easy and only takes a couple minutes.
I don’t wanna beg, but I will if I have to. Please help fill the gaps in childhood cancer research funding by making as generous a donation as you can. And if you plan on being in Chicago on March 30th, stop by and cheer for the brave men and women shaving their heads for childhood cancer! I’ll be there with my hubby!
Together, with St. Baldricks’ and Donna’s Good Things, and with HOPE in our hearts, we can create more storybook endings for more families.
Let’s do this.