To anyone who has ever attended one of our events you know I can never just simply say, “Thank you!” I’m always moved by so many people’s actions that I feel the urge to share. So, for those of you who like the short version . . . “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us raise funds to purchase many more wigs for breast cancer patients. Together we are making a difference!” And for those of you who like a story here is mine from our event.
This was our 3rd annual Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump! Wig Out event. We had very high hopes this year of taking our event to the next level so we could ensure the sustainability of our Wig Out program. We planned a lovely evening out on the patio with breathtaking views of the golf course and desert mountain views including fire dancers performing acts to illuminate the sky. We even called in Karma lighting to pinken up our dinner presentation. Our circus themed event was going to be amazing.
It was a few days before the event and I checked the weather.com site and the forecast read 30% rain. I’m a betting type of gal and overly optimistic and assumed this will change. Two days later I checked again, 60% chance. I didn’t lose all hope just yet till the next morning when I read 70%. And it didn’t just say chance of showers it said, “Rumbling thunder,” and ”downpour of sleet and heavy rain.” My heart sank. I had put in close to 300 hours in the past two months, not counting our board members hours and volunteer hours, all to ensure our event would be successful and it was going to rain!
I will be perfectly honest and tell you I thought, “That’s it! I quit! When this is over I QUIT! No more wigs! No more flash mobs! I’m no chump! I quit!!!! And like clockwork whenever I seem to get really discouraged God sends me hope and a message to keep going. First, I received an email from Erin Westerman, the lovely Wig Out client who spoke at our event. She wrote me,
“Did I ever tell you this story? Last January, once we knew how and when my cancer would be treated, we decided it was time to share my diagnosis and the plan with our boys (then 6 and 9). We had 2 separate, age appropriate conversations with them because we knew that they would be on different levels of comprehension – each with different questions and concerns. We only told Reid, our youngest, as much as he needed to know. Our oldest, Ryan, asked me a few questions, took a little time to think, then went outside to talk to his dad for a while. He said “Dad, I know that mom is going to lose her hair. I don’t want her to freak out, so I’m not going to freak out either.”
He then came back inside and said the sweetest thing to me, that anyone has ever said – “Mom, there’s a wig shop in the mall. We can go there if you want, when you start losing your hair.” Totally made my heart melt! I asked him if we should have some fun and get a blue or a pink one. He was definitely not into that – he said “No, we need to find one that looks just like your hair is now.”
And, thanks to you, we did! (not exact, but pretty darn close.) That wig meant a lot to my kids. If I had it on, it was almost like I wasn’t even sick. I think I wore it more for tj than I did for me.
Thanks again – just wanted to share that with you, for my boys. Looking forward to meeting you on Friday!
That was just sign number one. God knows me well enough to know that I usually need to be hit on the head a few times for messages to sink in so he had a few more goodies in store.
After accepting the fact that is was indeed going to rain our board regrouped and we decided to move the event inside to the ‘big top.’ Shelley and I arrived to purvey the new venue and upon looking at the space we turned to each other and our mouths dropped. We wanted to cry! Our pink pretty circus had just turned into a high school hop at the gym! Instead of crying we headed straight to the bar for a drink and by our second glass we decided let’s just make the best of this. Let’s give it all we got and that’s all we can do. We will find the rainbow in this rainstorm!
First, we called Karma lighting and asked them to bring their whole arsenal of lights! They were already donating most of their services for the evening to our cause out of the kindness of their hearts. They didn’t hesitate one bit! They said we’ll be there!!! Rain or shine!!! Still slightly discouraged we trudged on. We had discovered that our brilliant idea of cotton candy centerpieces only had a shelf life of 5 minutes! After that they turn hard and then they start to wilt. We only had days left and no centerpieces and a very small budget! Shelley jumped on the phone and we called The Wedding & Event Warehouse (theweddingwarehouse.com) and after a delightful conversation with the cutest darn gal ever she offered to more than double our embarrassingly small budget by a donation. I must add our ‘popcorn’ centerpieces were amazing!!!
