The Sussy Project

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This sussy nomination came from Danielle Alexis.  Danielle started Project 3×5 to raise awareness for a disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS/RSD).  The best description for this disease is through Danielle’s own words, “CRPS/RSD is widely recognized to be the most painful condition in the world, as evidenced on the McGill Pain Scale when shown to be above the pain caused by cancer, the amputation of a digit, and even childbirth. Fox News has even declared it to be 1 of the 5 craziest diseases in the world! In short, the nerves are stuck on replay from the point of the accident and so I am in almost constant, searing pain as if I have been set on fire.”

Danielle has interacted with & influenced many people through her blog at www.project3x5.tumblr.com. We got introduced through Twitter to Danielle and her amazing project. We see a lot of similarities between our blogs and our projects, so we sent her a Sussy tshirt and asked her to nominate someone who we could help make smile. She responded by telling us about Mary Claire Clark –a 16 year old girl from North Carolina suffering from CRPS/RSD.

“I know so many deserving people through the blog, but I’ve narrowed it down to the most INCREDIBLE young lady who has just left a 6-week intense Physical Therapy Program at Boston Children’s Hospital to start her senior year of high school in North Carolina.

Her name is Mary Claire, and like me, she also suffers from CRPS/RSD. Unlike myself however, she suffers from this condition in conjunction with a genetic heart condition called Brugada which (before she got a pacemaker/defibrillator) could have caused sudden cardiac death. Add to all of this, a diagnosis of Melanoma for her father in 2011 – terrifying for the family based on the fact that her mother is a 5 year breast cancer survivor. Thankfully, he has just been given a clean bill of health.

It’s a lot of stress for someone so young, and Mary Claire handles it with an incredible amount of grace. Although she originally got in touch to say that I had inspired her, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she inspires me a whole lot more! My God, the girl is incredible! I have no idea what I could do for her, due to the fact that she has the most amount of inner strength I’ve ever seen in someone, no matter their age.”

So we sent her this….

And she sent us this…

“I got the flowers and bear today! I was having a really rough day pain wise and was ready for the day to be over. It was so nice to walk in and see the bear and flowers!! It really made my day and gave me a second wind! I put them in my room and I smile every time I see them. Thanks for the joy!!”

 

We are so glad to have made your day & given you a second wind, Marie Claire.  Thank you & Danielle for helping to bring awareness to this rare disease.

—-Who do you know that deserves a smile? Nominate him/her today by emailing us at info@thesussyproject.com—-

 

 

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A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.  ~Tenneva Jordan

There is something that has to be said about a mother’s love. Having become a mother for the first time 4 years ago, I can honestly say it has been a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions every day since. Something changes inside of you the instant you first hold your child. That little bean of life can lock eyes with your soul, and without a word you just know…things are different.

Gone are the days of caring first and foremost for your own wellbeing. And if someone were to ask you if you would physically jump in front of a moving train to save your child’s life, you don’t even hesitate with the answer. There’s no question. Of course you would. Over and over and over again…you will do anything you can to protect that child.

What’s truly beautiful is when that child grows up, and sometimes even becomes a parent too. And it’s typically at that moment that one realizes just how amazing their mother truly is; to have lived day in and day out constantly looking out for the wellbeing of others. Because after all, a mother’s love is never ending.

We received the following nomination from Maria Norman. Maria nominated her mother, Lisa Herrera, for a Sussy. Here is what Maria had to say about her mother…

I’d like to nominate my mom, Lisa Herrera, for a Sussy.  She is the most amazing person I know.  She has 2 part time jobs, has custody and takes great care of my 10 year old nephew, watches my 16 month old son whenever she can, and loves her family everyday in the most beautiful way.  She is selfless, caring, giving, funny, loving, and the most amazing mother and grandmother.  She often has multiple grandkids all on the same day and instead of hanging out at home and doing nothing, she is taking them to the zoo, packing picnic lunches, baking cookies for the school play, or making clothes and toys for them.

Elijah -Lisa's grandson

I am one of three girls and I feel like my mom still takes care of us like we were 10, 7, and 5.  She constantly invites us over for dinner, and will send leftovers home for my husband so that I don’t have to cook when I get home.  She never puts herself first.  I’m sure if you asked, my mother would tell you that “if my family is happy, then I am happy.”

I could go on and on about this wonderful lady that I am honored to call “Mom”, but I think you get the idea.

