Hey everyone! I hope all my friends out there are doing well: I decided to take a little break from the blog after the awesomeness that was the 3forCHD Project…but now I’m back! So you might be wondering – how did the 3forCHD Project go? I have to say it was fantastic, inspiring, moving, exciting, and all sorts of other great adjectives. People all over the world participated and shared on social media and on our Facebook event page and it was just really touching to see how people were joining together to do some good in their world. People bought food for others, shoveled snow, made cookies…it was just incredible. I also wanted to share a little bit about how it went for my family:
We kicked off early as my oldest son Hudson was really excited and wanted to set up a free drawing station at the 7th Street Public Market in Charlotte. It’s a busy place where people can come and get food from all sorts of different vendors and it’s a place we love to go. So Hudson set up shop and made drawings that he gave away to people to bring smiles:
He did a really nice job and I was really proud of him for being so kind and for helping share information about his little brother’s CHD.
A couple days later while in the drive-thru for Dunkin Donuts, I decided to pay for the couple behind me – they got the hook up:
Hudson was at it again as we both volunteered at a friend’s church for a program they have called Room at the Inn: they bring in homeless people from a local shelter and give them a home-cooked meal, showers, a warm bed, and a roof over their heads for the evening. Hudson is really passionate about helping the homeless, which is amazing for a 6 year old. He worked really hard setting up beds and helping serve food:
Finally, Hudson brought some chocolates to his teacher:
One of the activities I did was to volunteer for a few hours at one of my favorite organizations called Bright Blessings. They provide birthdays for homeless kids in the Charlotte area, and it’s since expanded into providing snacks at schools for kids who may not have them, toiletries, and even baby supplies for new moms who don’t have resources:
I spent most of my time prepping goodie bags for the birthday parties and then moved to packing snack boxes that would go to the local schools:
I can’t say enough about how much I love what this organization is doing!
Our family continued to do some other kind acts together, like giving chocolates to our mail carrier and bringing donuts to our local firefighters. The kids especially loved that part…sorry, I didn’t get pictures for that one!
Next, I was off to volunteer at an organization here in Charlotte called Project 658. They provide resources and support for our refugee community. It’s easy to see why this population needs a lot of help, especially lately. My task for the day was to assist with their free store, where clients received credits each month so they can come “buy” clothes. It encourages them to learn budgeting and some responsibility:
I spent the time sorting clothes and hanging them up and chatting with shoppers…I found it was a great way to help them with their English, since many of them were in ESL classes as well. There was also a sewing class going on in the back, which was very cool to watch.
My final kind act for the 3forCHD Project just might be the one that had the greatest overall impact on me personally. I collected some food items to donate to a local Mosque’s food pantry: when I was corresponding via email with the Imam, I also asked if I could just spend some time chatting with him and learning about his faith. He readily agreed to have me visit. I’m not a Muslim and what I know of the faith is really just the few things I learned at school, so it was a very cool experience to go to a mosque – I’d never been to one before – and learn. Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming and made me feel very comfortable. The Imam gave me a crash course in Islam before inviting me to observe their prayers. As I sat in the back of the room, I felt very privileged to get the chance to be there and watch all this happen. I got to see all these people – from different backgrounds, different races – standing shoulder to shoulder and praying together. It was peaceful and very moving: I was so glad to get the chance. Afterward I chatted with the Imam some more and someone brought me some Pakistani tea, which was AMAZING. I’m not a tea drinker but this stuff was fantastic. But aside from the tea, it was such a great experience:
Around the time I did this, there was a lot going on in the media with the travel ban and a lot of fear of Muslims. I wanted to do this to show people in my community that our Muslim friends are just like us: nothing to be afraid of. In fact, lots of Christian churches could stand to learn from the kindness I was shown at that mosque. I firmly believe that we need to build bridges, not walls!
Overall, the 3 for CHD Project was a really great success: we got to do kind things for others while spreading the word about CHDs. I truly believe it has an impact and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Are you with me?
And if you didn’t get to participate this year, don’t worry: don’t relegate kindness to one week in the year. Make the 3forCHD Project a living thing that goes on and on and on! Keep being kind, never stop!
So you’ve been going about your week and somewhere along the way you received an act of kindness and this flier…
That means you received an act of kindness as part of the 3forCHD Project! February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week and around the world people are doing 3 acts of kindness in order to raise awareness.
