August 13, 2014
Ten years ago today, Gabe’s My Heart was incorporated. This was the first step toward providing Chemo Ducks to thousands of children across the nation and beyond. Truth be told, I never set out to own a business. I had no idea how to start a non-profit and I was more than a little anxious but I had been approached by so many friends about how to get a duck that I felt I should try. I just knew there was a need and I felt called to try and help fill it.
Some people may not truly understand what Chemo Duck actually does or why he is so important to kids living with cancer. Without seeing him in action, it’s easy to mistake him for just another stuffed animal. There have been so many situations over the last 10 years that have brought me to tears or left me awake all night filled with anxiety. But it is through those moments and the lives I’ve seen turned upside down because of cancer that the reason Chemo Duck exists becomes so clear. Children, their families and even the medical staff depend on Chemo Duck to help them through the treatment process and no matter how challenging things may get, I will continue to beg, borrow and work my fingers to the bone to deliver Chemo Ducks to these kids because they need him.
The reason Chemo Duck works is because the intervention he provides comes at the very beginning of treatment, he steps up at a time when everyone is lost and looking for their role. He gives parents a view into their child’s mind and he gives children a way to express themselves. Our focus has always been to help guide families through that initial, brutal first few weeks and then to provide much-needed comfort and companionship to the kids for years to come. For me, one of the toughest parts of Gabe’s journey was trying to find a way to comfort him and to be a part of his treatment. Little did I know that my search to find a way to help my son would turn into something that could aid other parents in providing support to their children as well! It brings me so much comfort to know that through our journey, we have been able to help families feel less alone and give them a tool to initiate conversation and emotional healing.
Over the last decade there have been many changes and the program has grown into far more than just a stuffed duck. We have come up with a variety of resources, games, videos and other educational tools to help kids cope with cancer. And I have YOU to thank for that! I am surrounded by people who truly believe in what we are doing – some of whom have been there since day one and others who have recently come on board and all of you have made immeasurable differences in helping to achieve our mission. Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is stronger than ever and I could not be more grateful and proud of what we have achieved together.
Gabe and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and for being such an integral part of our journey. We look forward to the next 10 years with Chemo Duck and to proving huggable hope to all of the brave children and families facing cancer along the way!