Oh boy, do we ever. Lisa sounds pretty phenomenal in our opinion! Maria suggested that Lisa might like a gift card to Hobby Lobby with the hopes that she would be able to spend a little bit of money on herself rather than her family. So we took that suggestion and ran with it!

We heard back from Lisa a few weeks ago regarding the Sussy. Here is what she had to say about the experience.

It was really great to have been nominated for the Sussy. I would have felt honored just hearing the things my daughter said. I love shopping but really don’t go much, and usually get something for everyone else. The gift card was a bonus because I spent that on myself and with a little extra got some things to be able to continue doing my crafts and stuff for my grandbabies who I love very much. Thank you Sussy for the opportunity to be a part of your blog!

Oh Lisa, there you go again…being just as awesome as we hear you are!

And lastly, just a little extra note of thanks from Maria…

Thank you so much to you and your team for making my mom’s day.  She deserves all the world’s treasures for everything that she does for her family so any little thing that I can do for her to make her day is worth it.  Your Sussy project is very well organized and your team made the process a breeze.  Thank you Sussy team!

No, Maria. Thank YOU. It’s people like you, and your mother, which make every bit of this project totally worth it. Thank you for the nomination!

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Please nominate someone you think deserves to be surprised by kindness. Email us at info@thesussyproject.com.

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One of the things I love most about TSP is that I get to know some incredible people. The time spent interacting with those that nominate someone for a Sussy is invaluable. Their emotions just jump right off the page of their emails. Most of the time, I develop a closeness with the person that can’t really be described. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I laugh. With this nomination, I have done both.

Meet Hank. Hank is our recipient and was nominated anonymously. Though I haven’t interacted directly with Hank, I feel like I know a lot about Hank. Here is what we know:

  • Hank is 69 years old. He has a spirit that belies that number.
  • He is a caretaker. He takes care of his partner as his full time job.
  • He is an exceptionally good man. A patient man.
  • Hank has faced quite a bit of adversity in his life. Things that just don’t leave you and go away. And yet he puts that aside to be selfless. To care for the one he loves.
  • And he’s not just selfless as a caretaker. He cares deeply about social issues like homelessness and hunger. He is a feminist. He is a Christian.
  • As a caretaker, he administers medicine, sometimes intravenously. He has to call paramedics. He spends countless hours in hospitals. He doesn’t sleep much. Because his partner is sick. So sick that the next surgery could kill her. Very sick indeed.

I’d love to share more about Hank and specifically some of the amazing things the nominator said about him. But to do that might risk revealing our sources, and I want to protect the anonymity of this nomination. Because that’s what TSP is all about.

We, of course, recognized Hank. I sent him an email with an Amazon gift card. Hank likes mystery novels. He also is quite the inventor and seems to always have his hands in something. Hopefully he can spent some time spent on himself. Time to shop for him. Time for peace.

After he received his gift and checked us out online, he smiled. And as the nominator said “and that’s exactly why the sussy project is so important.  There are people like Hank all over the darned place, who do incredible things, in incredibly difficult circumstances, with very little help — and they are never recognized. “

I mentioned earlier that I cried and I laughed during this Sussy experience. And I feel I should explain. Because Hank’s story isn’t funny. The illness that plagues his loved one’s life isn’t funny. But some of the stories I heard during communication with the nominator were bitterly hilarious. And yet I also cried. Because once again, this project gives me perspective on what’s important in life.

Smiles. Love. Laughter. Kindness. What else really matters?

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Please help us make other people like Hank smile. Nominate someone by emailing us at info@thesussyproject.com.

 

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It hardly seems possible that The Sussy Project is already a year old. I remember sitting in Au Bon Pain with my partner, Pete, and proposing this idea to him. It was rough at first with a lot of holes and scratchy edges. But the more we thought through it, the more we loved it. And with some fine tuning, The Sussy Project was born.

In 12 months, we have surprised 31 people with kindness. And the people we have encountered, both nominators and recipients, have enhanced both of our lives tremendously.

I think about the parents we have met who have lost their children or who have stood by them as they suffer unthinkable pain. I remember those that have lost loved ones – brothers, mothers, siblings, pets. I have read nominations and laughed. More often, I read nominations and cry.

The Sussy Project has given me such perspective on life. No matter what I am dealing with, no matter how big or difficult or frustrating or painful it seems. Someone out there is dealing with something worse. Someone else has more strength. More faith. More determination.

