Hearing a doctor utter the words “You have cancer” is one of the most heartbreaking things in the world. Similarly, it’s a terrible feeling when a close friend or family member tells you they have cancer. Things like this can happen to anyone, but we all hope and pray that it never happens to us.
Well, things were really put into perspective for me this past summer when I found out a close friend’s little sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her name is Kellyn, and she was only 16 years old when she was diagnosed. I have known several people being diagnosed with cancer, but I never would have expected it to happen to an innocent 16 year old! It’s tough and we never think it could happen to those dear to us. However, that thought changed completely when everyone heard Kellyn had cancer. Nobody ever would have expected it.
The best way to describe little Miss Kellyn is by describing the love for life that she has. You never see her without a smile on her face. No matter what she is going through, she always remains happy. And even throughout her entire cancer experience, she still remained happy and positive (she probably handled it better than any of us, to be honest).
Everybody’s thoughts included: “Out of all people, why her? She’s one of the sweetest girls anyone could know.” But once that thought process was out of the way, all we wanted to do was help her through the situation. What could we do, though?
We could do a lot, actually! Kellyn has so much family and so many friends that it was not very hard to get a lot of support for her. Her family started the process by holding a fundraiser at Blackberry Oaks Golf Course in Bristol, Illinois; this golf outing helped pay for some of her medical expenses. The banquet/fundraiser turned out to be very successful, and it brought in a lot of money for medical expenses. But there were still a few other things that needed to be paid for.
For example, Kellyn had to go through chemotherapy, and she was losing her hair day by day. One day, her sister finally shaved her hair off for her, which was an extremely difficult thing to do. Now, I know that losing your hair probably doesn’t seem that important when your entire life is at stake. But girls, come on — let’s face it. Being a 16-year-old girl (or any age, for that matter) with no hair would be unbearably difficult!
This is where promotional products came into effect and helped Kellyn in a huge way. Her older sister found an easy way to raise money for Kellyn to get a wig — by reselling personalized support items. They sold blue cancer ribbons printed with the phrase “Praying for Kell,” which friends and family put on their cars to support her. They also sold blue wristbands with the same phrase and encouraged people to wear them in honor of Kellyn. A few of her friends also put together t-shirts and proudly wore them to football games, tennis matches, and other busy social events. A few of of the guys even went as far as shaving their heads to support their good friend!
So, what did Kellyn gain from this fundraising effort? The promotional products raised enough money for her to get two wigs! Because of that, she was able to attend her homecoming dance looking as beautiful as ever, and she was even able to do simple things — like shopping at the mall or going to the movies — without being embarrassed. And the best news of all? Kellyn has been cancer-free for two months, and she’s living life like she always has!
Kellyn’s family and friends weren’t the first to use promo items to raise money, and they won’t be the last. There are lots of cool fundraising ideas out there, but you have to pick the ones that work best for the situation at hand, just as I’ve illustrated here. Think outside the norms and you’ll be on your way to meeting your fundraiser goals!
Have you ever used promo items to raise money for a good cause? Would you have chosen different promotional products for the job? What do you think about this fundraising initiative?