We here at CJ's ThumbsUp Foundation often post photos of financial assistance grants going out in the mail with the caption, "This is why we're here" or publish updates about this event or that, trying to keep everyone energized about the mission of CJSTUF.org.
But that's only part of it.
A large chunk of why this non-profit exists is because of a little girl named Charlotte Jennie who was born on July 9, 2005, seven years ago today. SHE’S why this thing exists at all.
So many of you already know about Charlotte (CJ) that it seems ridiculously redundant to retell the story but what we will say is that because of this amazing, adorable, courageous, intelligent, curly-haired girl, and the way she charmed everyone she met (still seems to), we are moved to try and keep that energy moving forward.
It is very difficult to think that our little Monkey Butt would have just finished her second year of school, that she would now be swimming or going to camp, that we would be taking trips to see grandparents…
But that’s not the reality with which we’ve been entrusted.
The reality is that at any one time there might be upwards of 70 families of children receiving treatment on the 7th floor of VCU/Children’s Hospital of Richmond and so many others moving through the various outpatient clinics.
The reality is that we just sent out 10 more Financial Assistance Grants totaling $5,000 and that just barely brought us even with demand FOR NOW.
The reality is that there are many, many other parents, grandparents, siblings, and caregivers all struggling to keep it together right now, at this very moment, through the worst nightmare imaginable.
The reality is that, because of Charlotte’s inspiration, upon which we draw every day, you have been moved to support our mission which, in turn, gives us a very strong coping mechanism allowing us to face each day as it comes. Please believe it when we say that some days the act of getting out of bed seems like more than we can bear.
Today is one of those days. But we WILL get out of bed because of Charlotte and what this Foundation has become to those who have built it and to those who have benefitted from it (some of the same people fit into both categories).
So Rachel will go to her first day of school at The Dominion School For Autism as principal and Roger will meet donors and do his show at WHAN Radio. Many will raise a chocolate milk toast and watch Mary Poppins or Finding Nemo or Lady and the Tramp or one of her other favorite movies (she had several). A listen to the Curious George Soundtrack is in order as well. Or giving "five" to Snook from "Big, Big World."
Hopefully all will be inspired to be more than they are right now and keep growing from there.
This is why we’re here.
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.