When I received an email to share the David Foster Foundation’s 30th Miracle Anniversary Gala event and attend the red carpet for interviews I felt an immediate sense of joy! Among the star-studded line-up was Oprah, Steven Tyler, Jay Leno and more!
All I could think was, OH MY GOD! THE BIG O!
I’ve attended countless events/fundraisers and supported some wonderful causes in the last four years since I began Styling The Inside but my excitement for being in the same room as Oprah topped the cake!
In all honesty, I felt moments of imposter syndrome hit me prior to the red carpet interviews. Thoughts like, “Who am I to interview some of these big celebrities?” crossed my mind. And then I came across a photo on the David Foster Foundation’s Twitter page while I was promoting the event. It was a photo of some Canadian families who received sponsorship for their children who needed life-saving organ transplants. Something compelled me to take a closer look at the photo, and when I did, my heart burst and my eyes filled with happy tears!
(image found on twitter)
In the photo was a family who used to attend my childcare center! I cared for two of the brothers for close to five years. And one of the brothers, Aidyn needed a kidney transplant when he was in my care.
Aidyn was the cutest little guy. When he was in my care he went from crawling to walking. I used to change his diapers, put him down for naps, we would do arts and crafts and go on field trips, and nature walks.
Aidyn was in and out of the hospital on dialysis waiting for an organ donor. I remember feeling so sad for Aidyn when I would see the little tube he had attached to him. The other children in the center were always very empathetic with Aidyn.
He is a special boy and I spent so much time with him. He felt like family. In other words, I was emotionally invested. This boy had my heart!
When I had my third daughter I decided I needed a break from running my childcare. I wanted to spend a year focusing on my last baby, so I made the decision to close my center during that first year of her life.
One day I was folding laundry in my living room while watching an episode of Oprah. I remember so vividly standing at the dining room table bawling uncontrollably while I was folding my children’s clothes. I could hear Oprah in the background talking about passion, using your gifts and listening to your gut. I was so torn between going back to running my childcare center. I loved working with children and the entire business was already set-up. It was comfortable to go back to, but something deep inside told me there was something else out there for me to do. I was plagued with fear of the unknown but my heart and intuition knew it was time for another journey.
Standing in the living room that day folding laundry and bawling uncontrollably was a really pivotal moment in my life. When people ask me how I decided to start my blog, I always go back to that moment. The “I’m watching Oprah and crying moment” because that was the moment I decided not to go back to running a childcare.
It was the moment I decided to step into my fear and listen to my gut.
It was the moment I decided to follow my passion.
On Saturday when I found out Aidyn received sponsorship from The David Foster Foundation, I was overjoyed with happiness for him, and his family. I haven’t seen him in almost six years, but to hear he is doing so well and received thousands of dollars in non-medical care expenses and support through the foundation made me feel more excited than potentially meeting Oprah!
The David Foster Foundation helped financially with parking, gas, groceries and when Aidyn was in the hospital for extended stays the foundation even paid for the family to stay in a suite.
When I found this out, attending the event was no longer simply about supporting a cause and being on the red carpet with celebrities.
It became so clear to me that this moment in my life was a full circle one. From taking care of Aidyn at my childcare center to that pivotal moment in my living room when I was crying while watching Oprah (feeling fearful and uncertain about what I was going to do) to being invited as media to the red carpet David Foster Foundation 30th anniversary Miracle Gala with Oprah there, and then… back to Aidyn!
That moment in my living room watching Oprah led me to this moment. I didn`t know where I was going to end up but I knew I wanted to write, and today, Styling The Inside is my platform where I can share stories like Aidyns and support incredible causes like The David Foster Foundation.
Aidyns mom, Danielle Merlino expressed her gratitude for The David Foster Foundation and 30th Anniversary Miracle Gala on a social media post:
” Words can never express how grateful we are to the David Foster Foundation for helping us through it all. Without your help, I probably would have lost my mind. When I think back on our journey, and think about what it would have been like without the foundation, things look dark and uncertain. You made it so we could focus on Aidyn and our family. We all needed each other and you made that possible.
You truly are angels.. to be in the presence of so many “important” people last night, was amazing. To watch the generosity flood the room with so many people sponsoring families filled my heart. We were once one of those families.
I have to admit, I was kind of jealous, as I would have liked nothing more than to sponsor a family. I hope that one day we can.
Thank you for helping families like ours.” -Danielle Merlino
Did you know The David Foster Foundation’s first fundraiser began as a softball tournament in Vancouver 30 years ago?
In Brian Mulroney’s words, “We were at the first David Foster party like this. It was a softball game and believe it or not, I got a hit and ran the bases…which I couldn’t do today.”
“It raised a modest amount of money, but that’s how things go, things start that way.”
Fast forward thirty years and on Saturday night the David Foster Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Miracle gala raised a substantial 10.2 million dollars!!!!
Brian Mulroney, couldn’t have said it better.
You really just have to start somewhere.
I don’t know where I am going to end up next, but I hope by sharing my full circle experience I’ve inspired you to listen to your inner voice and brave the unknown because you never know where acting on your intuition can take you.
The David Foster Foundation has supported 1,100 Canadian families.
Below are some photos I took and words from the star-studded line up at The David Foster 30th Anniversary Miracle Gala. The evening felt surreal!
“I’m just so happy to be here in Vancouver, supporting such an amazing cause.” -Laura Bretan 15-year-old Opera singer.
“David is such a local hero, and for the event to be held here at Rogers Arena is very special,” “I don’t know if there is any greater gift than the opportunity to donate an organ. It’s an opportunity to save a life, and I think it’s something we should all think about.”-Former NHL hockey player Trevor Linden
“Raising money and creating awareness is not easy, so with David, we’re pretty blessed because we have a voice that can help,” said Michael Ravenhill-Ceo, of the David Foster Foundation.