But what we do have here at The Sussy Project, is love.

If you’re new to TSP, I encourage you to read through some of our past blogs. You won’t be able to get through Mia’s Story without tears, or Avery’s. But I don’t ask this of you because I want you sitting in your cubicle crying like a baby. I ask it of you because we want this thing to grow. And to do that, we need you to think like we do. When you see a friend who has had a bad day, nominate him/her. When a co-worker has inspired you by their strength or passion or attitude, nominate him/her. When your family member needs a pick-me-up. When your neighbor could use a smile. When a stranger faces pain. NOMINATE. We want to honor a lot more than 31 people over the next 12 months. We have an entire squad dedicated to helping deliver the sussies.

And finally, a very big thank you. To Pete for helping me make this project a reality. For the Sussy Squad for helping us grow exponentially. For everyone who has nominated someone for a sussy. For our loyal fans who follow us on Twitter, like our page on Facebook and share our stories with their friends. Big things are coming for TSP. We can’t wait to continue this journey with you.

 

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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, directed me to a story on caringbridge.org.  The post was written on May 13 by a man, Nick Keller, honoring his wife, Elizabeth, for Mother’s Day.

The Keller’s son, Joey, has been battling medulloblastoma for the past year and a half.  Medulloblastoma is a highly malignant primary brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum or posterior fossa.  The things Nick said about Elizabeth brought tears to my eyes.  Here is a small portion of their story, outlining Elizabeth’s strength and the struggles they have gone through with Joey’s disease:

Here’s the thing, she doesn’t get a break. Think of the most demanding jobs in healthcare or “caregiver” jobs…they get to go home at the end of their shift. No matter how demanding, after 8 or 10 hours, they clock out, and go about their lives. Certainly it’s a calling, but there are professional boundaries. Elizabeth has slept with Joey since this started. I know in many ways apples and oranges, but Elizabeth is at his side every minute, of every day, of every month. When the radiation caused the skin over his spine to crack and bleed and he’d cry all through the night, she was there. When he passed a kidney stone and screamed so loud EVERYBODY in the huge lobby of Riley turned, looked, and ran to help (I was there, I saw it), she was there. When his brain shunt pushed through his scalp and exposed the deep ventricles of his brain to the outside world, rushed him to the ER on a Sunday morning…she was there. When the “routine” (so I was at work) MRI showed he had relapsed and his chances for survival dropped, in an hour, from 30-50% down to 5%, she was there. When he had thrown up from the chemo every hour for basically 2 days straight, she was there. When he had appointments starting at 7 in the morning until 7 at night, and I had work commitments I simply couldn’t get out of…she was there. When he relapsed a second time, and he could read the looks of despair on our faces and Dad had no words (shock)…she was there, with love and encouraging words of how we’ll get through this together…somehow, we will. As my wife, when I wanted to wrestle God like Jacob one night at 3am, or argue with Him like Moses late one night after she’d been up all night the night before…she was there, telling me of God’s love, and why I could trust Him; she was there. When Joey got C-Diff, and had water diarrhea every half hour for a week and half, no break, Joey writhing in pain, sometimes punching his stomach it hurt so bad. We’d clean him up, put him back to bed, then minutes later the pain would wake him up, and we’d run to the bathroom. Sure I helped when I could. But when I was at work, or too tired to hold Joey up on the toilet…she was there, doing the heavy lifting. You know, it’s funny. Our culture seems to worship beauty, and wealth, and “I don’t care what they’re really like, they seem so cool in the movies, or on TV.” Symbolism over substance kind of thing. Or, “They’re so HOT,” outward appearance obsessed, etc. I have seen this woman when no one is looking. Seen her after 3 days with no sleep. Seen her when the doctor has said, “You’re son isn’t going to live.” Seen her when her son looks into her eyes and says, “I would rather die and be with Jesus, than go through this…I want to die.” My wife is a ROCK. She is as beautiful on the inside as I think she is out. She is patient, kind, and always prefers others over herself. The only time I’ve seen her confront somebody or use firm boundaries, is when someone is threatening Joey. I am a blessed man.

Elizabeth and Joey

Find the rest of Nick Keller’s journal entries at www.caringbridge.org/visit/joeykeller.

