Thanks! What I am Thankful For

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it is time to start thinking of what you are grateful for.  I am going to tell you what I am grateful for!  First, I am very grateful for water.  I am grateful because in some places in the world, they have to spend a whole day getting water and in some places the water is dirty!  I am also very thankful for food on my table!  I am thankful for food because some people do no have food!  The last thing I am thankful for is shelter.  I am thankful for shelter because not everyone has a roof over their head!  I am thankful for lots of thinks, and I hope you are too.


Editor’s note: ironically this post was written just days before the tornadoes swept through Central Illinois.  I know Vanessa will be getting involved to help, how will you?  How you Can Helo!   You can help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises by making a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

Wounded Warriors

My mom and I celebrating the USA several years ago at a community event downtown Springfield, IL

Have you ever wondered why our country is so peaceful? I am going to tell you why!  Every day a brave group of men and women go out and risk their life every day so our country is safe and peaceful.  But not all of the soldiers have a great day.  Sometimes the soldiers are in explosions and they lose their legs or arm!  So that is how the wounded warriors project was made.  It helps out the people who were hurt very badly.  It is a great program to help put the wounded back on their feet!  But, the program does need money to help the soldiers.  You can go to their website and help out now for the people who helped out our country. For more information:

ABOUT WWP Founded in 2003, WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

Wounded Warrior Project

B Strong and Find the Helpers

B_strong Note from Vanessa’s Mom.  “It’s especially hard for adults let alone children to process tragic events like the Boston bombings.  As a parent, it’s so difficult to explain these sorts of events.  There is no rationale, no rhyme or reason why some people choose this level of destruction of humanity.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have to process news like this; but my children do.  Newtown CT a few months ago, the movie theater shootings, and now this. Vanessa shares her feelings about Boston in this post.

This is a terrible thing that happened I give my heart to those families who lost a family member and to the families of all who were injured.  When I heard that three people died and so many people were severely injured, I was sad that they were innocent people running the race or watching it.  It’s just not fair!  I think this never should have happened.

Also, it was very scary.  People didn’t know where their family members and friends were and had to wait to reconnect with others.  My mom told me that in times of such horrible loss; one way to ease the pain is to focus on the helpers.

Even in this terrible bombing, it brought out the love of other people to help others. One helper was running to honor military families and when the bomb went off he helped pull down fences and saw helped take a man to put him in the ambulance. This saved that man’s life!  The man who was injured was a hero too because he was right next to the backpack and was able to describe the man who dropped off the backpack with the bomb.  The owner of the boat was very brave to peek in there and then call 911 so the police could come and catch the bad guys.

I know some people are still very frightened. I would recommend thinking of happy thoughts, belly breathing (from my yoga class), and try to keep your mind on something else.  But most of all, pray for everyone and for our safety.

Giving Back on Your Birthday

Dear Central Illinois Food Bank,

Thank you for helping all families that need help.  So I decided to give you a thank you gift!  And here’s my gift!  At my kids’ 9th birthday party I asked everyone to bring a bag or box of food and more.  Then my present to you is the boxes of items!

Thank you!

P.S.  If you want to help, check out their website!

Moving Right Along

Have you ever played a game and lost, not received the grade you were hoping for on a test, or are you having trouble learning how to play an instrument and thought that you should just give upWell, I am going to tell you why you should never give up and follow your dreams. Giving up on something that you just started does not give you time to get the hang of it and see if you like it.Next you should never give up because you might not achieve your dreams like Oscar Pistorius did in becoming the first double amputee to run at the Olympics. 

When you give up you let yourself and people around you down. My dad’s cousin Jenny Rabbitt never gave up when she was told that she had breast cancer and did not have much time left, she lived her life on her terms not cancer’s until the very end. On a lighter note, Kermit the Frog with the help of his Muppet friends never stopped fighting and were able to keep Muppet studios open.  

Sometimes losing a game, not getting the grade you had hoped for or having trouble playing an instrument is part of achieving your dreams. Giving up is not an option, never give up and like my friends The Muppets say… Keep “Moving Right Along.”


