Many of you may be familiar with the Make-a-Wish foundation, but did you know there is a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child? It’s a wonderful organization I’m proud to be a volunteer for, called Icing Smiles. There mission is simple; they grant smiles.
Families can request cookies, or one fun cake per year or a one time dream cake.
Several weeks ago I received a “Call to Action” from Icing Smiles. I had the opportunity to create a smile for Fred. And what an amazing young man Fred is. Actually, his entire family is amazing, warm, caring and loving. You can feel love when you are around this family. The have been at the Ronald McDonald house since Dec and have been on quite a journey with Fred for the past 2 years.
I wasn’t aware of how serious Fred’s situation was at the time of the request. This was a last surgery attempt. They didn’t know if it would work.
You see, Fred has Diamond Blackfan Anemia, a disorder that causes failure of the bone marrow to make new red blood cells. The families hope was to manage the disorder with transfusions which became a normal part of their everyday life. But in Dec of 2010 test results would show this was no longer a viable long-term solution at which point Fred became a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. And so the families journey continued.
What struck me about this family was how warm they were. While I could see the exhaustion in both parents eyes, they both had huge smiles on there face and you could just feel the love. This was the same with their children. There youngest daughter Matilda is 6 years old and was bouncing about the kitchen area. She was full of smiles and had the same warmth of her parents. Mom was hanging up a sign that had been handmade for Fred and Matilda, and Dad was busy meeting guests as they arrived upstairs.
I have been following his story and learned from his videos and email exchange with his Mom that he wants to be a pilot. He also has a love for WWII planes, has a romantic soul and loves the art work on the nose of the planes. He and his father enjoy putting model planes together. So, I created a P-51 B Mustang for Fred, to sit on top of the cake.
The other part of my nervousness was wondering if he would like it, would he know what it was, did I create it correctly? But most of all I was nervous about how would he be feeling. I was told from Icing Smiles its not uncommon for children to not react based on what they are going through, how there day is going or news they may have received from doctors.
I was excited and nervous to meet Fred. The nervous part was whether or not I would cry. As a parent of a 15 year old boy, knowing any child is going through something that is causing them pain just makes my heart hurt for them. I knew he had, had his spleen removed on St. Patricks day and was hopeful his counts were holding strong.
When I saw Fred for the first time, he was smiling. My nervousness melted. He was dressed in a pilot outfit from the movie Planes. He walked up to his cake and immediately knew what type of plane it was. Relief…lol. Fred then walked around the back of the cake where I was standing and grabbed my hand. The warmth I spoke of earlier radiated through his little fingers into my hand. We stood holding hands as he looked at all the details on his cake and asked questions about it. His sister was right there by his side sharing in Fred’s enthusiasm and asking questions as well. But what struck me was the way Matilda looked at her big brother. You can see it in the pictures my husband snapped. She absolutely adores him.
I can’t tell you how many thank you’s I got from everyone there. But I feel thankful for the experience. I’m not sure if the family realizes what a gift they gave me today. They allowed a stranger to share in a milestone for their family and experience the warmth and the love they have for each other. What a gift, and an amazing experience. And that sign that Fred's Mom was hanging up, read "Goodbye Fred & Matilda." That's right, they are going home. Onward and Upward for Fred! I look forward to keeping in touch with this amazing family!