Last Saturday night was the culmination of an amazing community effort for a special little girl named Tiffany Larson. This happy and outgoing 7 year old Peter Kirk student that loves soccer, dancing and horseback riding was diagnosed in January with a medulloblastoma tumor on her brain. It started with a 'whooshing' sound in her ear, which resulted in the tumor being identified on an ear canal CATscan. Things happened quickly from there. Seattle Children's Hospital has been taking great care of her through her surgery to remove the tumor and then six grueling weeks of proton radiation and chemotherapy. Now her little body is regaining strength to prepare for her upcoming year of 8 chemo sessions.
Tiffany and her parents, Nathan and Malia, and her three sisters have been managing to stay strong and positive with the help of family and friends. But everyone wanted to do more for them. This is a family that has always been active in school and the community and reached out to help others, but is now thrown into an emotional tornado. Not to mention, Tiffany's cost of care is staggering towards 7 figures with each week. So a group of moms got together with an idea and approached Nathan. "We'd like to have a party at my house to benefit Tiffany," said Paisley Madison, who has a daughter in Tiffany's grade, "Are you ok with that?" Nathan struggles with this because, he says, "I'm used to being on the other side. I get really emotional about it. This is very humbling."
(thx to Kelley Balcomb-Bartok for the photos)
Paisley Madison, Megan Smiley, Sheryl Vincent, Jonnel Bowser, Rochelle Haberl, Storey Hahn, and Hae Sue Park become the superteam of auction planners that made this event happen with less than one month of planning. Community interest soon outgrew a house party and so they moved the location to The Woodmark Hotel and auction item donations started pouring in. Family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and Kirkland businesses all had something to give for the cause. LWHS students from the Beta Club volunteered their time doing check-in/out, food, and selling t-shirts and wristbands. The super-fun band, Date Nite, volunteered their time as did the rockin' DJ, Mobile Celebrations. Kelley Balcomb-Bartok donated the photography.
Everyone was asked to wear pink or purple since those are Tiffany's favorite colors. There was even a signature Tiffany cocktail. It was purple! But most importantly, there were 175 people in attendance that raised over $20,000 in support of the Larson family. Standing in that room, I could feel the warmth, love and generosity. It was amazing to witness how so many Kirkland people and Kirkland businesses could work together to make some magic happen. I asked Nathan how he felt at the event and he said, "Oh my gosh, I was so wrapped up in my emotions. I wanted to say something that night but nothing would come out of my mouth. We are thankful to live in the community that we do. I don't know how we can ever say thank you to so many people and organizations, but thank you. From our hearts."
If you are interested in contributing to Tiffany's medical bill fund, she has a GoFundMe site. You can also sport a "Tiffany Strong" t-shirt around town if you like (pink, of course). They are $20 and come in sizes youth large- adult 2XL or get a purple (youth) or blue (adult) wristband for $10 to show you are thinking about Tiffany. Email Sheryl for those items at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow Tiffany's progress, she has a Caring Bridge Site under Tiffany Faith Larson. I want to personally give kudos to the very long list of people that participated in this groundswell effort for Tiffany. It says a lot about Kirkland and why it's so easy to love living in this community. #tiffanystrong