It has been a week since Sweet Brinley's Grand Stand, and I have not written about it. I don't have pictures yet, but would like to write about the experience and I will post pictures as soon as I have them.

Before I get into the report, I want to say that I am going to be brutally honest. Part of this journey with our Lemonade Stand includes disappointments. It wouldn't be the same without them, and our successes are so much sweeter because of them. So to leave that out would be like coloring a picture with only one color. And I can't pretend this year was not difficult.

I would like to start with our disappointments this year, that way we can end on a good note :)
Things were just harder. We worked harder, we made improvements, we tried new things and there was a lot more involved with our stand this year. All things that would get us to our goal.
Except we didn't make our goal. I was 99% certain we would do our $10,000 goal this year. We received a few sponsorships and we had 6 stands raising money to help us, both things we did not have last year. Those things together totaled over $5,000 of our goal. See how this would make me feel confident, since we were only $2800 short last year? Anyhow, after tallying things up we realized we are about $700 short of our goal, although all the funds are not showing yet, so that is just an estimate. I can't tell you how disappointed I was. We made a little less at the event, and had fewer online donations.

This event took everything out of me, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I am not sure how it happened, and I am still trying to figure it out. All I know is I have only felt this type of overall exhaustion one other time in my life - during Brinley's treatment. Our entire committee felt the same way, exhausted. I realized that we will not be able to continue without making some changes, because we couldn't do that to our family. After a full week, I am still not quite recovered. We talked about how we can do things differently as a committee and I am feeling very confident that with the necessary changes we will be able to continue this year after year.

There is something in the disappointment that I just can't seem to describe to people. Something that causes an ache in my heart when I think about it. I will do my best to describe it but I am not sure how successful this will be. Somewhere within me is a passion that is completely and utterly all consuming. It is a different kind of passion than what I feel for my family and loved ones, or for the Gospel. This kind of passion has never existed in my life before. It's a feeling of helplessness, like you are screaming and people aren't listening. Now before you start feeling defensive like I literally mean "nobody" is listening, please realize that there ARE people listening. Just not enough people to satisfy that "passion" that is inside of me. I think about Brinley and all she went through. Then I look at Skyler, who came to our Lemonade Stand, with so much stolen from him because of cancer, yet so blessed to still be alive. Then I look at Kaidan, who also came to our stand, in a wheelchair because of surgery she just had on both ankles to try and fix the constant pain she is in from after-affects of the chemo. I think about Jacob, who should be in 9th grade like Taylor, hanging out with his friends, but instead is in the hospital because he just had a bone marrow transplant. I think about Daniel, and Anika, and Tanner, and Nick who aren't with us any more. And then I can't breathe, and I don't understand why everyone I talk to doesn't care about this. I don't understand what more I need to do, what more I need to say, because to me it is so OBVIOUS how badly these kids need us, and it is so OBVIOUS what a difference we could make if everyone who heard about these kids would help somehow. But they DON'T! They don't and that "feeling" inside of me grows and grows, and then it's in my throat and my eyes burn and I feel angry and discouraged. It is so hard to have a drive like that for something and feel like you are swimming against the current, but you are swimming so hard because you want it so badly, but the current is the current, and people are people. They will stand in your way, and not listen, and not care, and make you want to throw your hands up in exhaustion and frustration because you are wasting your breath. Or are you?

As I was crying (literally) to my close friend a few days after the event she said this to me. "But Kristin, I am aware now. And my sister is aware. And my friends are aware. And my parents are aware." And I realize that there are people listening. There are people doing something. It may be 1 in 10 people I talk to, but GOD BLESS THOSE PEOPLE. Instead of focusing on the people who don't listen, I should focus on those who have been listening.

Which brings us to the successes of our event. We raised $9,300!!!! That is huge!! How can I sit there and focus on the $700 we didn't raise when we raised $9,300! Robert and Catherine Pedersen were our presenting sponsors, and opened up their home to us and listened to our message. And really heard what we had to say and immediately wanted to help us! Six people/families took on the task of holding their own stands and they were crAZY successful! A few of my dear friends were unable to hold their stands, but I know where their heart was, and I consider each of them as having held a stand anyway. I am so proud to have friends and family willing to do something like this. I will never be able to show them my heart, and how they fit into it, but every person who helped us with this event fits in there somehow. Those who donated, or showed up at the event, or donated money or supplies or items to sell, or helped out during the chaos of setting up (chaos is an understatement), or volunteered, or brought their kids or grandkids, or helped in any other way. They went into that place in my heart that is reserved only for those people who care about this. I have friends and family who are dear to me, and fit into special places, but this place is somewhere different. This is the place where Brinley's pain hides, and the sorrow I feel for those kids suffering or lost goes. It is a place that is reserved only for this. I don't know how else to describe it, but there is no other place in my heart like it. It is tucked away, protected from all other parts, and it is very special to me.

Another success: awareness. This year was miles better than last year as far as getting attention for our cause. We were able to be on Good Things Utah, our event made the 5pm and 10pm news, and we were in the West Jordan Journal and the Salt Lake Tribune, with a HUGE picture in the paper. Half of this battle is awareness, because awareness=funds=research=cures. Several of my cancer mom friends were in news stories, or newspaper articles and it made me so happy to see the media giving this some attention. We even spread it to other states with our Las Vegas and Maryland stands!!

After our event, I read the blog of our dear friend Skyler. His mom had written about our event, and if you know anything about Skyler, he has been to hell and back. He has been on death's door, and survived. He is truly a miracle and we love him. Every time I see him my heart breaks. It rejoices that he is still here, but breaks for what cancer has stolen from him. And as I read her blog, I knew that if we did not succeed in anything else, reading her blog and watching him go down that slide and take something back from that beast was all the success I needed. You can read about it HERE.

Last but not least, we learned something from this. We learned that we are not perfect, we make mistakes, we offend people accidentally, we hit walls, we fail, we succeed, we get frustrated, we cry, we fall down. Then we get back up, brush ourselves off, and keep swimming against the current. Because there are kids on the other side who need us to swim.

There are so many thank-you's to offer. Our amazing committee, who have been dedicated to this from the beginning. David who is right there with me all the time. I am so blessed to do this together with you. Alissa, Craig, Nancy, and Melanie, you make my heart happy and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you. Mom and Dad, Matt and Jen, Ali, the Creer Family, Lori and Rob and my awesome cousins, the Nawrocki family, Alissa and Craig, Nancy and posse, thank you for taking on a stand of your own this year. You amaze me. So many people who helped in so many ways. Thank you. This was a success. It really, really was.