Its Monday morning and Sharlie has returned home from the hospital following her double lung and heart surgery! Our joy continues to grow as we learn of her amazing progress! As promised in our prior post here, we wanted to share with you photos from the Air Supply Benefit that was created on her behalf just last November. It was a day where thd community came together to donate and to offer support and the miracles and efforts that proceeded it were beyond what we could have ever imagined. We are going to attempt to list just some of those.
In September 2011, my husband Troy and I learned of the extensive surgery that Sharlie (a dear friend of ours with Cystic Fibrosis) would be needing and the large amount of money that would be required for such a necessity to take place and sustain her family during her time of recovery. Similar to other members of the community, we knew that we had to do something to help! What else could we do but put together an event...even if we could raise just $5,000 we figured it could make a difference.
However, the thought of a fundraiser to be honest seemed a bit overwhelming. We were in the midst of wedding season and juggling the day to day details of our other events and having never planned a benefit before weren't quite sure where to begin. We knew the event and design side of things but with so many different aspects to fundraising, we knew we couldn't possibly go at it alone. We knew we needed a venue and someone to set up a non-profit fund, someone to handle the money and someone to set up a website. We needed amazing vendors and a big draw to bring people in and PR..and lots of it...and all of this needed to be done within a short 2 month window until our projected date for the event! We knew that in order to do it outside, where we could gather large numbers of donors, it would need to take place by the first part of November and even then with weather we were taking a risk. BUT..we knew this was Sharlie that we were dealing with and where Sharlie is, miracles tend to take place. Just how large of a miracle though...we really had no idea!
During our first meeting we met together with Matt Brown (our well-needed CPA who would be handling all the money and donations), Erin Reagan from Classic Party Rentals (an experienced fundraiser), Kiptyn Locke (from the Bachelor and our PR pro) and Jessica Erickson (Sharlie's best friend and an online marketing guru). We knew we had a lot to do but quickly began getting to work and started sharing our plans with friends and family. The response was huge! Our humble small group of 6 that gathered that first Sunday night in our home just continued to grow with each Sunday meeting, until our living room seemed to be bursting at the seems. By the time the event took place, 260 volunteers had stepped in to offer their time and talents both those who know and love Shar as well as complete strangers who were touched by her story .
We knew that picking the right concept was crucial for all of the other elements and that it would drive much of the planning. After giving a lot of thought to what we would name the event and wanting it to represent who Shar is and what she means to people, I had a late night flash of inspiration come to me. This was truly going to be an event where those who love Shar would have the opportunity to fill her lungs with love...and so the concept was created and Air Supply was born. We enlisted Cassie from Peanut Press Creative who spent hours with us, donating her time to create all the perfect paper elements made up of images of dirigibles and hot air balloons.
Punch cards were given to guests with their entry fee to use at some of the many booths. They were able to choose from among food, face painting, the photobooth, the bakery, the jump house etc. Being that family is so important to Sharlie, we wanted to make it a family affair where guests of all ages were able to attend. Unlike more traditional and formal gala type fundraisers, we truly wanted this to be a FUN raiser and pulled in different aspects from some of our other past weddings!
Twigg Botanicals created all of the beautiful flowers made up to look like balloons in flight.Our bakery from our past French wedding also made a re-appearance. This Bakery gave many volunteers the opportunity to offer up their cooking talents and provide many delicious sweets that guests could use their punch cards for.
We also created a custom Heartfelt Wishes wall made up of felt garlands made by one of our nearest and dearest, Julia Barker. Paper hearts were given in exchange for donations that guests could write notes to Sharlie on and hang upon the wall. These uplifting and encouraging love notes were later sent to Sharlie. 50 handmade one of a kind quilts made with love from Project Warm Souls, were donated as well on Shar's behalf and sold at the "Silver Lining" Booth. Every last one of them sold.
