Wow! So much has happened since my last blog and I am so excited. I am finally finished (at least for the remainder of the school year) with my ACTs and have more time available to focus on fundraising.
The most exciting event to occur over the past couple of months is that Donald Liebenson, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, called me to interview me regarding the Mr. I Children's Charity. I can't lie, I was very nervous to talk to him, but once we began talking, I was fine. Moreover, on April 14, 2016, the article was published online, and last week, it was in newspapers around Chicagoland! Since it was published, we've received interest from organizations from all over the country requesting information on how their organizations can help Mr. I raise money to deliver bears to their local children's hospitals, as well as from specific organizations interested in receiving bears for their pediatric clients! This was my goal...to help grow Mr. I and find ways to help children all over the country feel safe and happy while undergoing scary or nerve-wracking medical tests and procedures. Now, the goal is to find ways to continue to raise money so that we can keep supplying the bears to hospitals near my home and throughout the country.
I was also interviewed last week by a writer for Medical Dealer Magazine. He is writing an article about "paying it forward" and I hope that will spread the word about Mr. I in the medical community.
In order to continue fundraising, I have created a board consisting of my close friends. The response, when I asked them if they would be interested in contributing their time and energy to fundraising, was overwhelming and very heart-warming. I have the greatest friends and they gathered at my house to brainstorm ways we can raise money and bring awareness to our community about what Mr. I does and what it is. We are hoping to have a car wash this spring and then a flag football event in the fall. Additionally, my mom and I (and I think my board) will be interviewed this Sunday by WDHS, my high school's TV station. Hopefully, these efforts will not only bring awareness to Mr. I, but will also raise money for more bears. If anyone reads this and would like to raise money for Mr. I, feel free to contact me through email.
Also, we are going to join Lurie's Circle of Friends and be linked to their facebook page, as well as Comer's "Give to Medicine" and their Facebook page. I hope that doing so will help bring awareness to organizations and supporters of those hospitals who are looking for ways to help create better lives for sick children.
Most importantly, Lurie, Comer, Evanston and Lake Forest's patients love their Mr. I Bears. I have received emails and letters from all of the hospitals saying how much joy the bears are bringing to the children in their hospitals, and that makes all of this SO worth it!!!!
I will write more soon, but if you read this and think of ways that you or we can raise more money to continue donating bears, I am always open to suggestions! Thanks again for all of your support!!!!
Very excited to be partnering with the Child Life Program at North Shore Evanston Hospital! So grateful that Kia Beickert, the Child Life Director, is so enthusiastic about partnering with Mr. I. I was greeted today by interns Michelle Mattero and Deanna Cadena who were so excited and complimentary about the Teddy bears and said how much they will help the kids in the Child Life Program. Look forward to more deliveries.
I am so excited that the Mr. I Children's Charity is up and running. It took some time to get here, but I am very proud of what has been accomplished so far, and I look forward to posting many more exciting achievements and information about what's been going on. I founded the Mr. I Children's Charity to help kids going through rough or scary medical procedures. Mr. I provides them with a friend who can comfort them.
I am so grateful to GUND, the stuffed animal company who I've partnered with, for helping me find the perfect bear to represent Mr. I. GUND has been so supportive and enthusiastic about supporting this endeavor and I am so excited to work with them.
I would also like to thank all of my friends and family, and friends of friends for being so supportive. This holiday season, I received over $4,000 in donations to help me purchase more bears so that I can continuing delivering them to children's hospitals, as well as spread Mr. I's reach to other children's hospitals. I am so excited to currently be partnering with the Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago. Both have been so enthusiastic about Mr. I and I am so grateful for their interest and energy in this project.
Over Thanksgiving, I delivered Mr. I Bears to Lurie. Justyna Griffin. the Activities and Donations Coordinator has been so receptive and terrific to work with, and told me that this first delivery would go directly to the MRI unit, as that is where the idea for Mr. I began when I was a patient there. Also, just this past week I delivered bears to Comer Children's Hospital where Erica Luciano, a Child Life Assistant, received the bears. She couldn't help but smile and squeeze one when she saw them. They are so lovable and soft--just the perfect size for a hug and security. I was so surprised when she mentioned that often the donations they receive are the only items to be found in the children's rooms during their stay. This statement not only opened my eyes to the fact that not every sick child is surrounded by gifts and warmth when in the hospital, but also reinforced that Mr. I can make a difference. I am so glad that I am working with two fabulous hospitals. I also hope to expand Mr. I's reach as this charity grows.
I will continue to blog about Mr. I's events and activities as they come up. Please also feel free to visit the Mr. I Facebook page for any information, and "like" it as well. Thank you all again for so much support. I am SO excited about the Mr. I Children's Charity!