Kyla McCullough

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Look At What You Did

This is what it is all about...all of you who supported our first annual Kyla McCullough Gift Fund Benefit Dinner and Auction last June...this is what it was all about. Coming out of that successful evening, Kyla's gift fund was able to sponsor two wishes at The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon. We just recently received short stories and photographs about each of the two wishes and we wanted to be sure to pass them on to each of you...look at what you did.

Emily, age 11, from McMinnville. I wish to Disneyland© Resort
"Emily qualifies for a wish because she suffers from Rett Syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder. Her illness confines her to a wheel chair which makes it difficult for her family to travel. Emily cannot speak as well as other children, but she communicates well; her smile said it all when she was at 'the happiest place on earth'. 'Toy Story' is her absolute favorite movie. She watches it over and over, and her excitement was palpable when she found out she could meet the characters for her wish. Her favorite part of the wish, by far, was meeting Woody from 'Toy Story'. She did not only get to meet him, but sat in the front row for a show including Woody, Jesse and Bullseye. Emily’s mom wrote a touching note to the Foundation saying that the pampering they received on their wish trip cannot be repeated ever."

There are so many mixed emotions for me when I look at these photos of Emily and read her story. I can relate the most with the 2nd photo of Emily, where she is on a ride with her parents on each side of her. It is so incredibly difficult to watch your child battle with physical issues that are beyond everyone's can consume your every moment and thought, many times being too much to bear. And then during the most difficult of times, an organization like Make-A-Wish steps in and grants your child's wish, no questions asked. That uplifting action at that worst of times is one of the greatest gifts that a family in that situation could ever receive. I look at that photo and I see a family that despite the challenges they face, are overjoyed to be experiencing that moment together. I am sure it is a moment they will never forget. Thank you Make-A-Wish.

Mitchell, age 17, from Forest Grove. I wish to have...a two-post truck lift
"Mitchell is like a typical teenage boy because he loves trucks. He owns a 1992 Toyota Pickup and a 1992 Ford Ranger. He is unlike a typical teenager because he suffers from Burkitt’s Lymphoma and spends a lot of time in the hospital. He likes to work on his trucks in the family garage, which was recently built for that purpose. When his volunteer wish granters asked Mitchell what he would wish for, it was definitely something for the trucks, but it took a while to come up with the perfect thing. He decided on a two-post truck lift so he could walk under the vehicles and work from a standing position. Working on trucks is simply what makes him happy. In addition to the truck lift, Mitchell wanted some tools, and received gift cards from the Foundation towards his new set. More than 40 friends and family members came to celebrate the new garage and Mitchell’s wish-come-true."

When I look at the photos of Mitchell, I see a 17 year old teenage boy. I think that is what strikes me the most about his photos...Mitchell is fighting for his life and you would never know it just looking at him. Kids that are diagnosed with cancer are just regular kids that for some reason have been given the incredible challenge of battling cancer.

From Mitchell's story, I am also reminded to do things that make you simple as it sounds, life is too short to spend your time on things that you do not enjoy.

Through my own experiences as Kyla's father, I think one of the most important lessons that I have learned is to make every day count. I have learned that life goes by fast and there are no promises for tomorrow. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of every day...but take the time for your loved ones, do things you have been wanting to do...take that family vacation. You will be so glad you did...and nobody can take that away from you.

Thank you to everyone that supported last year's benefit dinner and auction...regardless of how big or small your contribution was, I hope that you take a sense of pride in what you helped accomplish. You deserve it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Making a Difference

Missing Kyla is a feeling I have daily. Yes, some days are less then others and when those days come it is a nice relief. I have been speaking to a lot of people lately about Kyla and it still amazes me how much of a loss others feel, even now. Kyla's story touches so many people and it makes me wonder and ask the question again.... why did Kyla have to leave us? It seems odd to me that there are some people in the world who make a difference in life while they are here and working hard for it. Then there are others who make more of a difference after their light goes out. I'm not sure why God decided to take Kyla early other then He knew her name would make a difference in other children, and their families lives.

