Since April, my 13 year old son Athen has been trying to raise awareness, trying to make a difference in the lives of disabled kids in Ukraine. It all came together last Saturday…
Let me rewind.
Athen has always had a tender heart. I have always tried to be as real as I can be with him. Even when it is uncomfortable. I wanted him to see from a very young age that people make mistakes, they are all different, they are all important. I taught him that if someone is mean to you, you forgive them and understand that they are that way because they are hurting in some way. I taught him that he should not care what others think and to always be the one guy to lend a helping hand to someone in need. Even if that means people make fun of you. And as the years have gone by, I have been rewarded for this lesson. I have seen time and time again, my son being the only kid to go and ask a much younger kid to be his friend, I have seen him ask kids who are mentally and/or physically disabled if they want to play with him. He has always done this with no regard for his peers and the possible judgment he may face for “befriending the outcast” as other kids might see it.
Athen has never cared about labels. He has never cared what color someone is. He has never cared where someone came from, or what your differences may be. As a mother, this makes me proud. He is the first kid to stop and pray for someone, again, not caring if others judge. I love this about him.
So when Athen wanted to know about Heart of the Young and what I blog about, naturally I was eager to share. However, with it all being so heavy, I was skeptical if he could handle the reality. I made a call, and decided to share.
Naturally his heart broke. But then he stood up and said “Mom, I have to do something to help”.
We began to pray.
Then, I read a post about our friends at Wide Awake International and how they wanted to take the kids outside but only had enough coats and shoes for seven of them to go. I told Athen about it and that is when he knew…
Athen had decided to get approval from school to begin fundraising every day at lunch. He prepared by making bracelets to sell (his Oma and Mom helped too), getting help from his Papa to build a booth, drawing a logo, and making a t-shirt so he could represent well. He began in April at the school fair, and continued to sell until school got out mid June. He was so dedicated.
Then, we decided that we wanted to do more… We really wanted to bless Kim and Jed Jonhnson, founders of Wide Awake Int. with money to make a real difference. So we paired up with a dear friend of mine who is currently adopting two kiddos from China and decided to hold a pancake breakfast benefit at our local Applebees. We all posted fliers, blew up Facebook, shared with local businesses, collected donations for our raffle, and even shared at church. When I say shared at church I mean, Athen got up and spoke to a few hundred middle and high school students at church about what he was doing and how they could help. It was epic! Takes a lot of guts to do that!
So the day came and we got up at the crack of dawn, kids in tow and headed to Applebee’s. We had not sold our minumum 100 tickets so Applbee’s gave us a special deal and so with 54 tickets sold online, we held it anyway. Well, all I can say is we are so blessed. All the people who came to serve, help and just support us, we could not be more happy! We did not sell many at the door tickets, but all in all we did well. Athen stood at his booth selling t-shirts and bracelets. The raffle was a hit too!
We are excited to share how much we raised from all efforts, but not quite yet. Why? Well…
We are hoping for some more t-shirt orders. Proceeds go to Wide Awake International to help orphans in need! We are trying to fill orders so that we can get a final tally on the amount that Athen (pictured) raised for them through school fundraising, the pancake breakfast and t-shirt sales. Anyone interested in buying a t-shirt to support Athen’s cause? For $25 you can choose white or black shirt, men or women’s (women’s are v-neck) All have a solid red logo and the small letters H.O.T.Y. horizontal on the arm (If we can get them to do it for us! Otherwise it will be on the back.). Either way it will look cool! And H.O.T.Y. is a conversation starter! Heart of the Young! Wear your support for kids with disabilities and the message of Heart of the Young! To order, go here http://mkt.com/heartoftheyoung
Stay tuned for the final number which we will be donating to Wide Awake!!!