Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Layla Grace

It is with tears filling my eyes that I write this post. This is a situation that has been in my heart for many months and I have chosen up to this point to keep it personal. It is today that I feel led to share this journey and it is with the support and permission of the people involved that I make this public.

Where to start? Back in the summer of 2008 I began working and communicating with a mom and fellow business owner Shanna. She was inspired by her precious daughter, Layla Grace to start a fun website called Baby Wears Prada. Shanna became a fan of RuffleButts and Layla could not have been cuter in her little ruffles. In May of 2009, I received an email from Shanna that would touch me deeper than I ever knew possible, by someone that I had never actually met in person. This email shared the shocking and devastating news that Layla Grace had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. She went on to tell me that this is one of the hardest form of cancers to treat and came with a 30% survival rate. I just knew in my heart that Layla would beat this, she would be in that 30%!! It was then that Layla began the fight of her life.

Shanna has shared her journey in touching and inspirational posts at www.LaylaGrace.org. It is often that her writing reminds me to truly treasure every moment of motherhood. Shanna is an incredibly brave woman and it is quite evident that she has raised an amazingly strong little lady with a very fitting middle name. I can't even begin to share here the battle that Layla has been fighting for many, many months. This precious child has gone through more than any one of us could even imagine, and she is still a smiling little joy. Layla has touched more lives through her story and her smile than most of us could dream in our 30+ years. I can honestly say, she has changed not only my life, but also my daughter's, as I will not take a single moment for granted. I give Aubrey an extra hug every night because of Layla Grace. That is a gift that can not be repaid.

A few weeks back, I read the post that I never saw coming. After all of this suffering and fighting, the cancer had continued to spread. It had taken over, and Layla's fight would soon end. I was devastated, questioning everything, angry, saddened. It just didn't make sense that Layla would have to go through all of this, that Shanna and her family would have to go through all of this. Then, I quickly returned to my faith. Layla's life held more meaning in the short years that she spent here on Earth, than I can ever hope for mine. The cancer may appear to have won this battle, but it did not. Layla is victorious and more so than any of us can know at this point in time. Miracles happen every day, and Layla is still with us today, but the reality is that the doctors gave her less than a week last week. She continues to prove them wrong, maybe so she can touch just a few more thousand lives in these days. Layla will be in a glorious place with her Maker in the days to come.

The reason that I made the decision to share this story is because I need you behind us. After much prayer, we have made a personal and professional decision to get involved. Although money is probably far down the list of Shanna's concerns at the moment, I know that her family is facing costs that most of us will never know. I would like to hope that if I were in Shanna's place, that our friends and family would rally with me in support. I do not understand God's journey for Shanna or Layla, but I do know that it is His plan. I also know that it is His plan to use us to help in any way we can. I am so incredibly blessed to do what I love every day and to make a living from it. It was my commitment from day one to share the blessings of RuffleButts with those in need. I can not think of a better cause.

So, here's where you come in...I know we are all facing our own personal financial situations and not everyone is in a position to give, so we had an idea. We are going to give for you!! If you want to help, but don't have the extra cash, you can still give. Mark and I have committed our own personal amount to Layla Grace, but we are going to add $1 to that amount for every "fan" you refer to us FaceBook.com/RuffleButts through Friday, March 5th. So, you want to give $100 to Layla Grace, just send out an invitation to your 100 friends, and once they join our RuffleButts Page as a "fan" that is $100 to the pot. Want to give $500...ask your friends to send out the request to their friends...it's that easy! The money will be going directly to the bank in Layla's name, which is tied to her medical account. We will give up to $5000, in addition to our own personal commitment. We currently have 1216 fans, so keep your eyes on our page to see your generous work paying off! If you would like to give additional funds or prefer to give directly, you can go to LaylaGrace.org and click the "donate" button on the right side of the page. The FaceBook idea is a little outside-the-box, but we would like to give you the opportunity to experience the joy of giving without the financial strain.

This is the first time that I have turned to the friends and family of RuffleButts in a fundraiser for someone else, but I feel very led to do this. I hope you have read this with an open heart, and will think of Layla this week when your kids are wearing you down. Little Layla, you are in our thoughts and prayers every single day. You are a miracle in more ways than one!

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