Thursday, December 17, 2009
I just wanted to take time out of my busy holiday season and thank each of you for being there for me in 2009. It was a tough year for Efrain and I and at the same time a year of so much love and support!
I continue to be amazed by the small miracles that happen around me everyday. Whether it be something as small as a phone call from an old friend changing my day, Elena saying something to make me smile, or my family always being at my side. I was truly blessed to see the premiere of a movie coming out in January, entitled "Extraordinary Measures", a true story about a father that risks everything to save his children's lives. It was an incredible film and such an inspiration! One of the themes of the film is 'make miracles happen"! And I left the movie wanting to do just that. Miracles don't have to be finding a cure for a disease or making a huge impact on the world. Miracles can be as small as providing a gift to a needy family, giving Elena's old clothes to a refugee family giving birth to a daughter this December, or making a necklace to raise awareness for Alzheimer's Association and Trisomy 18 Foundation. These small acts create lasting impressions, everyday miracles that do make a difference in someone's life.
With that said, I received an email this morning that the Trisomy 18 Foundation won the first round of a Chase Community Giving Program. See the email below. It made me so happy and I thank anyone of you that voted in Round 1. Please be sure to vote again during Round 2, again your small act could mean that no family will have to deal with the diagnosis of Trisomy 18 for their unborn child, believe me when i say that would be a HUGE miracle!
I wish each of you a wonderful holiday, and happy new year.
We did it! We did it! Late yesterday afternoon, we got the call and heard, "Trisomy 18 Foundation is one of 100 winning organizations chosen in Round 1 of the Chase Community Giving Program." I screamed and then I cried – happy, happy tears!
Your Votes and the votes of your Friends on Facebook made it all Happen! Trisomy 18 will now receive a $25,000 Grant from Chase AND we get to advance to Round 2 for a chance to win one of 6 final awards ranging from $100,000 to $1 million for Trisomy 18 programs! Imagine!!
Mark your calendars: Round 2 voting will begin Jan 15th through Jan 22nd.
So we'll have more news to follow about gearing up for the BIG VOTE and the REALLY BIG BUCKS that could change it all for Trisomy 18 into the future in January! Our community is primed and ready! And together we can make this happen! I know it!
Be sure and become a FAN on the Trisomy 18 Facebook Page if you are not already right here: http://www.facebook.com/trisomy18.
Chase Community Giving You can also share that web address with everyone you know to get our FAN base on Facebook as large as possible before the Big Vote. Numbers and networking and social media are going be the key to our success come Jan 15th when the vote begins!
But for now – It's our time to celebrate this tremendous honor and bless all the children we know with Trisomy 18 we carry in our lives and in our hearts who have inspired us to come together in community to be their voices in the world.
And have you noticed? When we come together and speak and act as one, our voice is powerful and we CAN have an impact!
Thank you for investing your vote in The Trisomy 18 Foundation where together we ensure that no family learns about Trisomy 18 and walks this journey alone.
no matter how fragile their life
brief their days,
forever changes our world."
- Victoria Miller -
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
"The miracle is not that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start"
-John "the penguin" Bingham, Runner's World columnist
It has been over a week since I finished my 10th Half Marathon in Richmond. It was a great weekend, and the race was a success. My sister and I finished hand in hand. While it was not our fastest race, it was my most emotional. I broke down at the finish line and I am thankful for the amazing people that I met along the 13.1 miles. One man was running his first half marathon after losing 50 pounds, another woman was a kidney donor and was running for Donate Life, and yet another woman was running her first half marathon and she too had lost a baby and we watched her cross the finish line! It truly is amazing what inspires someone to do an endurance event. But no matter what the motivation, crossing the finish line makes you feel like an Olympic athlete. You feel like you can do anything and you have the courage to make miracles happen.
The Richmond Half Marathon was exactly 16 weeks from the day that we lost Alex. I was sixteen weeks pregnant and Elena was 16 months old. "It Was a Sweet Sixteen", that is the title of my blog and that is the number that keeps popping up whenever I think about Alex. So..as fate would have it..my sister and I checked into our hotel, got settled into our room and met our friend that was running in her first half marathon. She happened to be a minister and asked if we wanted to say a good luck prayer with her. We agreed and she asked me about the picture that I would be wearing on race day. I explained that I was running this half marathon in memory of my dear baby Alex. Just like that I turned to our room and that is when I got chills, our room number, 1116. It was as if Alex was telling me that he was there with me to give me the courage to finish this race.
The Half Marathon may be over, but my race has just begun! I plan to do another half marathon in the spring and I have made it my new goal to do at least 1 half marathon (or marathon) a year for the next 16 years. It is my hope that I can honor his memory and at the same time, his sister Elena (and hopefully other siblings) will see how much he meant to me and perhaps will learn the importance of finding courage in the face of adversity.
