(Now don't go skipping to the end, or you'll miss all the really awesome details in this story!)
Wayyyyyy back in early February, I received a message from the Director of Love Fosters Hope, Cindy Mericle, telling me that this year's grand fundraising prize was going to be a trip to Disney World. (I coach a Couch to 5K running group that runs in the Run for Hope as its Completion Race, so she knew I'd be running and likely fundraising as well.) The Run for Hope raises funds for Love Fosters Hope to send kids in the foster care system to camp. She said, "I think it would be so cool if a family who adopted a child from the foster care system won the trip to Disney!"
Get Busy Winning
I posted this status update on Facebook immediately upon learning the news (because, well, you know the power of social media to make things happen, and I wanted to get busy winning!)
Which was immediately followed by this post on my son, Jacob's, Facebook wall:
A Very Unexpected GiftNot too many days had passed when a young woman by the name of Jessica Fraser reached out to me, via Facebook. Jessica knew of our family because she had taken an AP class with Jacob in High School, had seen his post, and was writing to explain to me that she really wanted our family to go to Disney World. She had already made a donation to my fundraising efforts, but wanted to find a way to make sure we got to go.
Ultimately, Jessica, her family, Mona Lane (Disney Planner) and a large group of her Jessica's friends and coworkers made the decision to send Mike and I and the Twinderellas on an all expense paid trip to Disney World.
The decision to send our family to Disney World was based on the Fraser family's desire to do something more in this world, to leave a heartprint instead of a footprint by doing something incredibly generous for someone else in the world. As part of their "heartprint project" her two sons, Jimmy and Jackson (ages 3 and 4) gave up their birthday parties and presents to be able to help send us to Disney. (Please take the time to click the link and read their story).
Disney had been an incredibly healing experience for the Frasers after their family suffered a significant loss, and she wanted our family to experience that same "Disney magic." Here's what she wrote in her note to me:
"My boys told me after I had to explain our loss that they "wanted to go to Disney to be happy." So we went. And we laughed so hard we cried. And we felt true joy again. And it was absolutely beautiful. It's something about Disney. It brings out the joy that sometimes we hide away. I want this for you and your girls so very much it hurts."
My one hesitation in their generous gift was that I didn't want it to hurt the fundraising for the Run for Hope. So we (the Joneses and the Frasers) made the decision not to tell anyone about the trip and to continue working to raise money for Love Fosters Hope (the organization that sponsors the Run for Hope).
Privately, the Fraser Family and their coworkers held a Disney Reveal for the girls. They showered them (and us) with plane tickets, Magic Bands, Disney Gift Cards, spending money and so much more. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Here are a few pictures from that day.
|The girls with Jimmy and Jackson and Jessica (See the Frozen pillowcases?)|
|A few of the people who made our trip possible!|
|The girls in their Minnie shirts from Aunt Cathy. |
At this point they only knew they were going to get
a surprise. When asked what they thought the
surprise was, Shannay said, "a rice cake?"
More to the StoryFast forward 2 months, and I got an email from my good friend, Courtney Templeton, who had this great idea to raise A LOT of money for the Run for Hope so we could win the trip to Disney. Keep in mind, very few people knew we already had a trip in the works, and the WHOLE REASON very few people knew was because we didn't want to hurt the fundraising for the Run for Hope. So I couldn't tell her we were already going to Disney!
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would raise almost $4000 in ONE DAY from her brilliant idea, but we did! We were so thrilled that so many foster children would be going to camp from that incredible day of fundraising (and we hadn't mentioned Disney World one time in the day of fundraising!)
Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine we'd end up with TWO trips to Disney, but that is exactly what happened. Not only were we going to Disney because of the generosity of the Frasers, we were also going at the generosity of so many who gave to the fundraising for the Run for Hope.
In a crazy twist of events, at the 11th hour, another fundraising family passed us in the fundraising competition, but their last donation came in past the 9:00 p.m. fundraising deadline. We were declared the winners and given the prize.
Paying it ForwardThe thing is, that other family was also a foster family, and what were we going to do with TWO trips to Disney? So we did the only thing we could do; we paid it forward, and gave them the trip.
All that to say, the Twinderellas are going to meet their Cinderella. And so is another special family.
It is, after all, a fairy tale ending. :)