I am going to tell you a story of hundreds of people throwing their pebble into the ponds of our lives all at once. The outer rings of each ripple intersecting with the next, creating a beautiful tapestry of interwoven love and support. This will be the longest post I ever write, so hold on folks….Its about to get real in here.
This handmade Leather Fire Helmet shield was made by Brent Barlo, who had brain surgery at age 9 and is a retired volunteer firefighter. He felt connected to John’s struggles because of his own. This shield has John’s official induction date into Evesham’s Fire Rescue and embodies his company’s number. 22. I have never met Brent, and probably never will. But, his hours of love poured into this fire shield embody John John’s journey with the Evesham Fire Rescue. I think I will ask them to replace his leather on his Evesham Helmet with this one.
This Is the Fireman’s Prayer Donated by the Willingboro Township Station on Sunset Rd that closed. It is found in almost every Firefighters home, I’m told.
This is one of two butterflies to remember a dear friends daughter Alexa, who spent her time on this world suffering with children just like John. Her legacy will live on in this house. Her story is close to my heart, as is her mother….You can read Alexa’s story here. If you read her story you will understand what those of us in the cancer world are really up against. It is a fast, scary, no promises world. But, we find ways to rise above. Alexa’s battle did not die with her, she lives on….and especially in my home.
This Glass Axe along with a ton of pins, hats, shirts and patches came from Key Largo and Palm County Fl. The axe head is signed with all of the local Fire Chief’s signatures. It was an amazing addition to John John’s Firehouse. As I told John, every name is another person who loves him and cares that he is happy and successful.
Here we have The Corner Kingdom Project <~~~ Click there. Her name is Tiffany Gagnon, amazing interior designer! She is the mastermind behind what you see in all of the photos. The creative drive that inspired companies to create beds and dreamscapes for my children to live in. She chooses the finest detail to focus on and makes her rooms come together in a magical fashion. My children certainly think so, and so do I. I am amazed at how she can bring diversity into harmony with its surroundings with small touches of thought, inspiration, and detail. She is a master at what she endeavors and sets out to accomplish. I would strongly urge you to follow her projects and spread the word that she can change lives and has. Her foundation is noteworthy and I would be proud to donate to any endeavor she takes on, because I know her WHOLE heart is in it.
Her sidekick is Fireman Jim Heisler with the Evesham Fire Rescue here in our home area. He was a contractor before he became Fireman Jim, and was the hands and feet of this project on so many levels. He was hands on the entire time. From start to finish. This man is a prodigy. There is nothing I can say to him except, thank you Jim.
When I read this, I cried. Because they really did make dreams come true in our house. Hands down. Tears. I’m still crying just reading the note.
Joe Scialabbo from Venus Electrical <~~~~~~click here, so this guy….this guy….he is amazing. His claim to fame is his electrical work, and he did an amazing job. But, His youngest son was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor 15 years ago. The tumor wrapped around an artery in his brain, so the doctors couldn’t even biopsy it. He is still hanging out in blue on the end. In his early 20’s and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. His son is what I hope John will be at this age, a walking miracle. I can not imagine my son as a 20 something, but I know after meeting this family, that it is possible.
The University Of Pennsylvania Basketball team. Pictured here are Darnell Foreman and Greg Louis and (not pictured) Camryn Crocker, in the fire helmet is the infamous Jim Heisler. These wonderful students have adopted John onto the U Penn Basketball team last season. They came to join in the dream room effort. And we thank them for their hard work. They got the dirty demo job, and rocked it!
This seal and another not pictured here were hand etched by Scott Seal. He is in the Air Force , and decided to put his leather carving talents to use for our son. He carved from leather an Evesham Fire Rescue patch, and painted it by hand. I keep the ribbon he carved with my sons face and his fire dog etched into it, in my wallet. It is a gift that touched some of the deepest parts of my heart. I promise to post a pic of it soon. He captured the likeness of my son so closely, that when I touch it I can feel my son in it. When he gave it to me, I could barely look him in the eye because I knew if I did I would cry. I just keep looking at every detail of these folks hard work and touching them. Thinking of the love that went into creating each it.
Belfor, 7 Belfor family members signed our photo of John and Hope. They all volunteered long hours and a desire to provide our children with every beautiful furnishing they could. From a custom fire truck bed for John to a princess bed for Hope to sleep in. They looked at detail and did their best to really bring out the magical quality of the rooms. They are extremely dedicated in their endeavors and have a non-profit they work through called “Kots for Kids” can find the generous company here <~~~~click here for amazing home remodel and with big hearts and attention to detail. These folks gave us their cell phone numbers in case anything needed touching up or tightening, and gave a general offer for us to call them for anything. They would love to help. Thank You For Everything You Did For Us!
Here is where I really get to say what I NEED to say. There were so many more people, hundreds involved in some level on this project for my son and daughter.
I imagine the pebble in the pond that started this community of support with Fireman Kevin. You can read about that pebble here. The ripples almost 18 months later are astounding and life changing. Kevin was the genesis of a relationship with a community of unconditional love and support. Our family has a safety net of love. Especially John. If things should become difficult for him, or things should progress or change, we know for a fact that none of us would be alone. But, back to that pebble. When you drop a pebble into a pond, the concentric circles ripple toward the shore until the water becomes still again. The pebble sits under the water, ever-present and solid as it was when it was dropped. This is Fireman Kevin. The genesis. An act of love and generosity with no expectation of return.
The people who did this remodel, Jim, Tiffany, Belfor, Joe, Brent, Scott, Kevin, and many hundreds of volunteers and donors. Its like hundreds of people dropping pebbles into our pond of life. They are rippling everywhere and intersecting, and creating a beautiful tapestry of the safety net that our family has in people willing to love and give with no expectation of return.
You are blessed if you can take without forgetting and give without remembering.
I am blessed, because I will never for a moment fail to bring to mind the countless faces that are in the photos of this project. Or how it made me feel. I feel as though my heart has been poured into and I can do this for a while longer again. The path we are on is hard, and unforgiving. We endure day in and day out. We try to not inflict more pain on each other than we already experience. But, This filled our hearts again.
We were in a low spot when this remodel went down. I can say for a fact, that these folks changed everything about our perspective. We are humbled and grateful. We remind our children everyday that so many people love them, they couldn’t count if they tried.
Jim and Tiffany gave John a homework assignment when the remodel was finished. It was to count the number of patches sent in (and are still coming in) from all over the us, and world. We made it to 200 before I began to cry. It is overwhelming to know that many people cared enough to take a moment of their day to say, “hey, we are here for you too. Even if it’s just in a piece of fabric, we are here”.
All I can say is Thank You to every last person involved.
With an overflowing heart, and many tears,
P.S. here is a link to the photos of the build process if you are interested. there are over 200, so these are the folks that made real magic happen.