DiversityNursing Blog

St. Baldrick's Breaks Record For A Good Cause

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 02:49 PM

By MATTHEW FAHR

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Barber chairs moved like turnstiles as people from all around the area came to the Romeo Lions Field House to show their support for those fighting cancer.

Volunteer event organizer Michael Fiscus said the Romeo event broke its own record, and is currently ranked fifth nationally for funds raised during the St. Baldrick’s Foundation event.

“It was more crowded than it has been since we began in Romeo,” said Fiscus. “We had wall-to-wall people from 1:30 to 4 p.m.”

In a show of support for children who are enduring the struggle of dealing with cancer and its body-ravaging effects, St. Baldrick’s asks people to show their solidarity with those young souls by shaving their heads.

They came out in force to Romeo with the event currently tallying $317,000 raised to date.

Fiscus said he expects that number to rise as people donate after the fact, pledging donations to those who took part in the event.

Last year, the event raised $302,000, with another $30,000 being donated in the days and weeks afterward.

“In the next few weeks we will be collecting cash that was donated and collecting sponsor matching funds, as well as new donations after people see what their friends and family did for St. Baldrick’s,” Fiscus said.

When the event began six years ago, 18 people shaved their heads and Fiscus raised just more than $14,000 to donate to the foundation, which is dedicated to raising money for life-saving childhood cancer research, and it funds more in childhood cancer grants than any organization except for the U.S. government.

Last year, 525 people shaved their heads.

Fiscus said this year more than 500 people sat down in barber chairs to change their image by shaving their heads, but he said donations went up even with the dip in “shavees,” as he calls them.

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He said 16 people were also “knighted” for being involved for seven consecutive years.

“The number of folks returning was high this year,” said Fiscus. “The word is out there, and those who started with us and helped bring in others are back themselves for a good cause.”

With 25 barber chairs and an average of 10 minutes per haircut -- which may have felt like a lifetime for some first-timers -- the Lions Field House did steady business through the day and brought people into downtown Romeo at night as haircuts were done upstairs at Younger’s Tavern until well into the night.

“I think by the time I packed up and was heading out of town, it must have been 11:30 p.m.” Fiscus said. “A lot of people had a good time.”

Fiscus took time out of his chaotic day to look around at those making such a sacrifice for a loved one or friend.

“It can be so moving to see someone commit to something like that,” he said. “You can tell who the people are who are doing this for the first time and the look on their face, but afterward they are proud of what they did.”

He said 90 percent of donations this year for the Romeo event were done online, and donations will continue to be taken all year online at www.stbaldricks.org/events/romeo/

Romeo currently ranks fifth nationwide in event donations, a goal Fiscus was aiming for at the start of this year.

“That is the achievement I am most proud of,” he said. “We are still in fifth today and I don’t know how long we will be there, but being there right now is such an honor.”

Source: www.macombdaily.com

Topics: volunteers, health, cancer, patients, treatment, cure, donations, St. Baldrick's Day

The Benefits Of Horse Play

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

By Jodie Diegel, BSN, MBA, RNC, LNCC

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Laura* is severely disabled, but when she spent time with Lunar, her caregivers at Little Angels, a non-profit skilled nursing facility in Elgin, Ill., witnessed something they had never seen. Laura began to move her fingers back and forth. Lunar is not a doctor or a therapist, but a 6-year-old specially trained miniature therapy horse from the Northern Illinois-based non-profit organization Mane in Heaven that I started in 2012. Mane in Heaven specializes in animal-assisted activity and therapy visits. Our horses visit with people with physical, mental and emotional challenges ­— from people with severe disabilities to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer.

Laura’s reaction was no surprise to me. We witness this type of reaction all the time when Lunar — with her chestnut brown coat and blonde eyelashes and her gentle demeanor — or one of her fellow mini-horses meet our clients. I recall another visit between a young man who was blind and disabled and Turnabout, a 3-year-old mini-horse. Turnabout is the only boy in the bunch and has the biggest personality. When the young man put his hands on Turnabout’s face, they obviously made a connection because the man laughed exuberantly again and again. 

It brings us joy to see the light, laughter and hope our minis provide to people experiencing profound illnesses or disabilities — not to mention that these visits can lead to improved physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

I remember when the idea of working with mini-horses came to me. I was surfing the Internet one evening in December 2011 after volunteering with my two therapy dogs, Buffet and Dudley, when an advertisement caught my eye. “Mini Therapy Horses for Sale,” it said. I thought, “I have two big horses, so I know horse behavior, and I’ve done a lot of obedience training with my two therapy dogs. I can train mini-horses to do the same thing that Buffet and Dudley do.” 

But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Two months later, I had established a volunteer board of directors, including founding board member and friend Dina Morgan, RN, and had acquired three mini-horses — Lunar, Turnabout and 3-year-old Mystery, our smallest horse. In 2013, 2-year-old Jenella joined the group. 

Mane in Heaven volunteers and mini-horses began site visits in June 2013, and since then our volunteers and horses have visited with thousands of people in need. We have relationships with numerous providers and non-profit organizations in the region, including Marklund, a home for infants, children, teens and adults with serious developmental disabilities; Gigi’s Playhouse, which cares for children and adults with Down Syndrome; Wings, which advocates for survivors of domestic violence, as well as homeless women and children; JourneyCare, which specializes in palliative medicine and hospice care; and Rush University Medical Center, a premier hospital located in Chicago. 

A site visit usually lasts up to two hours and involves an exchange of unconditional love between the horses and our clients. People watch, pet, brush, hug and take pictures with the minis. Rather than thinking and talking about themselves and their problems, our clients focus on the animals. When our horses visit a care facility, the residents laugh and interact more, are mentally stimulated by the entertainment and are able to recall personal memories more readily. 

When Corin Garcia, 19, from Palos Hills, Ill., met Lunar at a Mane in Heaven visit at Rush University Medical Center, it changed her whole perspective on her pending treatment. Corin told me it was a day she dreaded more than anything — admission day for “four tedious, boring days of chemotherapy,” she said. But Corin’s attitude changed when her she met Lunar. “I was in an awful mood, yet when two miniature horses walked through the door my mind cleared all its negative thoughts and my heart instantly melted. Being around these beautiful creatures made the worse day turn into the best I have ever had in the hospital.”

Mane in Heaven does not charge for visits; we rely on donations and fundraising, so fundraising is important work for our volunteers. Interest is growing in our services, thanks, in part, to media coverage by CNN, the Associated Press, and local media outlets. Having the support of volunteers helps us to maximize donations, but we hope to find others who believe in our mission and will also support us financially. While our horses are tiny, there are still significant expenses associated with running our organization. One day we’d love to open our own therapy center and acquire more horses, so we can serve more people. 

Running a nonprofit business is challenging while also working full time, but I really never feel like this is work for me. While I may have had the vision for Mane in Heaven, our volunteers have made it a reality. We have a group of amazing and generous volunteers who help special horses help special people. Everyone has challenges in their lives, but whether we are with the minis at training sessions or on visits, we always feel happier and joyful after some “mini love.” We are the privileged ones to be on the other end of the rope.

Source: http://news.nurse.com

Topics: health, hospital, health care, RN, hospice, treatment, nurse, nursing, medical, cancer, doctor, non-profit, mental, emotional, well being, mini horses, volunteers

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