Still feeling apprehensive about how everything was going to turn out we continued on.We arrived in the morning to set up overwhelmed with the amount of work we had to do. And who popped in but our smiling volunteers, Leslie Cadby and Jennifer Swellman, to give us some helping hands. They both went above and beyond! And I can’t leave out Joe Sakala, Shelley’s husband, who is there every year helping us set up.
By 4:00 I still had many things on my to do list and I was filled with anxiety and was Wigging Out! I turned to my husband, John Rose, and with tears already forming I said, “ I have to go home and cry! I’m going to lose it.” And I did. I went home and cried for twenty minutes straight. I cried out, “I’m not an event planner. This is too stressful for me. I can’t handle this type of work. And I don’t even get paid. What am I doing! And I never got my pink lipstick to match my dress! And I cut my lip on that stupid box! This isn’t worth it! Any of it!!!!” And my sweet hubby who followed me home, came over to me, hugged me and said, “Go take a bath and relax. I’m going to go get Ivy from school and we’ll get you some pink lipstick. Go cry it out.” And I did.
I arrived back at the event refreshed and ready to prep our volunteers who were arriving early. When I walked in the door I discovered that we had no sound for our music. There had been a technical difficulty with the speakers. Our DeeJay Kate Scratch Fever, who had also donated her services for the evening, didn’t freak out, didn’t rant or rave, she calmly said, “We’ll figure it out.”
My husband was my hero once again on the search for working speakers. Our kindhearted neighbors, Chip and Janeen Bury who were in the middle of their pre-wig out party, offered their giant speakers for our use. John lugged the speakers out of their house and into his car to the event and upstairs only to discover they wouldn’t work either. So off he went on to plan B and now our board member Shelley’s husband Joe was beside him. They went through plan B, plan C and finally plan D did the trick. When the music finally rang out it was like harps from above!
Guests continued to arrive, each of them donning a smile and of course a wig! Pink wigs, and purple wigs, and afro wigs, and geisha girls and circus conductors . . . we had it all. And our generous photographer INVU portraits (invuaz.com) took a picture of each and every one of them! Not only did she take a picture, but she printed the pictures at the end of the night for our guests to take home – all of her services for the evening she donated!
I was happily greeting guests and out of the corner of my eye I took in the juggler, the performer balancing on a giant red ball and our lovely trapeze artists twirling on her toes, and was caught by surprise by the bearded lady. Our board member Kate Kunberger had outdone herself with this amazing entertainment! We even had a hulu hooper, a fortune teller greeter and fire dancers outside lighting the way. And inside I noticed and eager line forming for the tarot card reader, Elizabeth Seer (elizabethseer.com), who also donated all of our services for the evening.
The program began and our lovely Emcee Syleste Rodriguez from Fox 10 news graciously accepted all of my last minute changes and captivated the guests in her lovely purple wig. Our premiere sponsor Molly Marie Williams with Love Story Films who had donated all of services in exchange for a sponsor package shared her moving experience filming our Wig Out clients, The Joy Bus (thejoybus.org) shared her inspiring story of how she began her nonprofit that brings free meals to cancer patients after losing her friend Joy who bravely fought her battle with cancer. And I shared how The Live and Give Foundation quickly evolved into Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump! and our Wig Out program.
Next in line was Erin Westerman, our Wig Out client who shared the email with me. She spoke about how our program assisted her and her family during her breast cancer treatment bringing us all to tears. And if you weren’t crying by now the Wig Out video produced by Love Story Films (yourlovestoryfilms.com) was played and I think every guest shed a tear or two if not a river. With the help of Syleste and Molly Marie and Brittany Brown one of the America’s Next Top Model Contestants, we honored all of the lovely Wig Out clients who had been so kind to share their journey with us to help out our cause. I’m forever grateful to these women. It is their stories that touch our hearts and inspire us all to give in our own way.
The Wig Out clients chose to give a gift to me as well! They made a little mini me bear with the classic white beehive I wear to many of our events with a tiny little chump shirt. Their gift and appreciation of our program and the work that we do brought tears to my eyes! And there were many more to follow when I witnessed so many caring acts.
