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Tyranny of the Urgent

4 Oct

I’m beating myself up right now because I allowed something to happen that I could have easily prevented. I purchased the domain name for SammyYammy.com the summer of 2003 when he was only a few months old, and over the years, I had renewed the domain registration before it expired.

This time when the domain renewal notices came (and there were many of them filling my inbox), I was complacent and busy with other urgent activities in my life, and I just kept putting it off. Yesterday, I finally took a moment and made myself sit down and take care of the renewal. Today, I am filled with regret because SammyYammy.com is now owned by someone other than me, and I only have myself to blame.

I haven’t lost any of the information I had stored at the site because I had transferred it all to this WordPress page (SammyYammy.wordpress.com), but the domain is gone unless the current owner agrees to sell it back to me or the current owner doesn’t renew the domain within the next 12 months.

Even though I didn’t update it as often as I had hoped over the years, Sammy’s website was and is one of the most important things to me. Instead of forcing myself to step outside of the whirlwind of urgent tasks and obligations, I continued to allow a truly important thing to be shoved farther down the list. As I look down the list, the sad reality is that there are way too many other important things–needs, people, tasks–that have slipped to the bottom. That’s gonna change starting now!

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Brackets For Good

7 Mar

imageFamilies for HoPE was recently selected to participate in a unique online fundraising competition by an Indianapolis organization known as Brackets For Good. Think of the March Madness college basketball bracket of 64 teams, but instead of teams, there are 64 nonprofit organizations competing to score points (raise dollars) in a single-elimination tournament.

Last week as we embarked on our very-first Brackets For Good tournament, we weren’t sure quite what to expect, but we had hope for a respectable showing. With the support and generosity of many, we scored more points than our Round 1 opponent (American Diabetes Association of Indiana). Half of the 64 organizations were eliminated after the first round, and Families for HoPE is one of 32 organizations remaining in the tournament!

We are extremely excited to advance to Round 2; however, we have our work cut out for us. Our opponent is Joseph Maley Foundation, and in addition to being a seasoned veteran in the Brackets For Good tournament, Joseph Maley Foundation was the 2015 runner-up for the entire tournament in Indianapolis! No doubt, they are seeking to return to the final round in 2016 and finish their task of capturing the championship (and the $10,000 cash prize).

We need your help if we want to make it through to the Sweet 16! You may be familiar with the term “Cinderella Team”. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “Cinderella” team as:

  • someone or something that is ignored but that deserves attention or credit.
  • someone or something (such as a sports team) that is not expected to do well but that succeeds or wins in a very exciting way.

Families for HoPE goes into this round as the Cinderella team! Everything about HPE fits the definition of a Cinderella team.

  • The odds of a fetus with HPE surviving to birth is only 3%.
  • Of that 3%, very few survive to six months of age.
  • Did you know that HPE is the most common brain malformation in a developing fetus occurring between days 17 and 21 of fetal development? It generally causes early miscarriage. If you or someone you know experienced a miscarriage in the earliest stage of pregnancy, it very well could have been due to HPE.
  • Medical statistics are what they are, and physicians are unable to offer parents much hope following a diagnosis of HPE.
  • Parents are warned of their child’s future inability to walk, talk, eat, learn, grow, breathe.

We know that HPE is a common but not widely-known condition . . . “Something that is ignored but that deserves attention or credit.”

Our kiddos (and even teens and adults) with HPE are truly the all-star players on our Cinderella team who “are not expected to do well but they succeed or win in a very exciting way.” Every breath, every smile, every day!

Our goal is to raise funds for our 2016 Family Conference on Holoprosencephaly, but we know that this Brackets For Good tournament is a very good platform for raising awareness of HPE as Families for HoPE and the children we serve are able to share our Cinderella story far and wide. Won’t you please make a donation now and share this message with your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others so that they can help our fairy-tale story come true?

How do I donate?

Click here to donate! (100% of funds will go to Families for HoPE)

To view the entire bracket, click here

Strength . . .

1 May
I’ve been thinking about this photo all day. It was a Polaroid taken on May 1, 2003 by Sammy’s neonatal ICU nurse, Cathy Firestone. On that date, Sammy was three weeks old, and two weeks into battling an overwhelming infection and a perforation of his intestines. I spent hours each day at his bedside praying that he would survive, and while he was heavily sedated and ventilated, I spent those two weeks waiting for him to open his eyes to show us that the worst was over.
Early that morning before we arrived, Cathy caught Sammy opening his eyes, so she grabbed a camera and had this photo waiting for me near Sammy’s bed. It will always be one of my treasures. While it’s easy to look at the photo and see how weak he looked, I see his strength because I know just how much he overcame.