Bret and I are in contact with both Make-A-Wish and Doernbecher Children's Hospital and they are very excited about what we are doing. Slowly but surely Kyla's story is getting out, it's been a wonderful thing, and that is what is most important to us. We want to help as many children as we can, but with Kyla's name and Kyla's story to tell. At our last meeting with our group of co-coordinators, Bret and I showed them the families our last years benefit dinner sponsored. The emotions were somber; It was so surreal for all of us to see...those of us who are participating in the endeavor, really are making a difference. Bret and I are blown away by this and feel so blessed that we were able to put smiles on faces of families who are experiencing such pain in their lives.

I know I have written this before, and I'm sure it will be in every entry from now until the night of the event, but please mark your calendars for April 12th. This year is going to be so much fun for all of us, and the things we are planning for this event are huge! I cannot believe some of the things we are coming up's incredible! I just feel like everything is getting enhanced this year... that's very good but very scary all at the same time. It's nice to have the people we have around us to push us in this direction that is right for the fund.

Let me tell you a little more about the night of April 12th. If you are not aware of this yet, the event will be at the Crystal Ballroom located in downtown Portland. We are letting people know they can start to show up at 6 p.m. to start browsing around the room at all the auction items (which I must say are already very awesome, and we've just begun!). Please do not get intimidated by the parking or the drive...there are plenty of parking structures near the Crystal Ballroom. If you are worried about the drive for your way home that night we do have rooms at the Embassy Suites designated for that night. There will be an option for you to sign up for a room on the reservation form that will be going out soon. More information will come soon, keep checking in to see.

This really is a good thing, and we know that if you become a part of it you will not be disappointed. Donating your time to The Kyla McCullough Gift Fund is not only rewarding but it gives you a way to contribute, if you don't know how to otherwise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

God's Lovely Promise

When Kyla went to Heaven, it didn't take us long to figure out that we were not going to let her name die. KYLA... it is a name that I found in a baby name book a week before she was born. Bret and I had not been successful in coming up with a name for a girl... we didn't think we were having a girl anyway. Bret came from a family of all boys so we figured our first child would be a boy, we didn't find out before hand, we wanted that surprise. So a girls name was needed but not that necessary, so we thought. I took this book and wrote down the names that would work... gave it to Bret and he looked at the names and what they meant. I told Bret we needed to find a name pretty quick seeing I was about to deliver and who knows we could have a girl. He looked up a page and Kyla was the first name. He said, "What about Kyla?" I looked at him, "Yeah that was one of the names on the list." It took a while but we finally decided on a name, which was a good thing because four days later I gave birth to our oldest daughter, Kyla-Elizabeth McCullough.

We are planning our next dinner and silent auction for 2008. If you have read past entries you will know we were trying to get a date for spring, and possibly a different venue. Well, we have been doing a lot of work with Lisa Ramage and we have all decided on a date as well as a place. Please mark your calendars for April 12, 2008.... and plan on seeing us at The Crystal Ballroom! We have been blessed enough to have the people at The Crystal Ballroom work with us and they have met all of our needs and expectations. It is going to be so much fun, and we are going to help so many children with cancer... we are ready to start helping children once again, and we hope you are too!

We are hoping to target Doernbecher this year. We will tell you more about that when we get more information... like I said we are still working hard on this. But if you have a chance in your busy schedule, take a few hours to go to that hospital, go the ninth floor, and see what these kids are living with. It is an eye opening experience and it will move you in a way that you will never forget. We have more people willing to help us make this year even bigger then last year, we've got live music once again and some possible surprises with that, and we hope the auction is even better then the last. We are working on a cool video of Kyla that we can show durning the program... video no one has seen before. Basically the thought of doing this fundraiser for the children in that hospital is so heartwarming and having it be in Kyla's name brings it over the top for us.

The name Kyla means, lovely. The name Elizabeth means, God's promise. Doesn't that seem fitting? I had to giggle when I did my research because you can quickly say that Kyla-Elizabeth is "God's lovely promise." It seems as if it was always meant to be.