Carrie Kunberger stepped up at a moment’s notice to run our live auction after our original person declined. Bob Byram, the winner of the painting generously decided to up his bid after the auction had already ended! And Paintings by Samatha (paintingsbysamantha.com) who normally donates a portion of the final bid from her painting came up to me and said, “I can’t take any of the money. Please use it for wigs.” And her husband next to her said, “And I’m going to write a check for more.”
At every turn someone made me cry with his or her generosity. Rich Wherty who I met in the check-out line, admitted to me that he isn’t normally emotional and was moved by the presentations. He generously sponsored not one but 2 Wig Out clients. Karma lighting (karma4me.com) refused to take any more of our money even though they brought every light they had and toted them all around in the pouring rain to shed some positive pink light. Talk about Karma! And Dr. Remus Repta (www.drrepta.com) our premiere sponsor and local plastic surgeon spoke with me and said, “I’d like to bring in all of my partners and we are starting a breast cancer charities for our suppliers to donate to and I’m going to tell them all to donate to you!”
Guests and volunteers graciously accepted my apologies for things we screwed up on. And I’m sure I’m forgetting a few people now who I should be including in my apologies. Paulla Miller, the sweet little angel that she is, after being told she was not on the guest list (I made the huge mistake of typing in her first name and then her last name instead of last name and then first name!) Paulla didn’t want to upset me with a problem to solve as she saw me frantically trying to help with the speaker situation and thinking there were no seats left in the house since we had sold out. She choose to kindly tell her friends that her husband was feeling ill and they went home. I am sooooo sorry Paulla! Dean and Tamra and Jan I had a whole table of fun loving people to sit with you! Paulla and her husband were two of them! And Classy Sisters (classysisterswigs.com), one of our first sponsors and favorite wig shop to work with graciously accepted my apologies for failing to put out their brochures on our sponsor table. And I have no idea if our volunteers ever did get food. We had it all planned out for them before we moved upstairs. I’m so sorry if we starved you! How kind of you not to complain!!! All of our volunteers were beyond amazing!!!
And some of our volunteers, Ashley and Sean Turner, hadn’t even signed up to be volunteers for the night. They stayed to help us clean up simply because they saw we needed help! Erin Alstad, our board member, and her husband Shawn stayed till the very end helping John and me unload every last box into our garage.
We had pulled it off! We created a fabulous vintage circus themed event thanks to all of the help from our sponsors: Dr. Repta, Love Story Films, Azbreastcancer.org, Classy Sisters Wigs, Hickmans Farms, Karma4me, Invu Portraits, Splish Splash Pools, The Record Room, Stealth Tunes, Intergrative Physical Therapy and Wellness, Tracy Dempsey Originals, Solutions Acupuncture, and JBS Medical Consulting.
Our guests were so fun and creative with their wigs and costumes! Our silent auctions were amazing thanks to the endless hours of our volunteer extraordinaire, Tamra Pavelich from East Valley Auto (Evautoair.com) and all of the generous people who choose to donate. Our board impressed me all night long. Every time I went to Kate with a problem her response was, “I’m on it.” Shelley gracefully flowed through the crowd ensuring everyone was having a great time and sharing our organization. Erin was always a step ahead, thinking of everything we had missed before we even realized we had overlooked important details and was on duty all night long! I love you ladies and I can’t tell you how happy I am that us four girls from Pendergast grade school are all working together to make a difference. Who would have guessed?
At the end of our long exhausting and fun filled evening I snuggled up next to my husband and cried. He asked me “Why are you crying?” And I told him because I can’t believe how amazing people are. People are so nice! And I relayed to him the series of kind acts I witnessed all evening long.
People are so caring and generous and continually amaze me and inspire me. It’s the same acts of kindness that inspired me to start our foundation that now propel me to carry on. It is all of us making a difference together. I am just one on the board with a thousand people lending a hand here and a hand there and some may give money and other give time and others resources and expertise, but it is all of us together we are a making a difference. Thank you for helping me make a differnence and Wigging Out!!!
Arizona Gives Day is March 20th. Please consider us if you are making a donation on THE biggest giving day of the year to support our community. Look for us as Live and Give Foundation or type in Don’t be a Chump or simply follow the link below.