My friend was so touched by Nick Keller’s tribute to his wife that he said he wanted to do something special for her.  He wanted to purchase a gift card for her from Salon 01 (www.salon01.com) so that maybe sometime she could get away, even just for a couple hours, and maybe take her mind off the struggles she faces daily.  Being a member of the Sussy Squad, I suggested to him that he nominate her for a sussy.

I sent Nick an email, explaining the Sussy Project, and explaining how it was that Elizabeth came to be nominated.  Nick replied:

I just, finally, had some time to jump on your blog…wow, that is REALLY cool! What a creative and generous effort. Love it!…. I know how cheesy this sounds, but she is really unbelievable. And as I told my parents after writing that one Caring Bridge blog about her, I am in the cat-bird’s seat, in terms of seeing her in action. She never talks about herself and b/c of our situation and Joey needing to be in isolation so much, nobody ever sees all that she does. All those times I spoke about where she serves him tirelessly, I am the one who sees it. Who better to tell the world than me. She is amazing. Thank you for wanting to recognize her publicly. That is very cool.

The gift card was sent in the mail, and the other day I received a response.  Nick wrote me another email on behalf of Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was both surprised and blessed by the gift card. I explained the background and rationale for the gift and organization/blog you guys have started, and she was so impressed. Said, “what a great idea!” You may have heard, we had a really tough week, spent a night in Riley ER, and got less than the news we’d hoped for on Joey’s most recent MRI. This gift is a shot in the arm, encouragement to get through another week, and keep fighting for Joey.

Thank you so much!

There are many lessons to be learned from Nick and Elizabeth Keller, including strength, faith and perseverance. Even as I sit here writing this post, I am overwhelmed with admiration and pure emotion for the Keller’s, whom I have never met, but who have touched me beyond belief with their pure desire to persevere.  They are an inspiration to anyone going through struggles, big or small, and I am glad I am able to share this story of their’s.

The Keller Family

Yesterday, Nick Keller wrote an update.  Here is a small portion.

Once again, for those of you new to our Caring Bridge page, after 2 relapses, Joey has a 5% chance of survival…but we serve a big God that has made many promises to us in His word….we are standing on those promises.

Unfortunately, our arsenal against certain kinds of cancers isn’t as strong as it should or could be, and Joey is certainly in that category dealing with relapsed medulloblastoma. It breaks our hearts. We are fighting, and very much feel like we’re in a battle. In war, there are no breaks, there is always the threat of death, and the battle monopolizes ALL of your time, energy, and emotional resources.

 

He went on to thank many people for the texts, notes, help, support and prayers they have received.  Nick also recognized the Sussy Project for what we have done for his wife, and thanked the anonymous friend who nominated her.

First, what a GREAT idea, The Sussy Project. In day where it feels like everybody has an agenda, wants something from you, or is trying to sell you something, how refreshing is this? An organization that exists to “call people out” doing something admirable or kind, or special leadership skills, service, or just doing the little things, to serve people and make the world a better place. I had never heard of The Sussy Project before and really love the concept. I said all of that about war, and battle imagery, etc. to say, that this was really a shot in the arm for Elizabeth. I know (hope :p ) it meant so much to her to know that her husband sees first hand how hard she works, literally around the clock, to get Joey healthy again. All of our focus and energy is spent on this. But to be recognized in the public forum like this, and receive a gift like that, really meant the world to her. She has no idea when she can use it, maybe if Joey stabilizes or better yet, goes into remission, she’ll have a chance to get more than just a quick hair cut, her nails done, or more, this place does all kinds of stuff, including taking care of the grooming needs of dudes. I will likely go with her and check it out. Again, when things let up a bit. Anyway, what a great gesture, and a shot in the arm to my wife. THANK YOU. Whoever you are, you have no idea what this meant to my wife, new energy and zeal to carry into the next battle, that is our week, this week.

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Please think of someone you know who needs that “shot in the arm.” We want to honor them. Email us at info@thesussyproject.com

 

 

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The summer concert season is just around the corner, and it’s always a favorite time of year.  However, what would life be like if we couldn’t enjoy live music whenever we wanted?  When we received the following nomination from Stephanie, we of course wanted to help Patrick get to a live concert.

