31 May 2012

Why someone would raise $2000 for Bennett

Meet Brittney (left).  She raised the most money a single person has ever raised for Bennett.  
She is a rock star.  She has the gift of compassion.  She is someone I hardly know.

I met Brittney for the first time last year at the Waco Great Strides Walk.  When I saw her at this year's Walk, I couldn't hold my tears back.

I didn't plan on crying.  But I also hadn't planned on what I was going to say to Brittney when I thanked her in person for raising two thousand dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help find Bennett a cure.

I first learned of Brittney's lofty thousand dollar goal to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis one evening as I was browsing Facebook.  Brittney and I were Facebook friends... but Brittney didn't inform me of what she was about to venture to do.

Again and again, I watched her post on Facebook asking friends, family, and clients of her photography business to support her in her effort to help Bennett.  I was amazed at her tenacity and her strength.  At this point, she hadn't even met Bennett!

In a shaded part of the park that held this year's Great Strides Walk, I gently placed my hand on Brittney's left elbow and I looked at her through her sunglasses.

I asked questions I knew would find few acceptable answers: "Why in the world did you do that?  Why did you raise $2000 to find Bennett a cure?"
I said, "I know why I do this, but why do you??"

Brittney's dark shades could not hide her tears as they dropped onto her cheek.  She answered, "How could I not??  He is your baby."

We stood there in awe of each other and laughed through our awkward tear-filled conversation in the midst of the loud music and hustle and bustle fo the Walk.  

But I still couldn't get my mind around it: Why in the world someone like her would repeatedly put herself on the line for someone else - why someone like her would make her personal goal so high - why someone like her wouldn't just turn away from the need and say, "Eh, somebody else can do that."

Our conversation was cut short due to the Walk activities but I asked Brittney if she really would, for my sake more than anyone else's, write and explain why she chose to fundraise for a little boy she had never met, a momma she didn't know, and a disease she may never experience first hand.

Her story is beautiful.  This is what Brittney wrote:

"I guess I should start with: we serve an awesome God. I don't want to sound too textbook when I say, he puts people in our lives right when we need them. God actually put your family in my heart about a year and a half ago.  Matt (my husband) and I were spending our Sunday morning visiting the church we had grown to love for over 3 years, UBC.  It had been well over a year since we had been there and had woke up that morning and decided to head that way.  That morning Josh (the pastor) played a video of a family that captured my heart, a heart that takes more than it should for granted.  In that video was a husband, wife and two sons.  Before it was over I was in tears.  At that time I was completely unaware of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and remained unaware for about 6 more months. 
Then one day in May of 2011 while on Facebook, (good ol' facebook) I ran across a fellow photographer's link to a video of an adorable little boy.  That boy was Bennett.  Tears again.  What an incredible story of survival.  It's even hard to type without becoming numb... SURVIVAL.   Granted, we all are not promised tomorrow, but when I wake up each morning survival comes without work for myself and my family.   
Brittney and her family
I also have two little boys, and when they wake up in the morning there is not anything I HAVE to do keep them alive for that day.  Yes, of course they need the basic food, water, love, touch etc, but nothing medically that I am having to do to help them survive the day.  When I watched the video with little Bennett and his day to day regimen of medications, breathing treatments, feeding challenges and many more that I am sure take place, I was immediately on board.  I want this little boy to survive, and to not "just survive" but to LIVE!! 
However, this particular day that I had seen this video was just a few days before the walk, one maybe two days, I can't quite remember. So when I signed up I set my goal at $150 and had agreed to match up to $75. I woke up the morning of the walk with $330.  What a blessing. 
The morning of the Walk in 2011 I was able to meet you and talk for just a moment about how I had heard about the walk.  We didn't get to talk long as it is a very busy day for you and your family. :)  This past year I have been following your blog regarding Bennett and how things are going, and have been in contact with you a few times for various reasons. ;) It has been so nice to keep in contact and learn more about you and your beautiful family. 
Ok, so that was the "How" I met you and heard of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation... Now for the "Why" I chose to walk again and fundraise this year: 
In all honesty, the only thing that comes to mind is, Why not?  Why would someone NOT attempt to raise money for this foundation, for Bennett?   As I spoke in the first sentence, we serve an awesome God.  I personally believe in doing that.  We are to serve those here in the flesh, on this earth that God has placed before us.  I am far from where I would like to be when it comes to serving God or, like I said, serving others.  This walk, raising money, and being a part of this foundation to me is the absolute LEAST I could do.  I feel this is God's way of giving me opportunities to serve Him through others. 
Motivation - What is more motivating that a little boy who needs this to SURVIVE?  Anyone who is a parent can tell you that becoming a parent changes you.  I have always "loved" children, but I never knew how a mother loved her child until I had my own.  I know how much you love your children, how much you love Bennett.  My motivation to start, keep going, and to go farther is to keep that love here on earth.  To keep Bennett with you for as long as God has planned.  That is motivation that should put a light in any fire!  Parent or not we are given hearts so that we can love.  Love is an action. 
This year, I got a bigger jump on the fundraising (anything more than one day would have been more than last year) so that helped tremendously.   When choosing my goal for this year I thought back to last year.  In one day my family/friends and I gave $330, so my goal of $1000 really didn't seem like enough.  I set the goal with the faith, and the hopes that it would be met quickly and then it would just be a matter of how much more can be raised for Bennett.  That is exactly what happened.  

I am not sure exactly how long it took, but it was not long at all.  All of my fundraising was done through Facebook which spread the word to friends and family about what I was doing.  Immediately my family jumped on board and then friends and before long the $1000 was met. WOW, I was overjoyed for Bennett and your family.  So with over a month left to raise money I upped my goal to $1500 and began spreading the word some more.  

Donations did fade out a bit and I also took part in Relay for Life (which is dear to me as I have lost a set of grandparents to Cancer) at the end of April so that put a stand still on the fundraising for the CFF.  Once Relay was finished I started back up with the fundraising for the CFF and within a few weeks met my second goal of $1500.  

I am just amazed at the heart of some people.   Up until the day of the race, there was not a single person who had given to my goal that knew Bennett or his family.  That day, a friend from my days at UBC, Beth, had given and was also there with her family to walk on Bennett's behalf.  She and her family were the only ones who gave that knew Bennett. 
The day of the race I was less than $100 away from $2000.  I said it twice, I'll say it again: we serve an awesome God.  God touched the hearts of many through Bennett and before I left the walk that morning I showed you the grand total: $2000.  Tears again.  

You can't quite wrap your brain around why I would do such a thing, and I can't wrap my brain around why someone wouldn't. :) In all honesty I did nothing but copy and paste and share Bennett's story with my friends and family, they are the ones to thank!! 
I give thanks to God for putting Matt and me back at UBC that morning, and for Josh for sharing their story and opening my heart to your family.  BIG thanks to Khimberly with Snaptastic Shots Photography for sharing Bennett's story.  

Above all I thank you for fighting!  For fighting for Bennett, fighting for your life to keep your son here with you.  For getting this walk together and stepping out and asking for help from strangers! 
Remember, God puts people in our lives right when we need them. :)  I love you and as much as you say I have taught you, your family, YOU have opened my heart to seek God and His opportunities.  
To you I am grateful! 

Brittney's heart and her story are continual reminders of how God can deliver blessings, even in the midst of suffering.  Brittney also demonstrates the power that even one person can have to help others.

Brittney, you are a blessing.  Thank you for fighting with us as well as for us.

1 comment :

  1. Wow, what a beautiful story. Here's to hoping we can do a Great Strides walk here in Chapel Hill next year! =)


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