Our first cystic fibrosis-related fundraising gala was in 2016, and I cried the whole night. I felt a range of emotions -- from sorrow to heart-bursting joy. Not only did I find myself in a room of dedicated, inspiring people, but there were also excellent speakers who told moving stories. Needless to say, it was just a lot for this new mommy to handle (Avalyn was just over a year old and it was all so "fresh" to me). I got especially emotional when one of the speakers requested that all CF mammas stand to be recognized.
Obviously, I lost it. I was standing there among women who had been fighting this disease for their children a lot longer than I had -- some of whom had even lost their kids already -- and people were clapping for us as equals.
That same night, we became friends with Alyx and Tommy Danger. Tommy, the founder of the More Than Just Me Foundation, was auctioning the chance to design a flag that he would carry to the top of a mountain. It would be the fifth of seven summits for the “More Than Just Mountains” campaign, which raises funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis.
We bid hard for that flag, but we were eventually beat out by another family. I looked at my husband and said, "Next year, that flag is mine."
So, that brings us to 2017 and last year's gala. When Tommy's flag went up for auction, I went at it with all I had. It was an intense battle, and I won! After we were declared the winning bid, Alyx Danger came running over and gave me a giant hug. You could not have taken me off the cloud I was on that night.
My next challenge was to design the flag. What would I want at the top of that mountain? Avalyn is too young to have an opinion of what to put on the flag, so I couldn't ask her. My husband didn't want to weigh in, as he wanted it to be my creation and something I could be proud of putting together myself. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized one thing was for certain: I wanted Avalyn's face up there. I wanted her sweet, dimpled smile to reach high above the clouds ... her very first mountain.
So, I started with my favorite photo. Then, I added the meaning of her name: beautiful breath of life. But it still didn't feel complete. I really wanted my daughter to gain something important from this ... something that would last a lifetime. But what?
I considered Tommy and his More Than Just Me Foundation, and suddenly, I knew that my wish for her was to feel emboldened and supported. I began looking for verses, quotes, anything that would make a heart swell and elate. What I landed on was Dr. Seuss. After tweaking and customizing it for Avalyn, I settled on the following:
It's wider out there in the wide-open air,
and wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best,
wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
You'll move mountains, Avalyn,
and you'll do it with flair.
Today is your day,
your mountain is waiting,
so get on your way.