Recently, like 3 days ago, the neighborhood Nicole and I live in, (LaGrange Park or as many refer to it as The LGP) and where our children go to school, was rocked by the news that our school’s beloved and respected Miss O, who has taught and inspired scores of children over the course of 20 years, was diagnosed with a very rare and extremely serious form of cancer. Katie isn’t only a teacher, she is a friend, sister, mother, wife, daughter, confidant, and beautiful soul. This one hit home. Too close to home. A girl we know was diagnosed with this cancer 3 years ago, and not just any girl. She was our bright light, our pee your pants laughing, couldn’t wait to see her face again, girl. A girl we took baths with as children. A girl we took summer vacations with. A girl we considered our real life sister. A girl who impacted our lives as much as Katie impacts everyone’s life she enters. A girl who we watched suffer. A girl who wasn’t able to watch her 2 babies grow up. A girl who is actually the reason The Sister Project exists. She gave us our purpose. We are determined to never, ever allow someone to suffer again like Megan did. It is our mission to support women. To be a voice, a safe place, and sisters to all women who need us.
Never in a million years did I think this could happen. That we would meet this awful disease again. It’s too rare. No way. She’s too young. She’s too special. Her kids are too small. This isn’t fair. I hate it. F*&^ cancer.
But, about as fast as the news came that our frog lovin, first grade teachin’, daughter, wife, aunt, friend, sister and mother had received the news that she was sick, our town does what our town always does in the face of adversity.We band together and show our support in any way we can. It’s awe-inspiring and I am proud to be a part of it. Here is why.
The stress and suffering alone is too much, couple that with the bills, insurance, unexpected expenses and other financial burdens, this will be devastating and the bills will be piling up far too high and far too fast and if we know this cancer, it means war. What happened next blew my mind. A Go Fund Me account was created in hopes to help relieve Katie and her family of some of the financial strain and huge emotional stresses. In a matter of hours, $30,000 was raised. I sat at my desk and left the tab open just to watch the number climb. This isn’t because she knows a lot of rich people who can afford to donate. She may know a few, but our community is not made of money. Our community is made of love and friendship. The kind of love and friendship that will help this beautiful soul fight this battle. Our community is made up of hard working, family people who would rather give $100 to help Katie than put gifts under their Christmas tree. #INSPIRING
In 18 hours, kids that are now in college, once students of Miss O’s, families, friends, randoms, loved ones, friends of friends caught wind of this incredible person’s story and bucked up and did their part to help a person that has so positively influenced and affected so many lives over the years. I just checked the Go Fund Me page and in 2 days that number has surpassed $51,000. If that doesn’t speak volumes for the kind of person I am talking about then I will eat my own hand.
However, $51,000 is a lot of money, but it is not enough. We have to devastate this disease and the only way we know how is with awareness and money.
I have to share this particular story about Katie because it’s personal and it is a testament to the human being Katie is. Mia, my 7 year old daughter, was lucky enough to get her as a first grade teacher this year, and if you live in the LGP, you know that Miss O is the creme de la creme of educators and getting her is like hitting a homer right out of the ballpark. She is not only a teacher every parent hopes their child will cross paths with at one point or another, she is respected by her colleagues, peers, neighbors, well, by everyone. Katie is one Cool A&% Chick with a bit of a gift when it comes to educating. She has touched the hearts and little souls of many. She continues to be an advocate for our children and through all the crap that life tosses her way, she continues to make her students, our babies, at the top of her list of priorities. It is apparent, she is right where she is supposed to be, teaching the future leaders of tomorrow.
Like Katie, I have boy and girl twins, and William is across the way in a different class entirely. She gets the “twin thing.” Completely unaware of the nightmare this woman was living, I texted her to see if there was any way we could piggy back with Will’s class so I could read to both of my kids and not go down in history as the worst mom ever who likes Mia more than William. Kill two birds with one stone, if you will. In retrospect, I can not believe she even responded let alone did what she did. Her text read, “Michelle…from one twin mom to another, we have to bundle these activities and not do things twice or we will have a MENTAL breakdown! The twins will love it and the kids in our classes will think that is the coolest.” No Katie, you are the coolest.
The following week I learned the news of her illness and I could not get our recent correspondence out of my head. In the wake of all she was going through, all she cared about was helping me and making the kids day. This here is a special, special person. Not surprised, though. Every single person I spoke with when teacher lists came out said the very same thing when I told them Mia got Miss O. “You hit the jackpot with that one.” Well, duh.
Ultimately, our community has hit the jackpot with this woman. Not just our community, though. Her sister has hit the jackpot. #SoulMates. Her kids hit the jackpot, she is the kind of mother we all strive to become. The world is a better place because of her love and sisterhood, because of her heart and dedication. The Sister Project wants to pay it forward. That was the whole point of this blog from the beginning. To create a platform, chock full of empowerment and inspiration with the sole purpose of helping and inspiring women, to support our fellow sisters, and to be a loud voice with a huge mission. For every person out there who has been touched by a teacher. For the kids who need teachers like Katie. For every girl out there who has a sister. For every friend who has had a friend with cancer. For every mother who has a daughter. For every child who needs their mother. For every human who needs to fight.
As a sign of gratitude, as a sign of sisterhood, as a sign of love and humanity, during the season of giving, ditch your Starbucks today and toss $5 toward something greater than yourself. We know life is hard and money can be tight. If you are unable to donate monetarily to help our friend and sister, Katie, please use your power of positivity to send Katie some mad, positive vibes, thoughts, prayers, love, and light. We love you Katie.
We are The Sister Project.
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