In February of 2010, a few months shy of my sixteenth birthday, I came across a twitter account for a little girl named Layla Grace. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Layla by now, the bright blue-eyed, adorable toddler whom was fighting something much bigger than her. I had only been following Layla’s story for about a month before her passing in March. From that moment, not only was my life forever changed, my heart was as well. I had no idea the suffering of children all around me. I thought to myself, how can this be happening to babies? Why isn’t anyone listening? I made it my personal mission to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to help these children, in some way, shape or form. The summer following Layla’s death, I began sending care packages to children across the United States. I wasn’t exactly planning for anything big to come out of it, I was just doing something little to brighten the days of children fighting for their lives. I had no idea just the impact these children and childhood cancer would have on me.
As 2011 rolled around, I knew I wanted to turn my small care packages into something much more. I had no clue how I was going to do it, but I wanted to start an organization. There are two songs that have always been favorites of mine – “Ordinary Miracle” and the beautiful “Amazing Grace.” As I was brain-storming ideas, I once again came across these songs… and from that moment, I knew what my organization would be. It would be called “Ordinary Grace.” Ordinary, such as turning seemingly ordinary actions into something remarkable, and Grace, for the simple acts of sheer beauty that come from our hearts. Around the time my organization was getting started, a little boy I had started following the year before was nearing the end of his battle with Neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of childhood cancer. His name was Ronan Sean Thompson. Ronan captured my heart from the very first time I saw his beautiful, sparkling blue eyes. Ronan fought for eight short months before his body simply stopped responding to the chemotherapy. Ronan inspired me to never give up, to fight with absolutely everything I had in me and to help other kids just like him. Ronan was and is my hero.
Ordinary Grace has done more for me, as a person, than ever anticipated. The difference between who I am now and who I was two years ago is breath taking. I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles, but out of struggling, comes beauty. I wake up each morning
with a fresh set of eyes – knowing that I have been blessed with another day, another chance, another opportunity to make someone smile and laugh. My goal is simple. It is to make a difference. It is to love others. It is to see children, whom are fighting for their lives, day in, and day out… smile. When I am delivering a care basket to a child, and I see the way their face lights up with joy and excitement and the burden of their cancer is pushed aside for a moment, the world around me just about stops. I silently say a prayer of thankfulness and gratitude to be given this opportunity. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I would rather be doing – than this.
I will continue on with my journey, forever changed by the children and families I have met. I will continue on with Ronan’s beautiful eyes engraved in my soul.