Whew.. anyways... now that that's over. I wanted to do a review of Ella's Run. I think (hope.. pray) most everyone can see the benefits of what we're doing with the funds earned from Ella's Run. However, I get SUUUUUPER self conscious every year that maybe people think we're just being greedy or we don't deserve this (we don't actually) or we should stop fundraising or every single one of our sponsors and participants is secretly talking behind our backs and deciding not to support us anymore and every single person I'm going to ask is going to say no and I'm going to want to crawl in a hole for the entire rest of my days.. I know, I get dramatic. Thankfully every single year I am shocked and surprised and moved to tears when people say "Of COURSE! How else can we help? What else do you need donated?" There are some really good people out there..
Anyways, I know exactly what it takes to go to Conference, but it occurred to me that not everyone probably does. As an example, here is a basic estimate breakdown of our trips.
Conference fees: $2500
Extra food/parking/rental car/taxis: $1000
For a grand total of $9000.
And thats without any extra "fun" stuff.
We are so so thankful for the generosity we've received to be able to bring our family to these Conferences - it's so important to us. It's absolutely true that every single donation and tshirt bought makes a difference and my all time favorite donation was from the old lady I didn't even know who mailed us a check for $5 because that's what she could give.. I will never forget her. However, the truth is, one Ella's Run barely raises enough money to cover just the Conference fees for one year. Which is why we hold the event every year even though Conference is every 2 years. We can save in the off year to help with the next one coming up. This year will be much less expensive for us since it's in Minnesota and we won't have the cost of airfare, but our hopes are that we can start saving again for the 2020 Conference, which is rumored on the East Coast (not a cheap place to visit I hear..)
I didn't necessarily want to include this as to not appear showy, but I think it's important to some people to see exactly where their money is going. Obviously like I said, this will be our 4th Conference that we've been able to attend due almost entirely to the generosity of our community. In addition as of this year, we will have donated over $2000 back to the CdLS Foundation. It would be easy for us to keep that money to help with more Conferences, but it's important to us to support the ones that have supported us. We have also been able to privately assist other families struggling to afford Conference, and we are paying it forward with my own photography business by donating over $1000 in sessions last year to local fundraisers in our own community. As my business grows I'm looking forward to giving back in even greater ways.
I understand there are times in your life that things just don't work out or it's not best for your family to do something and you obviously have to do what's best for you, but I know for us if I would have stayed in my little bubble none of these amazing trips would have happened. Organizing Ella's Run is a huge step out of my comfort zone. I have to, first of all, be organized, call people on the *gasp* telephone, ask for (gulp) money, speak in front of a group of people (ugghhh), plan ahead (not my strong point).. The list goes on and on why I am not qualified for this position. But I am determined to not waste my life waiting for "next time." One of the hardest yet most important lessons CdLS has taught me is that "next time" isn't guaranteed. I am faced with death and the loss of young children from this earth far more than anyone should be. Ella lost another sister this week, just a year younger than her. But the thing I've learned from the strong mothers who stand after their children have gone is they're so glad for the memories. They're so glad for the vacations, the trips, the ballet class, the boat ride, the time they spent together. Life is short. Life for people with CdLS can often be too short. So take the trip. Go for the experience. Make the memories. Get out of your comfort zone. It may not feel like it's the right time, but you never know when there won't be a next time.