I have been following the Sussy Project since the beginning and this is a WONDERFUL thing you all are doing. I just received an email from a dear friend who works as a social worker at  local nursing homes in the Bloomington-Normal, IL area. Her co-worker and herself are trying to raise enough money to help out one of their residents who is an avid lover of live music. He was in a terrible car accident in his early 20’s that left him a paraplegic. He cared for himself for years but 8 years ago had to move into a nursing home for full time care. He has limited resources and funds, but is dreaming of seeing a live show. I would love to see a gas card donated to Leslie, my friend, and her co-worker Amy to help get Patrick to a live show and rock out :) .

Here is the link to the Facebook site that they just recently started: https://www.facebook.com/HelpPatrickRockOut

We reached out to Patrick via email, and sent a gas card his way.  We received the sweetest and most inspiring response from Patrick:

I appreciate Stefanie’s SUSSY nomination very much. What would my odd’s be. To qualify TO DRIVE MY SIERRA [3 MPH top speed in the or a MARATHON. I’M NOT AFRAIDE OF LIFE. I have Para-sailed over LAKE GENEVA, WI, BUNJI JUMPED DROVE MY SCOOTER ON Greatlakes Union Grove dragstrip. WE only LIVE ONCE. And I believe my second disabled meaning. Is to show the WORLD. That having a DISABILITY DOESN’T MEAN QUIT. IT’S MADE ME TRY HARDER. RESEARCH KEEPS PROVING THE HUMAN BRAIN IS CAPPABLE OF DOING ASTOUNDING FEATS. THE POWER OF THOUGHT. PATIENCE IS THE KEY. THERE IS SO-MUCH OF THE HUMAN BRAIN THAT IS UNTOUCH TERRITORY.

THANKS for the SUSSY NOMINATION. AND. I hope you’ll consider me for a WARM RACE.

SINCERELY; Pat A Rack or Patrick N Fallos

Patrick

When we read his response, we all had tears in our eyes. What an amazing man. What an inspiration. We could all take a lesson from Patrick’s attitude towards adversity.

You can help too. Go to his Facebook page and donate to the cause.

We are excited to follow Patrick as he goes on his live music adventure.  Be sure to check back for an update!

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Who do you know that deserves to be surprised by kindness? Please email us at info@thesussyproject.com

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On Friday, Adam must have heard our cries for Mother’s Day nominations. Because he sent in the following about his mama, Marsha:

Although there are many stories that I could tell to support my nomination, there is a stretch of time in our lives that would prove to be some of the hardest times that any mother should ever go through, but my mom Marsha Becker did.

In August 2001, I was riding my brother’s motorcycle through our home town of Upland Indiana, when a driver not seeing me on the road turned left into my lane.  With little time to react, I hit the car head on. Luckily the helmet I was wearing saved my life, however I lay on the street with two broken arms and a dislocated knee.  Over the next 6 weeks, through countless surgeries and doctor visits, my mother was always by my side.  To this day, I have no clue how much time she spent in hospital waiting rooms,  sitting by my bed or dealing with the paperwork that followed, all the time these visits were well over an hour away from her house.   Even though I was over 20 years old, I found myself in a wheel chair living at my parents house for a semester of college.   My mom had to take care of me as though I was still an infant.  I couldn’t feed myself, due to having two full arm casts.  I couldn’t walk due to a full leg cast.  I couldn’t even push myself in the wheelchair I was in.  Yet through all of it she was there, every step (pun intended) of the way.

It was exactly one year after, to the day when my mother’s next great challenge would happen.  I was currently living in Texas, on the anniversary of my accident.  I remember her telling me “Now don’t go do anything crazy today.”  Unfortunately, it was not me that fateful day that was doing something crazy.  I received a call from my mom at 4am the next morning telling me that my brother Christopher, her son had passed away from a fall while rock climbing in Austria.   The next several weeks were the hardest times that our family has ever been through, and will likely ever go through.  But my mom was strong, caring, and loving as always.

My mom has been there for the hard times and she has been there during the good.  My wedding, the birth of her grandson Christopher (we call him Topher, named after his uncle) and the birth of her granddaughter (Grace).  My mom doesn’t like going over a week without seeing her grandchildren, and finds excuses to make the drive down to come see them nearly every week.

So this mother’s day, on behalf of myself and my brother  I would love to have my mother receive the sussy that she so deserves.  I love you mom.

If Marsha isn’t someone you don’t want to run and hug, then I fear you must not have a heart. Because she sounds like not just an incredible mom, but also an incredible woman. Nicole Witt, member of the Sussy Squad, reached out to Marsha and told her about the nomination via email. We also sent a bouquet of flowers for Marsha to receive. According to Adam, she was just thrilled.