I really appreciate you taking the time to visit this blog and learn about my son Nolan’s story, which is just an example of what many kids with CHDs go through. I encourage you to take a little bit of time and read through the posts on here.
Since it’s CHD Awareness Week, I want to also provide some opportunities for you to help spread the word:
- Tell others about those facts that are on the back of your card. CHDs are the most common birth defect. There is no cure.
- Make some noise! You can write to your mayor, governor, city council, or even local lawmaker to tell them about the act of kindness you received and that you want to make them aware of Congenital Heart Defects! The reality is that we still don’t know the cause of CHDs and it’s going to take a lot of research and money to find that out. Call, write, and email to your representative and ask them to support Congenital Heart Defect research.
- Learn more facts! The Pediatric Congenital Heart Association has a great CHD fact sheet: read it here.
- Send your prayers and kind thoughts: there are lots of kids like Nolan out there who need all the prayers and positive thoughts they can get. They are going through lots of scary things and so are their families. They can use your support, even if they don’t know you’re sending it!
- Support a cause, if you wish. There are two great ways to support organizations that help kids with congenital heart defects. The first is Levine Children’s Hospital, where most local heart kids receive their life-saving care. If you ever want to donate to them you can do so here. Another great organization close to our heart is Camp LUCK, which provides support for kids and families as well as a medically-supervised overnight camp for kids with CHDs. They do AMAZING work and you can learn more about them here.
- Continue to follow Nolan’s story. I update this blog pretty regularly and also try to post pictures and videos on his Facebook page. Nolan is one tough kid and he has been through so much and is full of lots of love and laughs. He will be going in for his third open-heart surgery this spring: if you could send him some love through kind messages in the comments section on this blog or on Facebook, that would be awesome!
Thanks again for taking the time to visit. I hope you’ve learned something about CHDs today and I hope you know that not only is it important to me, but it affects thousands of kids and families across the country. You can keep making a difference by helping us make people more aware.
I also hope that the 3forCHD project encourages you to go do your own acts of kindness: imagine what a difference we could make!
You guys, I am super excited about this post because I get to announce a really awesome opportunity to spread CHD Awareness. So about 3 years ago I did something called the 32for32 project, where I did 32 acts of kindness for my 32nd birthday in order to raise CHD Awareness. The following year I was able to do some lobbying for CHD research in Washington, DC, which was amazing. Last year I did 10 acts of kindness in 10 locations in the area and when you looked at them on a map it made the shape of a heart. Each of those projects gave me a really great chance to teach people about CHDs while doing some great things for people in need in my community. Over time I’m heard from people who were inspired by this and wanted to be a part of it somehow…well here is your chance!
I’m happy to announce the 3forCHD project!
During this year’s CHD Awareness Week, February 7-14, I want to unite heart families and friends all around the world and encourage them to do three acts of kindness in an effort to educate people about congenital heart defects and hopefully play a part in finding a cure.
Three. That’s it.
Three things: that can be feeding the homeless, volunteering at a nonprofit, bringing treats back to the staff at the children’s hospital where your heart warrior got their care. It can be anything! It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter where you live. All I’m asking is for all of you to join me during that week to make a real difference in people’s lives. Imagine if 100 of us do this: that’s 300 acts of kindness…300 real, tangible ways for us to help people in need! That’s AMAZING!
So I need you to step up and do this with me, I need you to be excited about this with me: I want you to share this with your friends and family. Invite them along: maybe partner with other families where you live and do something awesome together. Whatever it is, I know that together we will make a big impact!
I’ve made a Facebook event page where you can “join” the event (keep in mind you’ll be doing all these activities right where you live) and post pictures, videos, and stories of your acts of kindness using the hashtag #3forCHD. You can use the same hashtag to share throughout all of social media leading up to and during the event. Let’s take this thing worldwide!
I’ve also made up this handout for you to use:
Print some out and give them out when you do your 3 acts of kindness. Once Feb 7th hits, I will add a “sticky” post to the top of my blog that will welcome anyone who has received this handout and is brave enough to come here to this blog. It’ll have more information about CHDs and what they can do to continue being involved. It’ll remain there for a couple weeks after the event, too.
Will this require some money? Maybe. Will this require your time? Yes. But what we need – most of all – is your heart. I believe that if we give back, with all our hearts, we will create a movement where people know about CHDs and will help us make enough noise to increase funding for research and one day find the cure.
So I have just one more question for you…
WHO’S WITH ME?