Success, Failure & Fundraising

In life you have both success and failure: neither are permanent. Being part of the human race, I’ve had my fair share of both.

I am two weeks out from Ironman Arizona. As I’ve written over and over this path has been different … it has been one where training is second to life and that has made it a rocky road when it comes to my confidence. So far the journey has been successful, and getting to the starting line is a much more interesting story than what happens in the thirteen to fourteen to fifteen hours it might take to get to the finish.

With me this entire time was Brianna, Dreamer’s classmate who passed away at eight years old waiting for a heart transplant.

brianna eight

You can read about her here, here and here. Her illness and passing marked me tremendously: as a mom watching a fellow mom live in my worst nightmare, and watching my kids face their mortality. When I struggle out there I call out to her, and when I am having fun I can almost hear her giggling. Her presence is very real. Yet I was supposed to have focused this Ironman on fundraising for Brianna and have failed in that … quite miserably.

I hate asking for money even if I know it’s for a wonderful cause like this one … for the Arts In Medicine Program at Shands University Of Florida Hospital in Gainsville. This is where Brianna spent her final months, and it was in her art, music and writing therapies where glimpses of the child she once was would come out during a long hospital stay.

One piece of artwork Brianna created in art therapy.

One piece of artwork Brianna created in art therapy.

I’ve thought of sending out emails, or being more aggressive in asking, but the truth is, I’ve received so many emails or messages asking for money for xyz cause that I feel miserable. I can’t possibly donate to them all, and even the small donations add up. I feel like I am failing or ignoring a friend because I know what it’s like to be on the other side, asking for money and not getting any! I dread my local NPR station fundraising drives; though I know they are important, I end up changing the channel. Therefore I chose not to email, but didn’t quite have time to do all the things I originally thought I could do to fundraise.

I’ve been in touch with Brianna’s mom, Maria, and just this week I wrote her an email apologizing for failing in fundraising and guaranteeing her that just because I sucked at raising money it doesn’t mean that Brianna was less real, or even worse, being forgotten. She continues to be a presence in my family’s life.

brianna orange beach

Her reply mirrored the strength and honesty I have seen in her over the past few months as her family adjusts to a new future without the physical presence of her little girl.  She told me she was so proud of me, so honored that I would take on Ironman Arizona in memory of Brianna, and there was nothing to forgive. That my keeping Brianna’s memory alive was gift enough. Some people are afraid of mentioning Bri Bri to her mom, and she says that is the most difficult thing of all.

Not speaking of her is like not breathing.

I hope I am giving breath. I speak of Brianna often, and am with her even more.

brianna hospital

Maria then donated $50 to Brianna’s Hopeful Heart, the campaign set up on Fundly. These resources are used in the Arts In Medicine Program so that other children who are enduring a long hospital stay can have a reprieve, a sacred space where they are allowed to stop thinking about treatments and needles, and have a glimpse of childhood.

Please help fund this program … in memory of Brianna, in honor of Maria, Brian and her little brother Luke. No donation is too small … seriously.

She was eight years old when she passed away, maybe you would consider donating $8 for each year she was with us? Or $5 for the five months since she left? Or $1,000 because it has three zeros? Whatever the meaning, whatever the amount, it is all appreciated.

I am not asking you to turn this “failure” in my fundraising attempt into a “success.” Just to donate what you can, if you can.

Thank you.

8 thoughts on “Success, Failure & Fundraising

  1. Dearest Cristina,
    Your post is so special to us, and your presence in our lives even more so. With the deepest of gratitudes, we urge you on your path to Ironman, and remain so humbled that you feel Brianna by you! Thank you isn’t enough, but it comes with lots of love.
    -The Medinas

  2. Dear Cristina: as i read about your journey, I could not help but to be proud of you.
    you should be proud of yourself as well. I also understand where you are coming from since I 2 hold a special part in my heart for Brianna…and I always will….be proud of yourself….

  3. power to moms. my friend Maryann lost her 11 year old to cancer 2 years ago. her struggle is inspiring.

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