Marsha and Adam - Mother's Day

Then today, Marsha emailed Nicole back to describe her Sussy experience.

I will admit Adam sometimes (& often) surprises me; like nominating me for The Sussy Project.

What is a mother to do when she sees her son lying in the middle of the road after being hit head-on by a car?  Help, obviously.  Although his accident was ‘the worst’ he had had growing up, it wasn’t the only one.  He didn’t make it through high school unscathed.  And through them all he had a wonderful attitude.  I must admit I believe it was easier for me take care of him than it was for him to endure the pain.  He should have dropped out of classes for one semester but did not, he persevered through the pain and missed classes.  No mother likes to see their son suffer.  And of course, no mother should endure the pain of losing a son, just as no brother should.  Life does go on.   Adam and I have a deep love and respect for each other.  We were both art majors and therefore both have ‘critical’ minds.  We like to critique.

I have high praise for my son, Adam, just as I have high praise for my husband, Dick, who perseveres right along with us.  And Dick also puts up with Adam’s and my adventures.  He needs an award too.

Thank you for The Sussy Project.  Great idea.

What a great family. We are honored to introduce them to you. And we hope everyone out there made their moms feel special yesterday.

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We want to keep handing out smiles.

Nominate someone for a Sussy today! info@thesussyproject.com

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When you think of a mom you think of strength and love – devotion to family.  A mother is the glue that holds a family together.  They never are too hurt or ask for comforting, they comfort everyone else.  When we received the nomination of Ann from her niece, Andrea, we knew Ann was an amazing mom and wife who deserved to be honored for Mother’s Day.

I would like to nominate my Aunt, Ann Adinamis-Impicciche.  On April 23, Ann lost her husband, Alan (52), to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Ann is the mother to two wonderful children, Michael (14) and Maria (16).

Alan battled leukemia for the first time three years ago, but after many long months went into remission.  Alan’s leukemia came back last fall and again Alan went through chemotherapy.  Ann, worked tirelessly as a working mom (a Child Psychiatrist), pseudo-single parent, and nurse to her husband for four long months.  At the end of March, Alan went into the hospital where he remained until he died in April.  Ann served as Alan’s tireless advocate during that time, but still managed to make sure her children were loved and cared for.

With Mother’s Day nearing, Ann is trying so hard to deal with the pain of losing her husband while also trying to comfort her children who have lost their father.

We sent Ann an arrangement of roses.  She wrote the following to express her appreciation for the flowers as well as her love of Andrea, her niece.

I just received a beautiful arrangement of colorful roses from the Sussy Project.  Thank you- this was a wonderful surprise and definitely brightened my day.  I am very touched by Andrea’s nomination.  She has been incredibly strong and supportive of our entire family through Alan’s illness and after his passing.  We are so proud of her commitment to train and run a half ironman to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of her uncle Alan.  Your gift of flowers brought tears to my eyes as my husband Alan always sent me flowers on Mother’s Day.  My children and I miss him terribly but we are comforted by the kindness and support of so many people.  Thank you again for the lovely flowers and for brightening my day.

We are thrilled to brighten Ann’s day and continue a tradition Alan started by honoring his devoted wife on Mother’s Day.

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Nominate someone who deserves to be surprised by kindness by emailing us: info@thesussyproject.com

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When we received a Sussy nomination from 16-year old Kylee Crabtree, our hearts sunk. She was nominating her good friend, Quinn Hoover’s, parents. Quinn was killed in a car accident on March 18, 2012.

Here is what Kylee wrote us:

My name is Kylee Crabtree and I’m a sixteen year old who lives in a small town located in Maryland. I am emailing you because I know two people, a married couple, who are the perfect candidates to receive one of your ‘projects’. Tom and Sonja Hoover have gone through absolute Hell and back in the past three weeks. On March 18, 2012, their oldest son, Quinn, passed away in an auto accident. Quinn was a dear friend of mine and honestly, he was perfect. He did well in school, he was amazing on the soccer field, he was just a small step away from becoming an Eagle Scout, and he was always, always, always kind to those around him. At only seventeen, he had traveled the world and helped so many people. Quinn had already been accepted into the college of his choice and was ready to hit the ground running.

