Connor's Heroes is excited about this holiday season. We have a calendar full of fun, family events around town, in clinic and on the pediatric floor. We kicked off with an ice skating party with the cast of Disney On Ice! On Friday, more than 100 heroes and their families will fill a section at the Coliseum to see the performance of Disney On Ice.
When a doctor tells a parent that their child has cancer, parents head straight to the hospital. No time to go home and pack. That's where Connor's Heroes comes in. A parent told us that "The Heroes Backpack and Parent Tote I received, in the beginning, had many essentials in it." Thanks to you, we made our Heroes Bags and Backpacks even better. Parents receive a sturdy, travel-sized bag filled with toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, kleenex, and lotions. Thank you to everyone who donated items or purchased off our Amazon wish list. You can clearly see how you made a difference.
Our October Parents Day Out was very Richmond! The parents took a canal cruise through downtown on the perfect fall afternoon. Meanwhile, Connor's Heroes volunteers played Halloween games, ate a yummy lunch and even had the kids faces painted to top it off. At these events, our Hero parents are able to take a moment for themselves and bond with other parents going through similar journeys. Thank you to Venture Richmond for the cruise tickets and for KVCF who hosted the gathering at their office in Shockoe Bottom.
Jeff Brownstein has been a long-time member of the Connor’s Heroes Board of Directors. He became involved with the organization in 2010. He served in many roles; most recently as Chair of the Board. One thing that has never wavered is his passion for making sure Connor’s Heroes can help every child in his community who is battling cancer. He said, “When I see these kids face their chemo with grace and determination, I know that CHF had a small part in helping them and their families.” After retiring from many years in corporate sales and sales management, he decided to share his time with Connor’s Heroes. We are so lucky to have Jeff on our side!
Q: Why should others support Connor’s Heroes?
CHF helps families in two ways: I’ve seen the staff and volunteers with CHF connect with the families. They offer them so much support. At the lab, our researchers are working hard to discover cures. Navigating the myriad of issues facing a child with cancer is a mind-blowing experience. Any way that a parent can get help from CHF makes their journey less daunting and more hopeful.
Q: Why do you believe it is essential to give back to your community?
We live in a community, and by definition, we need to help each other whenever we can, in whatever manner we can. A nonprofit like Connor’s Heroes gives us the chance to give back to our community.
For a complete list of CHF Board of Directors, visit www.connorsheroes.org/our-story/our-board-members
Our October Heroes Art Session was pretty amazing! Connor's Heroes Board of Directors and numerous Hero families welcomed Elias Neujahr, CEO of Children's Hospital of Richmond. Our heroes presented their "Under the Sea" masterpiece to Elias. After learning that Elias loves the beach, each child painted a canvas with their favorite ocean animal! Elias will hang it in his office at the Children's Hospital of Richmond. The rest of the afternoon was full of pumpkin painting, slime creation, and watercolors - even Elias and our board joined in on the fun! Connor's Heroes feels lucky to have such a dedicated board and friend in Elias!
Our Heroes Art Session in September was a big one! Over a dozen heroes and their siblings joined Connor's Heroes at The Visual Arts Center for an afternoon of creative fun. They painted beach and ocean life on tiny canvases that will become a collective masterpiece. Celia and our heroes will present this collaboration to a very special Connor's Heroes supporter in a few weeks! Stay tuned for more on that presentation.
At only five months old, Skylar was the youngest patient in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. BMT is not a pediatric floor designed specifically for children and families. A BMT room is a typical hospital room until Connor's Heroes arrives! For Skylar's admission, our amazing volunteers decorated her room to make it more playful and more like home. We gave her parents a Connor's Heroes tote bag (with items like a thermometer and warm socks) and Skylar a backpack with all sorts of goodies to make her smile! Special thanks to Shelly Jones, aunt of our Hero Maya, and Kendall Burgess, sidekick to our Hero Mia. Skylar's room was their first time decorating a room on the BMT unit. Didn't they do a great job?
Members of the Leadership Development Program at Capital One volunteered in our office. Waiting for them were two rooms full of toys, crafts, toiletries, and games donated by YOU! Each Heroes Backpack is individually stuffed with love for a boy or girl and an age group (teenager, infant, toddler). The volunteers had the fun task of picking out the items that they felt would best help that child at that age. It's another example of the personalized care that you allow Connor's Heroes to give each family.
Two very special guests helped launch our newest initiative, the Circle of Heroes! Karen shared her daughter Aaliyah's story on how childhood cancer has turned their family's life upside down. She shared that Connor's Heroes was there to lend a helping hand. Elias Neujahr, CEO of the Children's Hospital of Richmond, spoke about the exciting things happening at CHoR that will continue to put families first. We are so grateful for all who joined the Circle of Heroes and became founding members of this generous, dedicated group. And a big shout out to Kaplan Voekler for hosting such an inspiring evening!
Interested in joining our Circle of Heroes? Contact Celia at email@example.com or visit our giving site.
This year was the final run of the Heroes Run. The Heroes Run is a motorcycle rally, bike show, family-friendly party and fundraiser. The main event is the raffle of a custom built motorcycle. This year's bike is a 1973 Harley Davidson shovelhead chopper built by Robbie Clarke. The founders of the Heroes Run (pictured left to right), Joe, Rudy and Justin donate the proceeds from the ride and rally to Connor's Heroes.
1) Why did you start the Heroes Run?
My good friend Justin and I were spending many nights in his garage building my first chopper. We've both been blessed with good lives and the ability to take care of ourselves and our family. We felt that we had a strong urge to give back to people who were less fortunate than us. After we discussed recipients of our charitable work, it was an easy decision to focus on children. I reached out to a few people and Connor's Heroes quickly came to the top of charities who we wanted to work with. Once I got on the phone with Lisa Goodwin, it was a no-brainer. She welcomed us with open arms. I believed in her cause and appreciated her attitude towards us; a couple of motorcycle dudes who didn't know what they were doing but wanted to give back. Five years later and we’re hoping to wrap up our adventure with Connor's Heroes with close to $50K of charitable donations. We'll need everyone coming out this year to help us get to that goal!
2) Thinking back over the past Heroes Run, what was your most memorable moment?
There are many memorable moments, but I think the biggest moment and best moment for me, was the 2nd Heroes Run when we gave away the first chopper. Justin worked his face off getting that bike ready. I'm so proud to call him a friend. I don't know many people who would put in the work that he did to get that bike done. It started off as a basket case of parts, engine completely disassembled, and we scrounged up missing parts. We had no clue what we signed up to do. We formed new relationships with vendors who had no idea who we were, but they gave us parts for free because they believed in our cause. It was all so inspiring. But what made it the most memorable Heroes Run was that moment when we announced the winner. I'll never forget the excitement of Mark from Charlottesville yelling loudly that he was the winner. Even better was the crowd's cheer shortly after as everyone was super excited for him winning. Through that chopper, we all combined as a group and I felt like we all collectively worked together to raise money for children who really needed every penny more than any of us could ever imagine. It was the ultimate in inspiration.
3) Name a hero in your life and why.
I have many people in my life that I have looked up to and do look up to. I can't just name one hero. But in regards to what we do with Heroes Run, every single child that is affected by cancer is my hero. I cannot imagine what they're going through and I am very proud to help them out in any capacity we can. The strength they show me each time I meet them is humbling.