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Archive for August, 2011

HOC is one of the few great charities where we can all have a direct and tangible effect on the lives of others. In the most simplistic yet profound way we can give the gift of hope in a journey that sometimes breaks us, but with the outcome, that afterwords, we are stronger in the broken places. I feel so lucky to be a part of this”

Eric Christian Olsen

Actor Eric Christian Olsen donated his time to reach out to pediatric cancer patients in local Los Angeles hospitals.

Eric, known for his role on NCIS:LA as Marty Deeks and his starring role in the movie “Fired Up”, is also fondly remembered as Lloyd in “Dumb and Dumberer, When Harry Met Lloyd,” as well as many other well known movies.

When Eric learned about HOC he enthusiastically volunteered his time to visit pediatric cancer patients in the Los Angeles area. Along with bringing dvd’s and autographed photo’s for the patients to enjoy, Eric brought his quick smile, his unrestricted time, and his relaxed and easy way of connecting with the patients!

We are thrilled and honored to welcome Eric to our HOC family! To see what Eric is up to and where you can see him next on the big or small screen, check out his IMDB page online.

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Our founder, Tara Lawrence, is a Volunteer of the Year finalist for the CLASSY Awards with Stay Classy.  The 3rd Annual CLASSY Awards is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, recognizing the most outstanding philanthropic achievements by charities, businesses and individuals nationwide.  This award could bring us $10,000 that we so greatly need to continue helping improve the quality of life for children battling cancer.  Would you mind taking a minute to go to this site and vote for Tara Lawrence as Volunteer of the Year?  You only need to vote once.

Here’s the nomination that helped Tara earn a spot in the final round of voting:

Hats, hats and more hats! Over 1,000,000 hats have been donated, organized and shipped to children fighting cancer worldwide because a ten year old girl looked into the eyes of children fighting cancer and did something positive to help. Starting with one simple letter written by Tara requesting a donation, a national nonprofit organization was born, motivating thousands of volunteers worldwide to bring smiles and hope to the faces of children battling cancer.

Losing her grandfather to cancer, Tara volunteered at the American Cancer Society in his honor. Meeting children who hated losing their hair to cancer treatments, Tara began collecting new hats bringing smiles, hope and happiness into their lives. Hats Off for Cancer became the nonprofit that rallied volunteers from all walks of life. Presidents, celebrities, schools, churches, scouts, the FBI and everyday folks felt the comfort of donating a simple hat. Hat drives, walk-a-thons, hat parties, silly hat days and personal collections were all organized and donated by people worldwide. A hat, while at times may seem small, and to some even insignificant, actually represents a special message to these heroic kids. A hat signed by a treasured celebrity, a hat created by a caring woman who personally knit her message of love into every stitch, or a hat decorated by that excited Scout, sent their message, “We care and we are thinking about you!”

Considered the first hat program in the country, Tara is honored and humbled by the many programs that have popped up emulating HOC. Since HOC is a grassroots program, no one takes a salary. All donations go directly into the program for the shipment and everyday costs of running a program of this magnitude. The biggest challenge is the continuance of donations to maintain HOC, but this has not stopped Tara. Visiting hospitals handing out hats, Tara has sat in many hospital rooms with children holding their hands while they received their chemotherapy, sat with parents who had stories that filled her heart with love and hope, and cried with parents who were told there was no hope at all. Each child has their own special story, and a special spot in her heart.

Tara says, “After each visit I walk away with a promise to myself and the children that I will never stop doing what I do until every battle has been won for each child fighting cancer.”

Read more about the CLASSY Awards and find Tara’s nomination here.

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“Why are you involved with Hats Off For Cancer?”

Di Barker

I am extremely proud to serve on the board for Hats Off For Cancer.  My empathy with those who lose their hair through surgery or chemotherapy is very personal for me.  In 1993, at the age of 33 and a mother of two beautiful children aged 9 months and 7 yrs, I was diagnosed with a Pleomorphic Adenoma.  As a child I had suffered from severe headaches and as my Mother had suffered from Migraines, I was treated accordingly.  It was not until I lost my hearing, in what seemed like a flash on an ordinary day, that the doctor’s investigated.

An MRI showcased a tumor the size of an orange encompassing my parotid gland on the right hand side of my head.  It was dangerously close to my facial nerve and was pressing on the parasympathetic nerve at the base of my skull, which the cause of my loss of hearing. To say I was petrified was an understatement for sure!  The doctors told me they had never seen a pleomorphic adenoma as big as mine was.  They surmised it had been growing for at least 25 years!  No wonder those headaches I endured all those years were so painful!

Though it is classified as a benign tumor, pleomorphic adenomas have the capacity to grow to large proportions and may undergo malignant transformation, to form carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma, a risk that increases with time. Although my tumor was “benign” the tumor was aneuploid, which means it can recur after resection and it can invade normal adjacent tissue. Distant metastases have been reported after long (+10 years) time intervals.

Surgery was performed immediately to remove the tumor and I woke up to find my head had been shaved on the right side.  I was grateful to have long hair at the time and was able to conceal the shaved area with a big comb over!  As my facial nerve had been stretched in order to get the tumor out, I experienced facial paralysis for 5 months. Thankfully this was short lived and I continue to have my MRI checkups and am extremely grateful to say they have all been clear.

As a HOFC Board member, I am honored to partner with the “World’s Greatest Bank”, Umpqua Bank in Portland, Oregon. Umpqua Bank has committed to an ongoing relationship with Hats Off For Cancer using their locations at various retirement facilities in and around Oregon.  The wonderful ladies in the knitting clubs at the retirement centers knit and crochet hats all year long.  Umpqua Bank generously donates all the wool and baggies to package the hats in. Each year, on HOFC’s Mad Hatter Day, Umpqua Bank throws a big party at one of the retirement centers for the knitting club ladies and they do a hand over of all the hats the ladies have made.  It is an event I look forward to each and every year. I am always humbled at the warmth and kindness in every stitch in each hat. The messages of hope and love for the children that the ladies include with the hats they have made, are lovingly appreciated by all the children who receive them.

We have received over 1,000 hats in the past 3 years along with donations of just over $1,200.00 from Umpqua Bank and their knitting club ladies!!

More about Di Barker:

Di Barker is the owner and Principal Designer of Abundanceforlife Living & Interiors and has been practicing Interior Design in Portland, OR since 2001.  Di has created functional, elegant and amplified spaces for an amazing array of residential and corporate clients. She received an “Honorable Mention” by the Interior Design Society for the National Interior Designer of the Year Awards in 2011.

Before moving to the Northwest in 2000, Di enjoyed the fast pace of Toronto, Canada for two and half years.  Born and raised in South Africa, Di enjoyed successful careers as a successful Managing Real Estate Broker, as well as in the glamorous world of fashion and design for 18 years.

On behalf of children battling cancer, we thank you, Di, for serving as a Board member and helping Hats Off For Cancer reach more than 1,000,000 children as they fight this disease.  We’re so grateful for your involvement!


					

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We have some incredible Board of Directors members here at Hats Off For Cancer.  We wanted to introduce them on this blog and let you know a little more about why they support Hats Off For Cancer.  Stay tuned!

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