My name is Em (left), I am 23 years old and I’ve been so grateful to attend the Give Gala for the last two years. Once I heard about the Give Gala and what it was all about, I was blown away by the idea of not raising money but raising gifts and the givers getting to see the impact they are making. They call this the worst fundraiser ever because each year they have raised $0 but have given so many gifts to patients and their families.
A little bit about my story. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at age 3 (yup you heard that right I joined the senior citizen club as a toddler!). Most of my life was spent trying and failing different treatments but my health was fairly stable up until I turned 18 when things started to snowball I was later diagnosed with a laundry list of conditions some of the major ones being Gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach), severe allergies, Joint Hypermobility Disorder and Dysautonomia, which means all the things I can’t consciously control don’t work right, like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, breathing and other not so fun things. So basically I’m in a chronic state of dizzy, hangry, ouchy and itchy.
The last two years have been especially rough I failed all the treatments that were available for my Arthritis and spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. My doctor’s all worked together to come up with a treatment they felt would be safe for me. Now after fighting the insurance company for 4 months to get the approval. I got my first treatment done 2 weeks ago and am finally seeing the light at the end of what was a very dark tunnel! And I am filled with so much hope for the future!
Unfortunately sick doesn’t take vacation days and my body decided to get the party started early.The night before the Give Gala, I spent the night in the emergency room with another anaphylactic allergic reaction. I put the Epi in Epic. But I had a nice, long conversation with my body and told it to behave for the Gala. Y’all we made it!
The Give Gala helps patients and families like mine see the good in what can be a very rough situation. Seeing so many people come together that truly care is mind blowing and when soaking it all in, it is emotional. With being sick, it does not just affect the patient but the whole family, physically, emotionally, financially and in many other ways. These gifts given to the patients and their families make such a huge impact and help relieve some stress whether it be a gift card for food that will secure a meal and is one less thing they have to worry about. Or a toy for a younger patient, that could help distract and comfort a child while getting treatment or going through a scary procedure. These things you may think are little are making huge impacts.
Days later I’m still feeling all the feels after the Gala! And to hear that every patient request was filled and beyond just blows me away! So many lives are being impacted because of other’s generosity and because of Jess and Joey creating a place to do this and celebrate patients like me and so many others. It also gives a place for people to get connected and create friendships that might have not been connected otherwise.
When you think about the basic concept of the Give Gala it’s a brilliant idea because it fills specific needs for each family and is special to each patient! The night itself has such an extraordinary atmosphere you can’t help but just breathe in positivity. It gave me a night of just carefree fun and I was able to celebrate with some of my family. Looking around the room you could just see the pure joy on everyone’s faces both the families and the givers. For that I am forever grateful!
Thank you to everyone that came to our Give Gala 2018! To see more about that night watch our video below!
Thank you to Chair 8 Media for donating and making this awesome video!