Why Heroes For Children Is My Passion - In Honor Of National Childhood Cancer Month

By Jo Trizila, President & CEO of TrizCom Public Relations

Every person, every business has a reason for choosing their nonprofit partner. Let’s face it: one has to be choosy when picking a volunteer activity (whether it’s a board of director’s seat, charity gala volunteer or organization volunteer). We have only so many hours in the week that we can spare outside our family and work commitments.

I met the founders of Heroes for Children when I was a young 30-something-year-old with little financial resources but I did have connections and nonprofit experience. I took a meeting with Larissa and Jenny, Heroes co-founders, to see how I could help them. The timing wasn’t good, and I was already over committed to other projects – but I never forgot about them. Years would pass, jobs would change, situations altered and now I find myself on the board of directors for the second year and Heroes for Children has become TrizCom’s one and only pro bono account.

Heroes for Children provides financial and social assistance to families who have a child with cancer. Sometimes we help pay mortgage payments, give gas cards, pay for a prom dress, give a 6-year-old a birthday, supply a teenager a laptop so they can keep up with friends and schoolwork while undergoing treatment, or it might even be to pay the expense of banking a teenager’s sperm cells so one day he might be able to have biological children of his own. Unfortunately, we are also the organization that families come to when they have lost a child and need help laying them to rest.

I have stayed awake late at night trying to figure out how to do more for Heroes. I have wept because of our kiddos with Heroes. And I have never smiled more than with the work we do with Heroes. In short, my passion lies with Heroes for Children, and it is deeply personal.

When I was 13 years old, in the middle of my 7th grade year, I developed a brain abscess that was considered inoperable. My parents had just changed insurance and the company denied coverage, stating the abscess was a preexisting condition. Following emergency brain surgery and months in the hospital to treat the abscess, I contracted hepatitis. After the hepatitis, I developed aplastic anemia from a drug given to me to treat the brain abscess. The only cure for this disease was a bone marrow transplant. At the time, 1985, there were only two hospitals in the United States doing this “experimental” transplant, and we were lucky enough that Baylor Hospital was one of the two. Once again, insurance denied coverage – this time because the transplant was “experimental.”

As a 13-year-old, I had no idea what stress my parents were absorbing. As a mother today, I simply don’t know how they faced each day. The brain abscess was inoperable, and I was told that my odds of coming out of surgery were very, very slim due to the location. My odds of surviving an experimental bone marrow transplant were just as low. Bills upon bills upon bills piled up. I was critical most nights, and either my mom or my dad would stay with me while still trying to run their travel agency business and care for my younger brother. To help, they flew my grandmother in to stay with me during the day. My poor brother was left with friends for most of 1985.

During the darkest days come some of the brightest memories. Our church at the time, First Presbyterian Church of Richardson, unbeknownst to us, took up a special collection one Sunday. They came to the hospital and gave my parents a check for a couple thousand dollars with no strings attached. My parents, to this day, say that it was like someone handed them a million dollars. I have experienced firsthand how the generosity of others impacts a family’s life.

So fast forward 30 years. I feel like I am able to give back to the hundreds of strangers who helped me and my family back in 1985. No one ever wishes a child to be sick. No one ever plans for a child to be sick. But thank God there are organizations like Heroes that families can turn to in their darkest days.

I think what hurts me the most is that we are not able to help every family that needs us. There is so much more we can do. Our average gift to a Heroes’ family is a mere $750. There have been times when we lose one of the kiddos we’ve helped and it literally takes a little piece of your soul each time. These are the days when I crawl into my sleeping daughter’s bed and hold her tight.

Cancer SUCKS. It SUCKS even more when it happens to an innocent child. Cancer doesn’t care if you are black, brown or white. It doesn’t care if you are a millionaire or if you are living below the poverty line. It doesn’t care if you have insurance or you don’t. When a child has cancer, it is a crisis for the entire family. Your normal life is now turned upside down, and you have a new normal to learn. A life of treatments, short-term and long-term side effects, tests, procedures, transplants, trials, caregivers for your other children, and the list goes on and on and on.

You hear this all the time: you really don’t understand a parent’s love until you become a parent, and boy, no truer statement has ever been made. A parent’s love is unlike any other love I have known. You are your child’s protector, you are her fighter, you are his voice, you are her nursemaid, and when you can’t be…. well, that’s the definition of true, honest, gut-wrenching, hopeless pain. At Heroes, we frequently hear stories that a mom or dad lost their job because their boss made them choose between spending the night with their scared, terminally ill child vs. coming into work. Or the mom who had to move to a major city so her baby could get treated and still had to figure out how to pay her mortgage/rent back home.

So this is why I support Heroes for Children. No family should EVER have to fight this alone!

When you go home tonight and are in the middle of evening chaos (trying to cook dinner, answering the cell phone, telling someone to get off the iPad and do their homework, letting the dog out…), stop for one minute and imagine if today, you were one of 43 families who were told that your baby has cancer. What would you do? Would you be financially prepared for such a diagnosis? Would you have a network of supporters? Would you be stable enough to fight this battle? Honestly, I don’t think I would be – but you do what you have to do for your children. What I do know, my first call would be to Heroes for Children. 

For the families we help and for the thousands we simply don’t have enough money to help, please consider a recurring $25 gift a month with our Heroes for Children from The Heart Monthly Giving Circle. Think about it – that’s less than six Starbucks coffees a month. Your donation will help fund a computer, a mother’s groceries, a dad paying to keep the electricity turned on. It makes a real difference. We see it every single day. Please go here: http://www.heroesforchildren.org/get-involved/from-the-heart-monthly-giving-circle/.

TrizCom PR is proud to donate Heroes for Children public relations. Here are a few of our favorite Heroes’ stories:

You may be thinking, why is this blog on a public relations site? Well, part of our job as PR folks is to tell our client’s stories to targeted publications. You read this entire blog post, yes? Your awareness and consideration is higher for Heroes for Children than it was before reading the story, yes? This is true because you read a story. Storytelling is a great tactic in any public relations strategy.

At TrizCom PR we tell our clients that an effective story has transparency, is authentic, has a human interest angle, provokes emotion and contains visuals.

As the king of marketing, Seth Godin, says, “Marketing is storytelling.”

Everyone has a story. Let us help you tell your story.

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