Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bee Thankful

As I open up my computer with wet sleeves, dripping from the backlash of splashes from busy boys bath, I can hear the occasional eruption of laughter trickling down the stairs as my husband is reading the boys their bedtime stories. (This is supposed to be their 'winding down time' but I learned a long time ago that while Michael's bed time routine is a LOT less efficient, it is much more fun. I can live with that).

I'm grateful for many things this Thanksgiving Eve - the first of which is our staple: health. Knowing how quickly things can turn with a critically ill child, we know how lucky we are that all four of us are healthy at the moment.

This Thanksgiving I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the following people: 

Stephanie Reynolds
Molly Loyd
Marjorie Bridges
Katherine Daly
Stacey Bookmiller
Page Gatewood
Sara Linn
Jonathon Swope
Casie Petty

This crew embodies such distinct talents and unique personalities that together, over the course of a year, collaborate to deliver Bee Mighty's annual fundraiser. 

While excited to move to Colorado last year, my heart was so heavy to be so far from Bee Mighty. I felt it most this summer when I spent two weeks in Charlotte with back to back meetings, brain storming sessions, meeting new families and connecting with who Bee Mighty is today. I was so 'homesick' for Bee Mighty when I returned to Denver and I wondered how the event would go this year, being so far away.

I know I am biased, but it was EXTRAORDINARY!

Michael and I flew back east last week and jumped in to an already well-oiled machine. We stuffed 300 gift bags, collected auction items and ran errands wherever we were told.

Waking up on Saturday morning, felt like our wedding day. Swarming with anticipation and excitement, I find it hard to believe that all of this work, this beauty and effort surrounding us is for something Michael and I feel so strongly about.... and so do they.

Similar to our wedding day, I consciously took pauses throughout the day to truly take in all that goes in to such an enormous event. Here is a glimpse into what could be seen:

Entering the Country Club, blooming trees and unique 'Bee Green' centerpieces are being delivered and created to transform an already spectacular setting. (Thank you Carol from Joyner-Benfield for such a gracious donation). 

Over 30 high end auction items are strewn across half the length of a football field. I tip toe over Anne Neilson paintings,  Chezelle jewelry, beach house donations, ski weekends and more amazed at who has felt compelled to donate to Bee Mighty. 

I turn the corner to find Katherine Daly executing a plan for volunteers and casting an overall approval (or not) on the set up, as she is the expert in the area with a commanding presence and eye for perfection. 

To date, Casie has hosted and donated countless Pure Barre classes, her time and network to educate people about our cause. She also stops me each time I'm in town to tell her how much she values Bee Mighty and how thankful she is to be a part of it.

Making my way to the room where dinner and desserts shaped like honeycombs and bees will be served, I am stopped by the media group who want to know where 'the sails' should be placed. 'Sails?'  I ask ignorantly. Sails that will hover above the dining tables and subtly shine the Charlotte Hornets logo to highlight our presenting sponsor. (The Charlotte Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets! THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS!!) **Thank you, Heather Hucks!** 

I hear some cackling in the distance. Jonathan and my husband are in cahoots. I'm pretty sure Jonathan is there for comic relief and charm. :) Somehow these 'old' ladies (myself included) haven't driven him away, as he continues to show up at each meeting with a zest for Bee Mighty and fresh ideas. 

I found myself setting up gift bags with Marjorie, mostly because I was just happy to be catching up with her. Marjorie was one of the few people that saw me in the hospital when I gave birth to Shaw. I think most people didn't know how to respond or if they were even allowed. Marjorie came and just watched me cry. She held my hand and didn't ask much. I don't remember much from my time in the  hospital, but I remember her. Later, she told me her husband was a 27-weeker (the same as Shaw) and he became a pillar of hope for our family.

Rounding the corner to the 'ballroom' (where you will find us on cutting a rug in a few short hours), I see two of my friends that I literally grew up with... They are buried in front of a computer talking about the 'run of show' for the evening and all technological things I know nothing about. Stacey & Marc Bookmiller were two of my best friends from high school, that I have shamefully lost touch with. Somehow, they volunteered with Bee Mighty this year, securing sponsors, working on our webpage and educating all of Bee Mighty about Social Media. (One of the highlights of my night was sharing PBRs with them at 2:30am at the Thirsty Beaver. I can't remember the last time I was out that late - likely, it was with them!!! :) 

Hours later, it is time. I take a few deep breaths as we enter and I squeeze Michael's hand tighter than usual because it is all happening so fast. 