On his way home on that horrible early-morning, Quinn fell asleep behind the wheel. He fought hard to stay alive, but at 3:49 PM, he was declared brain dead. Quinn became a hero that week, because he donated his organs to save the lives of others. Three women got another chance at life, thanks to Quinn’s donation. Tom and Sonja are more proud of their son for all of his accomplishments than I feel I can explain. He has touched so many people, but his parents are the cause of it all. They raised a truly wonderful young man.

Quinn Hoover - 17 years old

No parent deserves to lose their child, and no little brother deserves to lose his best friend. After Quinn’s death, the Hoover family made it a point to check on everyone else. I have spent a good deal of time at their home, and Sonja always asks how others are doing. She is so selfless and strong, as is Tom, that I just want to show them how phenomenal they are, how fantastic they are, and how inspirational they are. In all honesty, they’re my role models. When I am older, I hope to be as giving and nurturing as they are. I hope to have the strength and compassion that they posses.

In addition to everything, they have started The Quinn Hoover Legacy Scholarship Foundation. The community has held fundraisers to aide the fund, and so many people have been kind enough to donate. Shirts designed in Quinn’s honor have been sold as well as raffles created. I know that the Hoover’s are elated at the turn out, but I know that it has to be hard for them, constantly staying in the moment.

Their new ‘motto’, I guess I could say,  is “Take a stand, leave a legacy”, which of course is for Quinn, but even so… they have taken a stand, and they have left a legacy. Not only through their son, but through themselves. Now I feel as though it is my turn to take a stand and leave a legacy. Please, help me show them that they are not alone in this and that so many people are here for them. Help me show them that although Quinn is gone, his legacy still lives on. I am aware that you probably have an excessive amount of emails pouring in every day, but I promise you… there is nobody on this Earth who deserves this project right now, more than Tom and Sonja. Please help me give them a small glimmer of inspiration to them.

Kylee is quite the 16 year old young woman. And it’s impossible not to feel her pain through her words. She clearly loved Quinn tremendously. She gave us some great ideas for the Sussy and we settled on a turtle figurine that reflected their Native American heritage. We sent it to Tom and Sonja with a message of support and love and mourning.

Throughout the entire process, I kept in touch with Kylee. She shared pictures of Quinn with me. And told me more about him. I feel like I knew him too. And she kept in touch with the Hoovers. They showed her the turtle and were absolutely thrilled.

She wrote this: “I went to The Hoover’s last night for a visit, and they had showed me the turtle! It was so beautiful and just absolutely perfect. Both Tom and Sonja were very excited about the meaning behind it, and the gift in general. Thank you so much for making this happen.”

She also felt strongly that Quinn would love it too. “Not only because it’s a turtle, but because, well, did you see the little color ‘stone’ on the very top of the turtle’s back? The burgundy and teal? Those were Quinn’s Native American colors that he wore when he danced. Every single thing about that little figurine screams Quinn.”

Since being introduced to Quinn and his story, I have been following his Remembering Quinn Facebook page. I have read every article I can on the crash. He was such a smart, ambitious kid with so much life. It’s so heartbreaking to know that his family and friends lost him at such a young age. I hope that when you read this, you share his story as much as possible. Let us honor his memory and support his family.

And then after sharing this story? Nominate someone you know for a Sussy. Pay it forward. Make someone smile. We’ll help. :)

Email us at: info@thesussyproject.com

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My heart is so heavy writing this. I am sure most of you heard but yesterday, sweet little 5-month old Avery passed away. You can read her father’s post here.

I fell in love with Avery when Janice Walters nominated her for The Sussy Project. I read every post and in just the past three weeks, I and over 500,000 other people have followed Avery and her bucket list. How her parents could put aside their sadness and work tirelessly to create such a full and joyous life for this little girl is beyond comprehension. They are truly incredible. I can’t understand why this disease exists. Or why Avery had to get it. Or why her lung collapsed yesterday.

I doubt she ever got to play with the Barbie we sent her nor watch “The Polar Express” nor get her mani/pedi. But she and her wonderful family have inspired so many people.

As I sit here with tears streaming down my face thinking about that tiny baby and that raging disease and her amazing parents, I know there is a big lesson in this story.

We all must live. We all must love. We should take every single opportunity to experience what this world has to offer.

So hug those kids of yours. Tell someone you love them. Be thoughtful and spontaneous. Go after the unthinkable. Life is too fragile not to. Avery – a 5 month old – taught us that.

Rest in peace precious girl.

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