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My First Six Weeks with Connor’s Heroes

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A Message from Celia

As Poppy would say "This is what it's all about"

For those of you who I have not yet met, I am Celia Tetlow. Six weeks ago, I started as Executive Director of Connor’s Heroes. While I am new to this role, I am not new to the organization. Eight years ago, I decorated a hospital room on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit as a volunteer for Connor’s Heroes. A three-year-old girl was about to call this room home for the foreseeable future. As I picked out unicorns, rainbow-themed decor and everything pink, it clicked. I was hooked. I wanted to be a part of the hero community who provided hope, guidance, and support for children and their families battling cancer. Now, as Executive Director, I have the honor of advancing the mission of Connor’s Heroes. These first six weeks have been an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much about our brave heroes, their dedicated medical staff, and you!

My second week here culminated with the 8th annual Heroes Art Ball. Wow, what an amazing evening! I always look forward to the “Live Auction” and this year did not disappoint. I watched Maya take her gorgeous mosaic table on stage, and sweet Jaiden proudly show off his octopus painting. Abigail couldn’t believe her Koi Pond painting went for thousands of dollars! They were proud to take the stage in honor of the other children who are on the same journey. Our heroes were the true stars of the show!

I attended the ribbon cutting of VCU's newly expanded pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). The PICU is big news for our families and for Richmond! The expansion makes it the largest PICU in the region. During his remarks, Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR, personally thanked Connor's Heroes for our good works. It was a great afternoon meeting the nurses and doctors who continue to provide the best care for our children.

I spent a day with Erin, our program coordinator. Erin is the “face” of Connor’s Heroes. She knows each family and offers the programs that will help them best without overwhelming them. I made my way down to clinic to join the Connor’s Heroes volunteers who make arts and crafts with our kids while they wait for their appointments. Then I went to the pediatric inpatient floor. In collaboration with CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation, every Thursday, you allow us to serve a healthy lunch to all the patients and caregivers on the floor. Throughout the day, I met a number of our brave hero families and heard more about their journey with childhood cancer. They were all so appreciative of Connor’s Heroes which warmed my heart!

As I reflect on the past month, I know that we are making a difference in the lives of the families who need Connor’s Heroes. Our programs find ways for kids to be kids, provide an extra hand in time of need, and make sure a family’s stay in the hospital feels more like home. I can’t do it alone. You will help and guide me. I am reminded of my “Poppy” and a quote that he would frequently say, “This is what it’s all about.” I think it’s very fitting for Connor’s Heroes. Connor’s Heroes is about our community of heroes helping children who need it the most. It is about you taking part in this amazing organization. This is what it’s all about.