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A Perfect “10”

20 Mar

On January 10, 2003, we received the diagnosis of Holoprosencephaly (HPE) for our unborn baby. The specialist described HPE as 10 times worse than Down Syndrome.

On April 10, 2003, Samuel Aaron Harley was born weighing 6 lbs., 10 oz.

If he were with us today, Sammy would be celebrating his 10th birthday on April 10.

If he had been born without HPE, Sammy would be living a typical 10 year-old boy’s life, and we would be patiently waiting to see what he might grow up to become and how the adult Sammy might make an impact on the future world.

Instead, Sammy was born with HPE, and before he even left the womb, he was already making an impact on the world. In the 5 years he was here with us, he melted hearts by his sweet innocence, and he taught others through his determination and perseverance.

In honor of Sammy’s 10th birthday, it seems only fitting to celebrate the number 10.

What you see below is the formation of a ripple that started with Sammy, and I would ask you to help his ripple grow on this 10th birthday. Sammy was one of the children who helped inspire the formation of Families for HoPE, Inc., and I will be participating in the annual Walking for Dreams fundraising walk on Sunday, May 19 at the Downtown Indianapolis Canal. 100% of the funds raised by my team directly benefits Families for HoPE.

The first ring around Sammy’s photo contains 10 circles and within those 10 circles are room for 10 names. I am seeking 10 friends who will donate $10 to join my team and walk with me in honor of Sammy. Then, I would like those 10 friends to get 10 of their friends to donate $10, and ask those friends to consider walking with us in honor of Sammy, too. (Below is a picture of what my 10 friends will receive to share with their 10 friends.) My goal is to completely fill Sammy’s ripple with names to create my “perfect 10“.

Now, imagine if those 10 friends asked 10 of their friends to donate $10 and they walked with us in honor of Sammy, too. Do you see the ripple forming?

The thing about Sammy is that he couldn’t participate in an event like this because HPE made him unable to walk. Also, Sammy couldn’t ask you to donate $10 and walk on his team because HPE made him unable to talk. He couldn’t walk or talk, yet he made quite an impact on the world.

Will you be a part of the ripple that Sammy started? Will you be one of my “perfect 10 friends?

1-Perfect 10 Ripples

If you would like to start your own ‘perfect 10″ ripple for Sammy, please email me at LeslieHarley527@gmail.com, and I will send you the file so that you can add your 10 friends and their 10 friends to the ripple.

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The R-Word

6 Mar

“That’s so retarded.”
Do you say it?

“Don’t be a retard.”
Do you say that?

My only child, Sammy, was born with profound mental retardation. Not just your everyday mental retardation, but “profound” mental retardation. Unable to speak, unable to do anything on his own and totally dependent upon the love and care of others. He was my cherished, beloved son, the light of my life.

Sammy came into the world to teach, so if you want to use the “R-word” correctly, I’m happy to share Sammy’s story and teach you about him and other kids born like him. The experience will be “profound”, I promise.

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Blue

24 Nov

After Sammy’s death, we pretty much threw all of his things in plastic storage containers and stacked them in the closets in his bedroom. We just weren’t ready to go through his things, and I certainly didn’t want to give anything away for a while.

I’ve written blog entries about some of the things we have donated or shared with other children with HPE, so I have let go of some things when I knew there was a need by another child.

Five years later, Steve and I are currently in the process of cleaning out those closets and transitioning Sammy’s room into an office where I can do my work for Families for HoPE and hopefully begin working on Sammy’s scrapbook again.

As we empty and clean his room, I can’t help but think about the weekend in 2003 when we painted and prepared the room for Sammy. He was about 6 months old, and we decided that Sammy needed more space and the amenities of the master bedroom would be better for the nurses who worked with him at night while we slept.

With the help of our family, we spent an entire weekend painting and getting the room ready. By Sunday evening, we were able to officially show him his new room.

As I carried him into his room and laid him down in his crib, I was shocked by what I saw. The dark blue walls reflected off of Sammy’s pale white skin and made him look blue! I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. My baby with a tracheostomy who had a knack for holding his breath was in a blue room that made him look blue! What was I thinking?

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Go fly a kite…

7 Apr

Sammy’s birthday is only a few days away, and thinking about a great memory we had from 2005, I decided that we would fly a kite at the cemetery.  The wind wasn’t quite strong enough, but we did manage to get some lift and had a nice time.  Maybe we will go back on Tuesday and try again.