Toya's Secret: A Blessing Comes Full Circle

Toya's Secret: A Blessing Comes Full Circle
At Glamorama, I met the amazing Candace Jordan, fell in love with Rachel Roy and MaxMara fashion lines, munched on delicious chocolate desserts and took home a pair of special edition Chicago Bulls Studio headphones that I won at the after party. It was a socialite’s dream come true, and so much more than that.

By Toya Nicole

Over the weekend, hundreds of Glam Chicagoans attended the 22nd annual Macy’s Passport Glamorama event. Glamorama is a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and it was the perfect Chicago night, where runway fashion, high society, the star power of Sheryl Crow and complimentary Patron cocktails made for a beautiful evening.

Between performances at Glamorama, the audience met one of the beneficiaries of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and it recalled my own personal experience.

As an adult it’s not something I talk about often, very few people in my life know that as a newborn, I spent my first weeks on earth in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit fighting for my life.

My mother experienced a toxic pregnancy with me.

It was early on New Year’s Eve that my mother and I both lay in a Texas county hospital on the brink of death. The hospital staff approached my older siblings in the waiting room to inform them they would need to make a choice:

Save your mother or the baby? Both of us wouldn’t make it.

Thankfully the angels intervened and the race to save both of our lives was won. However, a rush delivery caused severe nerve damage and I struggled to breathe on my own. My mother was grateful to finally bring me home but my journey to a full recovery would not come easily.

I spent my early years in and out of physical therapy and at 11-years-old, I was admitted to the Texas Scottish Rite hospital for an intense surgery that would ensure me more mobility.

It was the generous contributions of donors that covered my hospital bills and the volunteers who offered their time playing games and reading stories to me that made those weeks in the hospital a bit easier for me and my family.

Today I stand as a survivor but the memories of my early struggles never leave me.

Sometimes as I get dressed in the morning, I reach for my curling iron and apply my makeup, and I think back at the time when I was told that my injuries wouldn’t even allow me to brush my own hair. I smile, say a prayer of gratitude, think back on my journey and remind myself to never stop doing all I can to give back and pay it forward.

For the past three years, I’ve joined the youth from my church community to cook and serve brunch to more than 30 families at the Southside University of Chicago Ronald McDonald home. Each year I get the opportunity to meet the children, talk to the parents and watch as they work to maintain a sense of normalcy in difficult times.

Normalcy was a gift that the beneficiaries of Ronald McDonald House Charities received and it was a gift that I understood well.

For me, the fact that 100% of the proceeds from Glamorama went to support Ronald McDonald House Charities made it extra special. While I live for a posh party and rubbing elbows with the who’s who of Chicago, supporting children’s charities is dearest to my heart.

So thank you Chicago. Thank you for pulling out your little black dresses, tailored suits and checkbooks to attend Glamorama and support such a worthy cause. It was more than a fashion show, you made a difference that night that will impact children for years to come. Let’s plan to make Glamorama 2014 another night to remember!

Toya Nicole is a savvy marketing and branding consultant whose personal mission is to inspire others to travel, embrace new experiences and live life to the fullest. Stay in touch with her as she blogs about travel, events and life lessons on her blog: Follow her on Twitter @MsTravelChic.


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