Make Every Day Count

The terrible event that happened to Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, CT) made me very sad.  So, I wrote a book about it last Friday night while my mom and sister were watching a movie together.  We were so sad for the children, the teachers, the families and everyone in their town.  The end of my book says “make every day of life count” because you never know what’s going to happen.  I think that you should really help Sandy Hook school and the parents who lost their children.  The teachers were very brave and risked their lives to help their students.

I would try not to be mad at your children and cherish them because you never know.  Also, right now, please pray for those families.  I am grateful for all of the teachers at my school and all of my friends and to be able to celebrate the holidays with my family. Merry Christmas.

Oscar Pistorius A Hero for All

NOTE:  Vanessa wrote this post before the February 2013 incident with his girlfriend.  It was certainly hard for Vanessa to process that her hero was suspected of such a vicious crime.  She took down the poster of him on her front door, but she also wants to focus on the good in people; so we left her original post up.

“You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”  Oscar Pistorius

I wrote “Never Give Up” on my poster of Oscar because he inspires me.  Oscar is a good role model for other kids; he’s a hero.  Even though he has a disability he still became a world-class athlete and competed in the Olympics and Paralympics.

He was born in South Africa on November 22, 1986, and he is 26 now.  He was born without the tibula bone in his leg, and they had to amputate his legs below the knee when he was a baby.  This was done before learned to walk; so when he got his first pair of prosthetic legs he was able to walk on them quickly.

I hope he continues to do well.  He inspires me to Never Give UP, and I hope he does the same to you.

Check out his website.  It has a lot of neat quotes and pictures.






Helping Animals Find a Home

The Animal Protective League (APL) is awesome! The APL will help you and your family find the perfect pet.  The APL adoption hours are every day 12:00 until 5:00 p.m.  You can go there and visit the pets; it’s really fun.

At the shelter you can go to Kitty Corner and hang out with the cats, or you can visit the dogs in their inside or outside kennels.   The APL also has pet adoptions at Petsmart and Ace Hardware on the weekends.   We met our dog at the APL annual chili supper fundraiser.

There are other ways you can help the animals by donating pet supplies or old blankets and sheets, or donating money to buy food.

I think Raymond is happy to have found a loving home!

Our family has adopted four dogs from local rescue groups.  I love helping dogs find a loving home.

How CMN Helps Local Kids- Join our Radiothon!

This is me and my sister at the hospital when I first started going for treatments at age 3

As my other blog post mentioned, I’ve been going to St. John’s Children’s Hospital for five years now.  I was just there yesterday for my regular treatment day.  My favorite nurse Amy put my IV in for me, and I chose a cute Illini football teddy bear in the treasure chest.  I watched a Muppet movie, ate a corn dog and got the medicine I need!  You can help other kids at SJCH by joining their radiothon the next two days!  Call 217-544-KIDS and donate on the phone or online!

This is me with Megan a child-life specialist taping our interview for the Cares for Kids Radiothon.

I got to be a kid reporter this year and you can listen and see how your donation dollars are spent to keep things kid-friendly throughout your stay.  Thank you  Dave and Dina, WDBR 103.7 FM and everyone at Children’s Miracle Network and SJCH for helping kids like me!


What I Learned About Food Drives and Our Local Foodbank

On tour at the Central Illinois Foodbank

I got to tour the Central Illinois Foodbank, and I learned that the food bank is a great resource for people that do not have enough food.  Social service agencies and other groups buy food and give it to people that need it.   They don’t just provide food; they sell soap, sunscreen, hair products, antibacterial gel, diapers, and more.  The cost is between eleven and nineteen cents per pound, and last year they distributed over 8 million pounds of food and supplies!

They also sponsor a kids cafe where kids go that don’t have food, and they can get a hot, fresh dinner every day of the year.  The grocery store is where you can shop around and pick out what you want, and fresh produce is always free because they want people to eat it before it decays.

How to Help: You can help the foodbank by donating food or by hosting a food drive in the community.  I might host a food drive in my neighborhood.  First, I will make fliers.  Next, I will pass out the fliers and brown paper bags to my neighbors and ask them to donate food or supplies.  On certain days, I will collect the bags and have my mom drive me to the food bank to deliver what we received.

This is the scale where they weigh every item that leaves the warehouse!

I will post my sample flier when it’s done so you can make one for your neighborhood too!  Tips for food drives here!