We wanted to involve the younger kids as well and give them an opportunity to serve. Inspired by the many lemonade stands that kids had previously set up to raise money for Shar in their communities, we included our own version of lemonade stands constructed by Dennis Mathis Construction. They were manned by volunteer children, many of whom wore literal hearts on their sleeves. :)
This may be one of our favorite photo booths that we created with felt clouds and the dirigible! Jill Thomas Photography showed up to shoot the many people who turned out to show their support and enjoy a photo opp. So love Jill and couldn't be more grateful for her time in capturing the details and great moments of the event!
a picture of some of our favorite bachlorette's, Valishia and Tenley who joined in on the fun
More of our Sharlie's angels and amazing team members!
a quick pose with me and my hubby- the one who always keeps me going.
The lemonade and delicious taco bar was graciously donated by Crown Point Catering, one of our all time favorites! We can't say enough good things about them but their food always speaks for itself! This food station was appropriately named "Cloudy with a chance of Tacos". A big thanks to Amir and everyone at Surf Brothers as well who also donated a food station which we dubbed "Cloudy with a chance of Teriyaki".
Light as air Popcorn and cotton candy cloud machines were donated by volunteers and pleased both guests young and old.
We realized after the event that we had an overwhelming turnout of more than 800 attendees that came from all walks of Shar and Ryan's life as well as those that heard of their story through News coverage or other Media.
Scout PR with Kiptyn and Tenley did an incredible job at assisting us to spread the word through news outlets such as radio, television and various magazines and newspapers. Jon Foreman, from Switchfoot also took time out of his busy touring schedule to shoot a video with Benny Ek of what we had always imagined as our theme song for the event, "Learning to Breathe". Take a look back HERE to view it. We couldn't be more grateful for all of their efforts!
T-shirts were designed by both Clint Erickson Design and Peanut Press Creative and were sold at a "sharlie's swag" booth we created .
Kiwi jump donated a bounce house and slide that kept the younger guests and teenagers busy "Catching Air".
Twigg Botanicals also donated the flowers for our "65 Roses" booth, a term coined by little ones who couldn't say Cystic Fibrosis.
Our auction was a HUGE success, headed up by Syndea Mendioroz, Karen Brown and Erin Kaminski from Classic Party Rentals. We had over $30,000 in auction items alone that ranged from vacations to a Kelly Slater signed surfboard, to signed skateboard decks and Pro Athlete Jerseys, diamond earrings and everything in between. We literally had about 15 long tables full of goods and services that all were bid on. It was amazing how many items continued to pour in with each passing day leading up to the event.
The event has now come and gone but for those of us that were involved it will stay with us and in our hearts the rest of our lives. Some of the team members surprised Jessica and I with flowers at the end of the event but truly, I can say that we received so much more from this experience than we gave. We were able to witness what a big difference willing hearts and hands can make when they come together. Our original goal of raising $30,000 wasn't ambitious enough. We surpassed our goal with an overwhelming amount of almost $100,00 donated after expenses.
We cannot thank our vendors and contributors enough for their generosity and the many volunteers who offered their time. A big hug to Jessica for all the many late nights and hours we spent together as well as the Sabin Children's Foundation who partnered with us to accept donations for Shar. To the many others...we wish we could list you all here! You each made such an important impact and we could not have done this without you! You have helped make miracles happen! Much love to all of you and much love to you Shar who we continue to think of and pray for daily. For any and all of those who were involved we would love to hear your stories or comments about anything that touched you that day or during the events leading up to the event. Please feel free to leave your thoughts. xoxo Heather
Vendors: Amorology Weddings, Benny Ek Video, Classic Party Rentals, Crown Point Catering, Dennis Mathis Construction, DIT for outdoor display televisons, Pacific CPA, Golden Spoon, Jill Thomas Photography, Kiwi Jump, Peanut Press Creative, Premier Image Screen Printing, Scout PR, Sir Speedy Printing, Surf Brothers,Twigg Botanicals