It is chaos. Everyone is racing about furiously (why didn't I remember how crazy it is just before from last year?) with last minute details. 

As the event begins, my friend, Page, whose ENTIRE family comes to town for this event (They are sponsors, patrons, attendees... they are all in because Page believes in Bee Mighty and it takes my breath away to have their extended support) can be seen at the front door, regardless of the 20 degree temperature, shaking every single hand that enters the event, welcoming them and thanking each donor for their support.

I make my way to the Diamonds Direct booth. They have $3,000 in diamonds at their table to give away for Bee Mighty. I purchase three blinking rings (that I have to turn off periodically throughout the evening because of the constant stimulus). Later I will make it only two rounds of heads or tails until I am forced out of the exciting competition to let the winners continue their path to shining (or rather blinging) glory.

Fifteen minutes into our event, I make my way towards the front door. I won't move from this space for two hours, until we are on stage for the program. For two hours, I stand in awe at the 325+ faces that parade through the door for Bee Mighty. 

Sara Linn glides up to me, she radiates warmth with her smile and enveloping hug. She was a mighty addition to the planning team this year. Not only is she fun and enthusiastic about fundraising, I knew her 'on the other side'. Sara is a NICU nurse and when she isn't planning a fabulous party for a good cause and being a Mom to two little ones, she is saving tiny lives.

As the night progresses, I begin to get emotional. Occasionally, I will catch a glimpse of the wide screen that is displaying photos from mighty miracles at their birth. I can be mid conversation and the photos (one in particular of Shaw) catapults me into the reality of why we are all here. We are celebrating; but at what cost? Twenty two spinal taps for my son? 122 days of suffering for my son in the NICU? I am so proud of this evening, but Shaw's photo keeps me grounded. He reminds me of why we are here and our important mission.

Molly Grantham from WBTV news is our emcee for the evening. I am indebted to her support and friendship. Molly is an outstanding investigative reporter and personally lends her heart to a handful of local charities. We are honored that Bee Mighty is one of those. 

And then Molly introduces this: Bee Mighty Video

The incredibly scrupulous and talented Sol Horner from Bunch Collective did it again this year. He created and donated the following video which documents just one of the Bee Mighty families and their journey. 

Finally, our guests of honor, the mighty Pierce Franks and his Mom, Lindsay, were introduced. Pierce was a Bee Mighty recipient this year and an inspiration to me personally. Their presence made the entire evening compete!

Once the program is complete, I can finally exhale. My toes begin to tap and it isn't long before I find my husband and beckon him to the dance floor. 

Molly joins me. Who would have thought Molly Loyd would be spearheading half of the event! When I met her working at Discovery 10 years ago, I knew she would change the world wherever she directed her passion. (I just thought it would be with dogs! :) But here we are, three babies later, and she has been more supportive (and brilliant) than I ever could have wished. 

Making her way to the stage, I watch one of my oldest friends, Stephanie, with her contagious laugh that bounces of the walls. All eyes are on her, as she is celebrating her team's hard work, while in reality, her heart and head are with her father who is currently fighting a very challenging battle of his own. This event would not be possible without Stephanie Reynolds. She works all year to make Bee Mighty a priority in her busy life. I know the details of this event are not important with everything she has on her plate, but she is so loyal to her Godson, Shaw. There just aren't words to thank her...

Dawn Strouse, with Photography by Chanda and a preemie Mom herself, was there to document the entire evening, donating her time and talent to Bee Mighty.  

Well, rest assured - these women (and man) know how to throw a good party. And some how between the signature cocktails, giving away diamonds and personally greeting each guest that entered the event, they raised $90,000 for Bee Mighty that night. 

You heard me.

Let me say it again. They raised $90,000!!!!!!!!!

We are so amazed with this Bee Mighty team and their hard work to make this event possible. We are grateful on behalf of the Bee Mighty board, but mostly for the children we will be able to fund next year. 
Bee Mighty Advisory Committee: Michael Richter, Cameron Uher, Stephanie Reynolds, Candace Richter, Heather Hucks, Anne Gildea, Caitlin Rissler, PJ Berolatti (Absent: Cate Nixon)

We also are grateful for our friends and family that traveled a great distance to be there - even though we may have only had a few minutes to spend with them. They were there, loving us and standing out in a sea of people that are showing up. 

Until next year...

Happy Thanksgiving!
Bee Thankful.
Bee Mighty.

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