When your life and dreams are torn apart by having a preemie or sick baby, you enter a new world. This is my life, this is my reality. It has changed who I am. It has changed my perspective on life. It has given me focus and purpose. Two years ago, the March of Dimes came to my workplace to talk about the mission and WalkAmerica. A year after that, I found SHARE and we formed our Mission Family Team, Ryley’s Walkers. Last year, it was just our family walking, plus my in-laws. We surpassed our fundraising goal, and I was genuinely thankful that family and close friends had seen it in their heart to financially support our Team. This year, I increased our goal significantly. I really wasn’t sure we would get there. This mission is so important to me, and to our family, as it is to all of you. Would family and friends jump on again? Would we be able to meet our goal? Would we be able to get others to walk with us and help out in the fundraising efforts? The answer has been a huge YES!!
On Saturday, we held our first annual Ryley’s Walkers Poker Tournament. It was AWESOME!!!! I was sure people would come because it would be a fun time, and it was poker…something most of our friends love playing. People did come. We had 27 players, and about 10 more that just came to hang out and enjoy an evening out. But the attitude surprised me. These people came not just to play and have a good time…..they came to help us support the March of Dimes, and to honor Ryley, our little survivor. I was so completely touched by it all. I cried for Ryley and WHY we were holding this event, but I cried because my friends, and friends of friends, and family opened their hearts and wallets to something that hasn’t personally affected them.
We raised……are you ready?……….Drum roll please……………..
$910!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Most of the winners gave back part of their winnings to donate to MOD. And everyone was thanking us for having it. Many were even asking about next year and if this will become an annual event. Heck Yeah!!!!! It was a GREAT night, and successful in ways I’d never imagined. The poker extraordinaire, who ran the actual game, said he’d love to get it to where we wouldn’t fit in a house anymore and would have to rent a hall….this man has children, but none that were premature and none that had any birth defects or spent any time in a NICU. I just started to cry. This is my life and my vision, and someone that barely knows us, knows Ryley, is so excited about helping with this mission. Simply, wonderfully amazing.
So, I walk for Ryley being 5 1/2 and still as feisty as the day he was born.
I walk because I have two other healthy, fullterm children.
I walk because parents shouldn’t have to face the nightmare of a sick, tiny baby in the NICU.
I walk because no parent should have to say goodbye to a child who has barely lived.
I walk because I care, and because I have seen that other people care.