Healing Arts
Projects > Blood Drive Kindness Project

By Jana Vorhis
Alyssa Brooke's Mom

Fourteen years ago, my daughter, Alyssa Brooke, changed my life forever. An abruption put Alyssa and me in need of blood. While I relied on strangers from the blood bank storage for blood products, Alyssa relied on our family and friends for transfusions. Ten years later, my son, Christopher was born premature. Once again, we called upon our family and friends to donate blood. I am happy to say that at age 3 ½ Christopher is strong and vivacious!

Since becoming a facilitator for the MISS Foundation, hundreds of families have shared their stories. Each story is unique and certainly has a personal impact on me. To quote Dr. Gary Reece, a clinical psychologist, noted author and trauma specialist, " You have your story, I have mine and together we have 'Our' story…"

Last year, one of the families I spoke with became part of my story. Though I never met her, Rachel Ann Hage has changed my life. Her grandparents are the most loving, kind people I have met. During her short life, Rachel needed platelet donations necessary after chemotherapy. It takes longer to donate than whole blood and requires more donors. Every donation given to Rachel increased her chances of surviving that day. Every sacred moment counted to Rachel's family. Rachel ended her battle with brain tumors on April 29, 2000, eight months before her 5th birthday.

Our Riverside, California MISS Foundation facilitator, Mia Hong's daughter, Vanessa, was in the NICU and needed blood. Unable to donate her own blood, Mia learned the importance of giving blood. Vanessa became an inspiration and the reason Mia joined MISS A dedicated mother, wife, volunteer, and nursing student, she also advocates for families enduring the death of a child. Her own health faces the possibility of a major organ transplant. Her courage and strength are an inspiration.

After receiving a plea to help Braedon Peltier, I knew I must do something. The precious six-year-old continues to receive treatment for his brain tumor and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, Braedon lives in Arizona and I cannot donate to him directly.

These are some of the stories that became the inspiration for this very special Kindness Project - Giving Life in Memory of a Life. I began by calling Mary Holzer, the NICU Parent Connection Coordinator at Huntington Memorial Hospital. Many families in the NICU are in need of blood and blood products for their newborns. With blood supplies at an all time low, it seemed perfect timing. Mary put me in touch with Diane Kennedy, Blood Donor Resource Coordinator for Huntington. Diane was receptive, supportive and helpful. Together, we planned the Statewide Kindness Project.

Diane and I had several conversations on when the Blood Drive should take place. And how long it should last, a day, a week or a month. We both agreed that if we hosted the blood drive for an entire month, it would allow donors to make an appointment when it was convenient for them. The month of July seemed appropriate since it is the month Cheyenne was born still, to Joanne Cacciatore-Garard MISS Foundation Founder and creator of the Kindness Project.

Shortly after beginning our Kindness Project planning, The National MISS Foundation and Joanne got involved. Working together, we have been able to arrange this widespread movement to honor the children who lived, who died, and who, even in death continue to matter. Bereaved families can empower themselves through the Kindness Project and movements like the blood drive to proactively heal through positive self-help strategies. We welcome you to join us.

If you participate in this National Blood Drive, you may send a S.A.S.E. (self addressed stamped envelope) to:

MISS Foundation
Kindness Project- National Blood Drive
P.O. Box 5333
Peoria, Arizona 85385

10 Kindness cards will be sent to you. Make an appointment with any Blood Bank or Hospital that has a Blood Center to make whole blood donations or platelet donations. After your next donation, leave one of your Kindness Cards with the name of the child you are honoring. You can get 9 other individuals to do the same…or do 9 other random acts of kindness in memory of the child you are honoring.

Please see the MISS Kindness Project page for full information about project history, ideas, and other stories!

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