Friday, January 16, 2015

Stories of Giving from Fred and Heather Lyn

I would like to tell you a story about Jasmine “Jazzy” Lyn and her involvement with an organization called the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was a summer weekend in 2010 full of family celebrations when Jazzy’s great Aunt (a seasoned family practice doctor) noticed that her lips were pale. It was suggested that she have a blood test just to check of anemia. Heather and Fred, Jazzy’s parents, took her to the pediatrician the following Monday. Blood tests were ordered and taken immediately. That evening the results came in: a hemoglobin count of 3. Jazzy was immediately rushed to the ER at San Antonio Hospital and then transferred to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital after further tests confirmed that her blood work was seriously awry. Several subsequent days and many tests later, the diagnosis was confirmed: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). In July of 2010, Jasmine “Jazzy” was only 3 ½ when she was diagnosed with ALL. The first 28 days of Jazzy’s diagnosis were the hardest. She lived in the hospital for the first two weeks, had to have a PICC line placed, then had port placement surgery. She had to learn to swallow pills, was poked constantly, and had several lumbar punctures. Jazzy couldn’t attend her preschool and there were many activities that her situation prohibited. Yet, through it all, she was a happy, outgoing, sweet kid who never cried or screamed and who always wanted to talk to the nurses about Disney princesses. In all, Jazzy underwent two years and two months of extensive chemotherapy, constant lumbar punctures, and blood tests. She took her last chemo pill in September 2012. Now 8, Jazzy is in 2nd grade and enjoys ballet, taiko drumming, piano, girl scouts, and swimming. For her 7th birthday party she asked her friends to bring a donation for LLS in lieu of toys and other gifts. The 15 girls who attended donated $400. Jazzy is a super sweet kid who loves reading and spending time with her Mom, Dad, and little brother Parker. Jazzy’s not sure what she wants to be when she grows up. Sometimes she says she wants to be a doctor, a veterinarian, a swimmer, a dancer, or a mermaid. Other times, she just says that she wants to be a kid forever. Our family attributes her strength partly to the fact that she was born three months early and weighed only 1 pound, 14 ounces at birth. She was born a fighter and continues to be, which is simply amazing. We also think that as a result of her experiences so early in life, she is confident, comfortable speaking her mind with adults, and is a problem solver. In 2014, Jazzy was named an Honored Hero for the LLS’ Light the Night fundraising event. LLS is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services. LLS helps blood cancer patients live better and have longer lives and funds treatments that are saving the lives of patients. LLS is making cures happen, with their mantra being: “Not Someday, But Today!” As an honored hero, Jazzy had many opportunities to speak in support of LLS and to be an ambassador for the organization. As a family, we once again dedicated ourselves to re-establishing “Team Jazzy” and starting an aggressive fundraising campaign. In June, after three months of letter writing, social media posting, and e-mailing every person and business that we could think of, our team was only 20 members large and we had raised only $1,000, which was contributed by Some Crust Bakery. We were feeling like we had placed our goal of fundraising $20,000 too high. In August, we were blessed with an opportunity to have a Eureka! Night in honor of Jazzy and LLS, where we raised almost $400. After this good publicity, we started to get a few extra donations from community members. We had another fundraising night at Casa de Salsa and when school started in the fall, Jazzy’s Brownie Troop joined “Team Jazzy”. The AVID students at El Roble Intermediate School (where Jazzy’s mom is a teacher) also sold LLS bracelets for $1 at lunch and raised $150. By the day of the event, our team included over 100 members with half being 10 years old or younger. A week after the walk, Condit Elementary School surprised us by asking if the school could do an ice bucket challenge in Jazzy’s honor. Each classroom competed to raise the most “bucks for buckets” for a week. At the end of the week the classroom that raised the most would do the ice bucket challenge in the middle of 100 mile club on a Friday. From this event, Jazzy’s school raised almost $1,100. Through this year’s fundraising efforts we have seen the Claremont and surrounding communities lift up our daughter and rejoice in the accomplishment of her two year off chemo anniversary by fundraising almost $18,000. Raising money for LLS is not only a way that we came together and give thanks for the life-saving technology and medical advances that continue to keep our daughter healthy, but it is also the number one way of fighting cancer. Because of organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, hundreds of thousands of people diagnosed with blood cancer like Jazzy are today living normal, productive lives. LLS is on the threshold of amazing breakthroughs and the money fundraised accelerates miraculous new treatments and healing therapies once thought impossible for these patients. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Fred and Heather Lyn

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