As I’m sitting here writing this, today is April 30, 2018, just two days before the second anniversary of Ben’s death. Benjamin died on May 2, 2016 at about 11pm in Lurie Children’s PICU in Chicago. This sounds so trite, but I can’t believe it’s already been two years.
Year one of Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation is under our belts. I first announced it on social media on April 11, 2017. When I thought of the idea to start a foundation as a tribute to Ben, I wasn’t really sure how it would go – I just knew I wanted to be able to remember him, share him with others and offer support/gifts to families that are like ours was – all in Ben’s name.
We had a pretty successful first year:
- We gave toy gifts to 16 children through our partnerships with St Charles schools, Easter Seals and Marianjoy.
- We made donations to Chapelstreet Church Masterpiece Ministries.
- We assembled gift bags for kids in the PICU at Central Dupage Hospital.
- We sponsored a Toy Adapting Event with Kmart and Easter Seals where we gave toys to 8 children. And we participated in one other Adapt-a-Toy event through Marianjoy.
- We prepared dinner for families staying at Ronald McDonald House in Chicago.
- We had a pretty successful 1st Annual Bowl-A-Thon Event where St Charles Bowl was packed.
- AND .. I found a publisher that wanted to work with me to develop “Ben’s Adventures” children’s book, where a portion of sales will support Ben Smiles. It officially releases late May but is currently available for pre-order here: www.Bens-Adventures.com
The foundation and the book have given me a new purpose. My identity as his mom was to care for him and give him the best life possible. When he was now gone, what did that mean for me? Well, I have found a new purpose. I am driven to continue this work. I want to reach way more kids through the foundation. I want to still talk about him, show his photos and share his memories.
Thank you to those that have donated. Thank you to those that have offered support and kind comments. Thank you to all who have attended our events. Be well.
Recently, we gifted an Upsee to a young boy named Jacob. I had posted several times in various facebook groups about Benjamin and our foundation. One post in particular of a video of Ben in an Upsee prompted a local mom to reach out wanting to purchase one for another kid. She saw Ben’s smile and was moved by his smile and joy.
It turns out that she has a sister with Down Syndrome and would notice how meaningful people's gifts or acts were to her family growing up. She makes it a point to give back and do something good for someone regularly.
The Upsee definitely made Jacob smile. I can't take credit for the gift - but I'm thankful that my posts were in the right spot at the right time and that this mom saw them and responded.
So I looked at the calendar today and realized that Ben’s Bowl-A-Thon is just a short 3 weeks away, creating a little bit of panic. That’s okay. We’ve been blessed with many generous companies/people in the community donating to our raffle and auction. We have a fair number of registrations so far and I imagine many will decide to come as the date gets closer. It’ll be a fun event – featuring pizza, bowling, raffles, family, friends and face-painting!
If you don’t have your registration yet, please go ahead and do so – and don’t worry about bringing a bowling team of four! We have a few individuals that have registered so will be assembling teams as needed. Here’s the link: http://cffrv.gives/bowlathon
The complete list of raffle prizes includes:
- Synergy Kettlebell - two 3-month memberships
- Goldfish Swim School – one month free lessons
- Arcada concert tickets – passes for two on April 28
- Errand Up – 10 free deliveries
- St Charles Gymnastics Academy – 10 Open Gym Passes
- Bent Dog Yoga – two $25 gift cards for you and a friend PLUS two Bent Dog tanks
- Fun Republic – two day passes ($25 value)
- Kimmers – two $10 gift cards
- 41 North Chiropractic – new patient exam and three free sessons, plus oils and soap
- Tranquility spa - $100 gift card
- Epic Air – free jump passes, water bottle, value $45
- Juice Plus Basket – courtesy of Allison Earl
- Rodan & Fields gift bag – courtesy of Heather Tran
- Rodan & Fields gift bag – courtesy of Misty Feiza
- Nothing Bundt Cakes - Bowling theme cake
- Family Night Game Basket
- Fishers Peanuts Gift Basket
- St Charles Bowl Party Package
- Starbucks Gift Basket
- All Around Office Cleaning – two hours of residential cleaning
- Barnwood reclaimers – barnwood art
- Dot Dot Baby Smile by Justyna Carlson – little girl dress
- Sarah’s Fade N flow – haircut package and products
- Club Fusion Volleyball - $200 certificate for classes/clinic
In addition to the raffles, we also have a few generous donations for the silent auction featuring a wine tasting for 10 at Aspen Lane Winery (Aurora), family photo package from Jennifer Mock Photography, dinner cruise for four on Odyssey Cruises (Chicago), family photo package from Mode de Vie Photography and a kids karate party at National Karate (South Elgin).
Don’t hold off – go ahead and reserve your spot! Those that reserve prior to the event will get the official event t-shirt! Get your tickets here - http://cffrv.gives/bowlathon
I hope to see you there!