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We all know the expression "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade". I have seen first hand how your life can change in one moment. I watch friends and family go through the death of the loved one, divorce, unaccomplished dreams..and it is not the loss itself that changes you, it is how you deal with your loss that defines who you will become. I mentioned before that Alex taught me so much in just 16 weeks and I am a different person because of the dream of him. I decided right after losing Alex that I would "decide to get better and not bitter". I can not feel sorry for myself when life does not go the way that I plan, instead, I look at what I can do to "make lemonade' from the lemons I receive and enjoy it's sweetness every day!
I continue to raise money for the Trisomy 18 Foundation. I plan to wear a picture of my baby Alex in my womb on my race day shirt. And I plan to continue raising funds after my race is over. I have raised a little over $1000 and while my goal is $1600 to represent the 16 weeks of knowing and loving Alex, I am happy with the support and donations that I have received and I will continue to raise money to reach my goal. If you are reading this and wish to donate go to www.trisomy18.org/goto/alexramirez My half marathon this weekend is just one way that I am taking my loss and doing something productive and positive. I plan to continue my pursuit of happiness and a day does not go by that I do not thank Alex for helping me find myself again, I will forever be grateful to him.
I do plan to continue blogging after my half marathon and i hope you will continue to follow my blog. I am sure that the holidays will prove to be difficult for Efrain and I , especially Christmas. I still think about how exciting it would be to welcome Alex home for the holidays. To give Elena a baby brother and enjoy the holiday with the new addition to our family. But I also think about how blessed I am to have an amazing family that has been my rock over the past 4 months. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and thanking them for being there for me.
Wish me luck this weekend, I am looking forward to spending time with my sister and completing a half marathon with a purpose and goal accomplished.
“If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit.” --Oprah
Thursday, October 22, 2009
As part of my half marathon in just 22 days (UGH!!), I have made it a goal to raise $1600 for the Trisomy 18 Foundation to honor Alex and hopefully be able to help other families dealing with a Trisomy 18 diagnosis. I have raised about $800 thus far, so I am half way there! I decided on $1600 as may goal as part of my "It was a Sweet Sixteen", as I was 16 weeks pregnant when we lost Alex. I have been training for 16 weeks for my half marathon and thus $1600 would be another symbol of my bitter sweet journey of healing. I feel like I have learned so much about myself and others throughout this ordeal and I hope that my words and my goals will help someone else smile through there sorrow and know that you can make a difference!
With that said, I am hosting a fundraiser at aMuse Toys –Fells Point Location
1623 Thames Street on Tuesday, October 27 from 6-8 p.m aMuse will donate 20% of in store purchases (6-8pm), 15% (all day) of online purchases made at www.amusetoys.com
(use code “Trisomy” at checkout).
I hope you will join me. I plan to buy a few toys for Elena and I can only hope that Alex will be smiling down on October 27 knowing that I am doing this for him, to show how much he will always mean to me. His short life was not in vain, his legacy is that he has shown me that I can do all that is in my power to help other families and hopefully through awareness and fundraising, one day Trisomy 18 will not be a diagnosis that any family will have to know.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This weeks blog is especially difficult for me. I have been having a very tough week and I have been thinking about what I would write for about 3 days now. Where do I begin?
For those of you that don't know me, my nephew, Jason, passed away in July 2007, after injuries sustained from a fatal car accident. He would be turning 21 this coming Saturday, October 17, 2009. My family and I will be celebrating Jason's life on Saturday and while remembering him does bring us peace, it is hard to believe that his life was so short, he will never know my children, he will never have children of his own and he will never grow old with the rest of us.
In addition, tomorrow, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I attended an event at GBMC this past Sunday to memorialize all babies born too soon and it was really uplifting and heart wrenching at the same time. Each family received a candle to create a "wave of light" tomorrow around the world. We are each asked to light a candle at 7pm in all time zones, all over the world. If everyone lights a candle at 7 pm and keeps it burning for at least one hour, there will be a continuous "wave of light" over the entire world on October 15th. The candle burns in memory of our loving babies, born too soon but loved forever.
Since losing Alex, I have made it a goal to create a necklace design in his memory. I wanted to create something that was symbolic to me but could also be a universal symbol for anyone wishing to support my cause. I know right away that the name of the necklace would be "Eternal Love". Because no matter what your motivation for purchasing this necklace, "eternal love" is a powerful phrase for every aspect of your life. To me, "eternal love" proves that even though I will never be able to hold my baby, my love for him will last a lifetime. And even though I will be celebrating my nephew's birthday without him, he is always in my heart.
The "Eternal Love" Necklace will be available as early as tomorrow on my etsy website, www.tuvida.etsy.com , as it is very important for me to showcase this necklace on October 15th. A will be donating $10 from the sale of each necklace back to both Trisomy 18 Foundation and Donate Life. My nephew donated his organs through Donate Life and it is the official charity of the Richmond Marathon and Half Marathon.
