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"If you continually give, you will continually have" - Unknown
The General Motors Our Town, Our Heroes program recognizes philanthropists in the Midwest making a difference. Every two weeks three nominees are introduced. After being nominated by my friend, Diana, who submitted a beautiful write-up about my cancer journey and how I’ve worked hard to turn tragedy into triumph, the voting began.
I was in the company of two other incredibly inspirational women: Mary Pocuis who is involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a fundraising partner for Special Olympics Illinois, and Beth Drucker a leader at Go Green Wilmette who creates and maintains teaching gardens at local schools.
My friends, family and Project Ladybug supporters came out in full force to vote for me. Sometime later my mom called to tell me that I’d won! I was happily surprised, but wondered how she knew. “It’s on the website! It’s on the website!” she exclaimed. It made me smile to hear how thrilled she was.
As the winner, I was granted the use of a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid for a week. It was a gorgeous car. We drove it down to Springfield, IL for the weekend and then around Chicago when we got home.
It was fully loaded! Three TVs, cup warmers and coolers, XM radio, side blind zone alert - a much needed warning when vehicles were in our blind spot - and rear parking assist, which beeped when we got too close to things; a necessity with a large SUV. All the features were intuitive and helpful; they really made our driving experience exceptional!
A true feeling of LUXURY!
The kids loved it. Atia quickly started calling it the “fancy car”, and matter-of-factly told us that we should buy it. What can I say? The girl’s got good taste. Once you drive it, you’ll easily come to the same conclusion.
The Escalade Hybrid was delivered with a full tank of gas which got us all the way down to Springfield and around town for the weekend. We only had to fill it up once the entire time we had it. The gas mileage was comparable to our current smaller SUV - very impressive, indeed.
GM surprised me by filling the trunk with much needed toys for the pediatric cancer patients at The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, and by giving me a $100 gift card. I was overcome with emotion when I saw all of it. I pictured the many smiles the toys would elicit.
Atia and I worked together to add Project Ladybug labels to all of the toys. That was a true exercise in selfless giving for her. As with any 3 year old, she saw toys and immediately wanted them. I explained to her that they were going to the kids that were sick in the hospital. I reminded her how excited she’d been to receive cool toys when she was there. Thankfully, she quickly remembered and happily began listing off several toys she’d received while battling cancer.
Though she still admired the toys and held onto them lovingly until it was time to pack them up, she helped without complaint and came up with a rather smart solution to satisfy her desires – she decided to add whatever toys she most wanted onto her birthday and Christmas wish lists.
Do you know we dropped off the toys several weeks ago and she still reminds me that the Play-Doh Picnic Mini Bucket is on the list.
I was so honored and grateful for all GM did. They are a wonderful company, doing so much to support those who help others.
GM went above and beyond to treat me like a true hero... but it didn't stop there. I was shocked when a few weeks later I received an email inviting me to a Cubs game where I’d be recognized on the field for my newfound Hero status!
More on that in next week's blog > "Honored at Wrigley Field: Home of Chicago Cubs"