January of 2011 started off with a painful punch to the stomach. Alex, Maya and Kelly came to take me out for my birthday as they do every year, but this time — a night I have loved annually for years with them (and, let’s be honest, MANY years…) — came with horrific news. Five-year-old Maddie James had just been diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant brain tumor called DIPG [Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma]. Maddie’s mom Kajsa was a childhood friend of Alex’s husband that she quickly became close to and even more so when they had babies at the same time. Back when they were born, I was having my second child and had just moved back to San Diego (from LA) and often headed up to Orange County to crash their play dates that included other long time friends of Alex’s who were also experiencing life with their first child. As a result, my kids and I attended the majority of their first birthday parties, including Maddie’s. And Maddie came to my son’s first birthday which involved his favorite music teacher leading us in songs. Maddie was the hit of the party! She kept jumping up into the middle of the circle, dancing and was adorable! My mom repeatedly asked me, “Who is that little girl?!” Like everyone else who has ever met Maddie, she captured our hearts once again that day. And, it cracked me up that she was the life of party – exactly like her mom.
Although given 6 months to live, Maddie died just 8 weeks later and her parents decided to further capture her legacy by raising 1 million dollars to fund the naming rights to the new Seaside Learning Center at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. They had 4 months to do it.
When Alex helped kick off their fundraising efforts on Breezy Mama, Maddie was capturing hearts all over again. People Magazine linked to her post and The San Clemente Times (among other publications) reprinted Alex’s story.
The tireless work of Kajsa and Collie’s friends and family as well as complete strangers coming together – including so many Breezy Mama readers who donated — was amazing to witness. And the million was raised!
Today The Maddie James Foundation continues their efforts to raise money for other causes and seeing so many open their hearts brings comfort to all who miss Maddie.
As the The Maddie James Seaside Learning Center made preparations to break ground, Alex and I were about to head to our first BlogHer and participate in a flash mob. Since we both work on Breezy Mama from our homes and rarely interact with other people crazy enough to stay up late at night to update their blog, this was a blast for us!
Shortly thereafter, I got to appear with Soleil Moon Frye (a.k.a. Punky Brewster) on HerSay and Alex and I both did a local NBC news appearance. As we sat on the side and watched them do the news live before our segment, I whispered to Alex, “How did we get here?”
Other fun moments for me – a HUGE pop culture junkie – was getting to attend pre-screening of movies in addition to the television events I’ve gotten to attend since Breezy Mama’s first year. Movies?!? Movie stars? I have been in heaven this year!
But my world came crashing down when my bipolar brother not only went off his meds but went missing on October 6. My family couldn’t get the media to cover his story in hopes that it would help with any information to find him and I finally wrote about it on Breezy Mama. As I have mentioned before, this was very difficult for me to do. The love I received afterward was incredibly comforting and I appreciate it so much from everyone. And the very next day I heard from Rick Boone of San Diego Fox News who then covered the story after one of Cameron’s friends got in touch. Then, just two days later, I was on the phone with the San Francisco Chronicle after sending them the Breezy Mama link and they wrote an article about Cameron that night. Local San Fran news stations – the city where my brother was last seen – were soon covering the story as well. Though my brother continues to be missing til this day, Breezy Mama – our little engine that could – once again was able to help during a painful situation.
Thank you for joining us in 2011 as we all journeyed through not only motherhood, but many of life’s challenges. As the year ends, I am incredibly grateful for my family, my friends and having you along for the ride. Thank you!
So just what was read the most in 2011? Here are the top 10 most read posts:
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