Monday, December 10, 2012

From the Heart of a Child

We're right in the middle of the Christmas season and many of us are thinking about giving.  Giving gifts to friends and family.  Giving material things to the ones we love.  Many of us are also involved in outreach projects where we're giving a little more - something of ourselves - to help others who might not have a meaningful Christmas otherwise.  My church is currently in a series called 100,000 Gifts.  Our church is encouraging us to find ways we can give gifts to others - strangers - with the goal of reaching 100,000 of these gifts reported by Christmas.  If you are a fellow church member, I'm about to give you an amazing way you can give this season.  If you are not a fellow church member, I'm about to give you an amazing way you can give this season!

I want to introduce you to a personal friend of mine.  Her name is Corry.  We went to high school together and, through the wonders of modern social media, we reconnected and I have been learning more about her and her precious family over the past several years.  Corry is mom to three of the most beautiful children you will ever see - Heather, Camille and Chase.  I love watching her kids grow up through the pictures Corry has posted online.  One thing that immediately struck me {aside from the most gorgeous eyes you'll ever see} was this family's love of the outdoors, particularly snowmobiling.

You see, home for me is a city called Sault Ste. Marie {that's pronounced "Soo Saint Marie" if you have no idea how to say that...silent "t"...kind of like "Fontenot" has a silent "t", but that's another story}.  This city sits on the shores of Lake Superior in Ontario, right across the border from the far eastern end of the upper peninsula of Michigan.  If you're in the U.S., simply drive up I-75 and you'll cross the St. Mary's river from Michigan right into my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  I have since moved to Texas and now South Carolina, but Corry and her family still live "back home" where winter sports opportunities abound.

Corry and her family have been involved in something called "Snowarama".  This annual event, which will take place on February 9, 2013, is a snomobiling ride which is meant to raise money that will help children and youth with physical disabilities.  They directly assist financing for vital mobility equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and communication devices and summer camp through the organization Easter Seals, which I am sure many of you are familiar with.  I am also familiar with Easter Seals in Sault Ste. Marie because of the work my cousin and her family have done over the years with them as they have a daughter with Spina Bifida.  This is an amazing organization.  As the parent of a special needs child, I'm 100% behind their efforts in the communities.

Corry's husband, Danny, was an avid snowmobiler and rode in the Snowarama ride, raising money for Easter Seals yearly.  Camille and Dan had planned to go together for her first ride in 2009, but Danny passed away suddenly on January 28th and they never got to participate.

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals
Dan and Camille - 2007
The following year {2010}, Camille asked her mom if they could ride in the Snowarama event and raise money for her dad!  So that is exactly what they did.  They gathered pledges and rode in his memory.  Camille raised approximately $980 in pledges!!

In 2011, she again gathered pledges and participated in the ride in her dad's memory.  Camille was the highest pledged rider for Sault Ste. Marie, having raised $1,650 for Easter Seals.  She was able to present the cheque {yes, I am bringing out my "Canadian" spelling for this post!!} from Snowarama at the local Easter Seals Telethon.

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals
Corry and Camille - Snowarama 2011
At the beginning of this year, Camille set out to top her efforts from the previous year and she succeeded!  

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals

Camille was one of the top fundraisers for all of Ontario, raising $2,875 for Easter Seals! Again she was the highest pledged Snowarama rider for Sault Ste. Marie. 

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals
Snowarama 2012
After the ride, Camille volunteered at the local Easter Seals Telethon, answering the phones and accepting donations!

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals
Camille at the Easter Seals Telethon 2012 getting ready to answer phones.

Last Spring, Camille received an appreciation award in honor of her Outstanding Initiative and Dedication to Social Justice and Equity in recognition of her efforts and fundraising for the Easter Seals and Snowarama!

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals

Friends, Camille is such an amazing little girl for what she has done to improve the lives of others in the community where she lives - in the community where I grew up.  She should be commended on her efforts.  After all, we're not talking about an adult having achieved all of this.  She is an 8 year old child - not much difference in age between her and my Moira.  I am sure that if her dad were still alive, they would be enjoying these annual rides together, raising money together for this event.  Sadly, that isn't the case.  Yet Camille is carrying on in her father's memory, which is such an amazing credit to this little girl - and to her mom, Corry.

I would absolutely love it if you would consider a contribution to this incredible cause.  You can sponsor Camille for the 2013 Snowarama event RIGHT HERE {click on those words!}.  You would be such a blessing to so many people if you could contribute even just a small amount.  I am encouraging all of you to consider this as an opportunity to give this Christmas season.

Thank you so much, Corry and Camille for allowing me to share your story today!  Best of luck!!

Camille Venn Snowarama Easter Seals


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