This Thoughtful Thursday, we are thankful for Alex and his strength to fight the evil villain, Leukemia, each and every day.
Last week, 50 families from across the country traveled to San Diego to be a part of the Everybody Plays photo shoot with photographer, author and mom Kelle Hampton. Something occurred that was more powerful than just a marketing campaign for Step2 and Infantino; there were proud moments, milestones, smiles, giggles and friendships built during this magical occasion. This photo shoot was and still is an ongoing movement to show that every single child, no matter their age or ability plays, and has fun doing it.
Grace’s mom described her experience at Everybody Plays as comfortable and special. “No one cared what type of abilities your child had, they were just happy your child was there.” She was so proud to see her daughter play with other children and pose for the camera. Other moms, including Apollo’s mom, felt at ease as Kelle took pictures of their children. “[Kelle] was comfortable and flexible with them all. If a child was having a hard time, she simply gave them a break. Once they were happy she was ready to shoot again. There was no pressure and everyone was having fun.”
Although these wonderful children were the focal point of this photo, none of these beautiful pictures would have been possible without Kelle. The way she photographed and handled each child with such passion was heartwarming. She posted about her experience last week on her blog. “If you were part of the shoot this year, I want to tell you how special it was meeting you and your children–all of you,” she wrote. “We had a tight schedule and lots of babies to attend to, but I remember your hugs and your stories and your children. I saw the pride in your eyes, I felt how much you love them. I watched you soothe them and kiss them and work hard to make sure your babies were comfortable and aware of your presence.”
Children and parents came out of their comfort zones for this event and it could not have made us more ecstatic to see many children overcome their fears and create such beautiful images for everyone to enjoy.
The picture above truly embodies the love and acceptance of this annual event. The little girl in the pink top holding the other children together is Coco, the winner of the Everybody Plays Essay contest. Coco has Down syndrome and Leukemia, which thankfully is in remission. This strong little warrior just finished her last round of chemotherapy earlier this year and, as much as she has been through, her smile proves how spectacular she really is. She is a testament of strength and courage – we can all learn something from this inspirational little girl.
The families that attended this photo shoot go through struggles every day, but they also make the most of each day with their special and extraordinary children. The Everybody Plays campaign recognizes that each child has different abilities, but we also salute the parents that have given their time and dedication to their kids. These parents are pushing to make the world a better place for their children. With their help, Step2 and Infantino can exemplify the message of love and acceptance. After all, everybody plays.
Most kids write to Santa Claus asking for toys; but not eight-year-old Ryan Suffern. He asked if Santa could stop the kids at school from bullying his fraternal twin sister, Amber. He also asked if Amber’s favorite band Big Time Rush could come to Amber’s birthday party.
Ryan’s mom Karen was so touched by her son’s letter that she shared it on her Facebook page. The letter went viral and the family was interviewed on Good Morning America. Little did they know that Big Time Rush was waiting to greet Amber as an early birthday present.
This Thoughtful Thursday we commend both Ryan and Amber for taking a stand against bullying.
We will never forget that day twelve years ago. The tragedy of 9/11 affected each of us in different ways, including the children that were born post 9/11. For 11-year-old Max Siepert, he wanted to honor the brave heroes, so he donated.
Two days after the twelfth anniversary, Max walked into the Greenfield Police Department in Milwaukee and anonymously gave his $10.03 savings to the clerk. He quickly walked out. Greenfield police wanted to thank this kind boy, so they reached out the community through social media to ask people to identify him. They were able to learn who he was through Facebook.
In an interview with Max, he said, “I was happy that I did what I did because one day it’s going to make a difference. Maybe not a really big difference but at least it’s something.” He went on to say, “If every person would do that, we would have such a great world. It would be awesome.”
This Thoughtful Thursday, we thank Max for his kind heart and his desire to honor the brave men, women, and children of 9/11. He hopes that his story will inspire others. We are positive that it will!
When Cieran Kelso was 13 months old, he contracted meningitis, which resulted in having to have both of his legs amputated. But that didn’t stop him from swimming. To help Cieran swim, his father made Cieran prosthetic swim flippers. When he first watched the movie “Dolphin’s Tale,” he identified with Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap and was fitted with a prosthetic tail. It was his dream to one day swim with Winter.
On August 16, Cieran’s dream came true. He smiled as Winter performed tricks and frolicked around the large pool. In a recent interview, Cieran said he could have swam with her “for a million hours” if allowed, and “it was greater than great.” Besides her trainers and the actors from the film, Cieran is only the second person to have swum with her.
A quote from Dolphin’s Tale accurately describes how amazing they both are. “In this changing world, it’s harder than ever to find something extraordinary, but every once in a while a symbol of hope breaks through.” This Thoughtful Thursday is dedicated to both Cieran and Winter.
Kanye Ortiz, a nine-year-old who loves watching and playing football, did an unthinkable act of kindness for a stranger in early August. Kanye was given the opportunity to get a football signed by his favorite player of the Houston Texans, J.J Watt. Although he was excited to get the signature, Kanye saw a boy in a wheel chair that was having trouble getting to the field to get his ball signed. This boy was 15-year-old, Zuriel Sanchez, who suffers from spina bifida.
Kanye decided to do the right thing by giving his newly signed football to Zuriel. The 15-year-old boy was shocked by Kanye’s generosity. “If you do something nice for someone, it will help you later on, and it will help you later on in life,” said Kanye. This Thoughful Thursday, we applaud Kanye being a giving individual with a big heart.