Thursday, March 30, 2017

We're Thankful Too

We’re sorry, but the whole point of this post is to let you know that we’re going to stick to “it”! Thanks to you, we’ve been able to expand a bit and reach new locations. A lot of those places, as well as places that we’ve partnered with before, have been extremely impressed with your cards.

We try to tell our different partners, “it’s OK, don’t worry, you don’t have to take the time and pay for postage to send us the thank you cards”, but as you can see, that hasn’t been working over the years!

Your cards are just too valuable, and they often feel the NEED to say thanks! It started to get so many that we actually created a separate album on our Facebook page that shows just the pics of the Thank You cards, Thank You Messages. That album only includes the pictures of the cards; that doesn’t include the emails, WhatsApp messages, phone calls, or other ways different partners are saying thanks! But if you take a closer look at the notes, a lot of them are addressed directly to us. Some may think, ‘why are you showing off and posting all of those?’ In our minds, those thank yous should actually be addressed to you and here’s why.

As we always say, Every Card Counts, and that even includes the cards that are made by our team and during some of our events. Overall 391 cards have been made during Cardz for Kidz! events. To put that in perspective, that’s less than Capital One’s 2000+, but we’re still in the top 25% of the 100+ groups. For more background, when we agree to partner with a hospital they “pinky promise” to deliver all the cards room to room and we “pinky promise” to get them a set amount of cards at least once a quarter. So if there are some quarters where we’re a bit short on cards, then some of us behind the scenes may have to start making cards. Or, we hold broad events where we’re trying to spread the word and spark some fundraising. 

The way we see it, the staff at the hospitals, shelters, schools and/or homes aren’t thankful that we searched Instagram hashtags to find new groups to partner with, they aren’t ecstatic we were able to complete our Federal 990N form on time all by ourselves, or even that we modified our website and/or wrote blog posts. They’re thankful for the AMAZING homemade cards that we’re able to send them on a consistent basis. 

Now, if you compare the chart above, to the chart on our Donate page, you’ll see that while our production of cards has been decreasing, the total amount of cards we’ve been sending has been drastically increasing. Based on your consistent help, just like the hospitals WE’RE THANKFUL TOO and we’re sorry we’re not able to express it more! Please keep up the amazing work! 

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Purple Pride

Hi, my name is Ike Nwankwo and I’ve had seizures…I have epilepsy.

Well, that was another tough admission for me. However, this one was a bit tougher than the prior blog post in which I had to blow my cover about launching Cardz for Kidz! because we’d missed some of our goals—see Secret’s Out. If you look at that post, and the next one, you’ll see that I have opened up before about my brain surgery. But when you read those two blog posts or if you happen to sense a common theme throughout anything where my personal story is the focus, I often refer to epilepsy strictly in the past tense.

I recall even after having my brain surgery, and being on a multitude of medications, that I would always tell myself that I didn’t have epilepsy. I’d always think I simply had “pre-seizures,” not the full grand mal seizures—so it’s different! With that in mind I could sympathize with—but not fully relate to—the children on the 19th floor at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; the children Cardz for Kidz! partners with at the neurology units at Akron Children’s Hospital AND University Hospitals-Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital; and all the children I connect with on Instagram via hashtags such as #seizuressuck.

You might want to say, “Ike, stop lying. You’ve had a grand mal seizure AND you’ve even watched a recorded episode.” My response would simply be, “See, what had happened was…” But being 100% open and honest, here's the story of that trip in the hospital. Due to my declining health and the fact that the meds weren’t working, my new doctors decided I needed to have an updated in-patient EEG. During that week, they took me off all my medications in order to trigger as many seizures as possible. When I’m in tough situations, my response is either to laugh or to cry. My tear glands were on strike that day, so all I could was laugh and tell jokes; thankfully, I quickly bonded with all the nurses and staff in charge of my care since we were all laughing. A bit later there was a big blank spot in my memory. Later my nurse (and "friend") came in; she told me I “had a bad one” and then asked if I wanted to watch it. I agreed and watched myself have my first-ever grand mal seizure. On that tape I saw my mom, who was in the room, stand up and run over to me in fear. My response as I watched myself was: “See what had happened was, I wasn’t on any medications. So, I don’t have real epilepsy like the children I volunteer with.”

Honestly (and my sincerest apologies to our friends at @elijahs_fight on Instagram), I was being completely selfish and that’s why I didn’t share the picture below on the Cardz for Kidz! Instagram account. I figured since there was some concern about how my epilepsy would have impacted my previous job, I should hide my condition while searching for a new position. [Side note: I hope Elijah’s enjoying himself with the angels.]

Then again, these days, there’s no room for excuses. I’m currently employed and the University of Michigan Health System plans to write a blog post about my medical condition. Still, I modified some of the Instagram posts that directly focused on my epilepsy/seizures.

Original version:

Cardz for Kidz! version:

Although there are other Ike Nwankwos out there, I still felt the need to modify their words and remove my last name—due to another (earlier) post stating, “Ike Nwankwo wrote Jaxon a very special note about how he had #seizures and to stay strong!” I should be proud that it’s helping uplift children.

In light of Epilepsy Awareness Day being Sunday, March 26th, I’m going to be even more open. Being brutally honest with you, I’m definitely not thankful to have this condition; however, I’m proud that so far I’ve been able to overcome it, in addition to the progress I’ve made in all aspects of my life.

I recall back in high school I used to play football; at the end of practice, or after different games, we would huddle up and get hyped together. Being one of the varsity team’s captains, I oftentimes got to lead our chant(s). How it worked was I, or another leader, would shout “PURPLE!” and everyone else would yell “PRIDE!” That’d go back and forth, back and forth until we broke it down and celebrated together. Even though all of us with epilepsy aren’t gathered in one place, wearing the same uniform, I believe we should all still proudly proclaim “PURPLE PRIDE!” since we’re effectively overcoming this neurological disorder. My name is Ikedichi J. Nwankwo and I am proudly overcoming epilepsy!

All week long I wore purple and I’ll definitely wear purple during my volunteer shift at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago this Sunday, March 26th—in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Day.

Also, if you look closely at this picture, you’ll see my love of homemade artwork and working with kids is nothing new!!!

FYI - purple for epilepsy similar to pink for breast cancer.

To see more pictures and stories, please check out our; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos onYouTube!