Today is one month til race day!! I am getting nervous for the 13.1 mile distance but I know that Alex and Jason will give me the strength to run, walk or crawl to the finish line. My goal of completing this half marathon in memory of Alex and Jason is only part of the journey...I plan to run with love in my heart and I hope to inspire others to turn sadness into motivation, death into life...life is too short to sit around and do nothing, we must live it and challenge ourselves to always be better!
"True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure, without violent demonstrations; it is seen with white hairs and is always young in the heart."
Friday, October 2, 2009
"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us, when adversity takes the place of prosperity, when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us...still she will cling to us, and endeavor by her kind preceps and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause peace to return to our hearts."
As I talk to more and more mothers about the fate of my Alex, I am always meeting such amazing and strong women that share a common bond..strength. Motherhood changes a person, for the better, and whether you have the joy of knowing your child for a lifetime, 19 years, 4 years or only in the womb, you are a stronger more courageous person for being a mom.
I have been amazed how many women have reached out to me and shared their stories of miscarriage, stillbirth or child's death with me in the hopes that I will understand the pain that I feel is not alone, I am not the first women to endure such pain and I will not be the last. Being a woman is a emotional roller coaster, one that I will gladly ride again and again.
I recently ran into a mom whom I have met through my business and she shared with me that she miscarried at 10 weeks with her second child. She now has 3 perfect, adorable boys and she said that while having another baby will never replace the despair in your heart, holding the next baby in your arms is the greatest sense of hope and strength. She also explained that she thinks we (as women) are so incredibly brave, because no matter how painful having to loss an infant feels, as a woman, you just know that you want to try again, and even though you know it will be difficult and emotional..the joy of motherhood is worth it!
I also have been amazed by the strength of many women I know that have dealt with a difficult diagnosis for their child. A friend from high school has kept me in the loop as her son had his first stroke 4 years ago, when he was just an infant. She is so brave, and I asked her if I could share some of her words through my blog:
'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. Concentrate on this sentence... 'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.'
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I was really struggling this past week to motivate myself to run and to inspire myself to stay positive. I would have been 6 months pregnant this week and I found myself feeling very sad last week. Saturday morning I woke up excited to cheer for the runners and find a sense of hope from these selfless individuals so dedicated to a cause. It did not take long for me to be re-inspired that morning. What an amazing group. First of all, everyone ran with a smile on their face the entire 21 or 13 miles. The "Team Unforgettable" , as they are called, was just that, unforgettable and my motivation for the week ahead, both physically and emotionally. I am in awe of how a group of strangers can come together and bring so much awareness to a cause while inspiring others to challenge themselves to do something that forces you to look outside your own comfort zone and accomplish a goal that many only dream about.
That is when the idea hit me about Paying It Forward. That is essentially what these folks are doing. Many on the team do have a personal connection to Alzheimer's disease, and others still, don't know anyone who has ever been affected by the disease. They are simply good people doing a good deed, paying it forward in the hopes that their $1600 will mean a cure will one day be possible. If more people looked at small deeds having large outcomes, the world would be a better place.
With that said, that is my goal this week, Pay it Forward. I left the NCR Trail that morning feeling motivated to do my first deed. So..I stopped for a coffee and paid for the gentleman behind me, he seemed confused at first, but as we left the Starbuck's, he simply smiled and thanked me for my generousity. Later that day, Efrain offered a homeless man $10, the look on his face said it all, $10 meant he would not go hungery that one day. I will never know if that gentleman passed on my good deed, or if the homeless man did get himself a good meal, but I have to beleive that our small token will play a larger role in someone's live one day. Afterall, that is why people join Team Unforgettable. They know that their funds will not find a cure tomorrow, but it will be a catalyst in finding a cure for someone's father, mother, grandmother, sister and wife.
I have to remind myself that is why I am training for the Richmond Half Marathon. I have made it a goal to raise $1600 for Trisomy 18 Foundation. I know that my funds will help researchers continue to find a way to prevent Trisomy 18 from affecting any fetus. Just recently I joined the Trisomy 18 foundation Facebook Page, and saw a great article on a a breakthrough research at University of Florida, in which they beleive that doctor's may be getting closer to determining what causes chromosome abnormalities such as Trisomy 18 and how this can be prevented in the future. This research is possible because of funds raised through the Foundation. Not only that, but it provides vital awareness and a caring community for families faced with such a diagnosis. No one should have to go through the pain and suffering that I felt this past June, and I will continue to do all that I can to play my small part in making sure Alex's Legacy lives on through my efforts to raise funds and awareness for Trisomy 18 Foundation.
I urge everyone to Pay It Forward in some way in your live. If you have a cause that has affected someone close to you, a friend, a neighbor, a relative, be proactive and do something to make a change. Whether it be training for a marathon, walking in a 5K or volunteering for the Red Cross, your small deed plays a bigger role in someone's life, if not today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year...it is not important when, but simply that you can and will make a difference and that is all that really matters.