Cheryl wanted a way to “pay it forward”. Cheryl’s inspiration for paying it forward was her daughter Ali. Ali was chronically ill as a child. She developed abdominal migraines at the age of 5. Then in the 6th grade, Ali began to get dizzy and started fainting. This dizziness and fainting was an early onset of POTS. Then in the 7th grade, Ali fell on her knee causing her to develop CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome).
It was extremely hard for Cheryl to find proper medical treatment until she stumbled across TCAPP. Getting a proper diagnoses for Ali and finding the right doctors for her was more than a challenge. This challenge was made easier by TCAPP.
In order to give back to TCAPP for helping her family, Cheryl invested her own time, money, love and sent kids some positivity to kids who had seemingly lost all joy. Cheryl wanted to shine a light on kids bravery and strength. Cheryl recalls the beginning of her journey as, “I first ordered a keychain and sewn items from the Send A Smile gals (from TCAPP) listed on the website and cards made by kids that supported TCAPP. I loved the idea the money was going back to help TCAPP but with the cards, I know some kids like my Ali cannot write or type without pain, and with the beautiful key chains, I knew some kids not old enough for them or not leaving the house with pain/pots/mobility issues. The hand sewn items were extraordinarily beautiful but took time to make and sometimes I would just hear of a kid on RSD (CRPS) facebook group that may be needed some hope or a smile NOW not in a few weeks…”
Cheryl took her time and thought of everything that could possibly bring the slightest hint of joy to a child in a bad position. Cheryl accomplished this goal becoming a major source of joy and light for kids and teens with all kinds of illnesses.
Cheryl even has a dedicated box of gifts inside her home describing it as, “ I always have a gift drawer in the house and just decided it is always best to send those gifts to strangers that needed it rather than keep them for someone’s upcoming birthday when it could always be replaced.”
When Cheryl was unsure of who to send the packages to, she looked to TCAPP for advice. TCAPP would get back to her providing the information Cheryl needed in order to put a smile on a child’s face. At one point, when Cheryl’s daughter Ali was feeling down, Cheryl took Ali shopping with her for a fun package. They looked all around stores bringing joy for kids in pain. They walked around store after store “paying it forward” and making a difference.
Although these people were just strangers, Cheryl and Ali could relate to their situation. This relation made them more like family. Although Cheryl’s movement started out as something small, it transformed into something much bigger.
During christmas and birthdays Cheryl’s family and friends started to bring more goodies for sick kids. Even though they do get extra gifts Cheryl says, “A lot is our own money and we are thankful to be able to afford that. It gives me joy.”
Cheryl’s mission is, “I want to send some love, hopefully a smile. Even though it stinks to be in chronic pain and have dizziness… I just hope to payback and love received forward I guess. Not sure if I can really change a kid’s experience, but hope I can. I know when we started this hard journey, probably back when Ali was in grade 6 and we didn’t know what her dizziness was and I felt powerless, helpless to help her with pain/dizziness, emotions at times so maybe this is something concrete I can actually do to help her (buying her a lipstick ,making her a cup of tea) and others.”
Cheryl’s advice to other mothers is, “Seek out support and always trust your gut. You can tell people, talk about it, spread awareness! Listen to everyone and then do what your gut tells you to do. Be persistent! It took two years to get an IEP status from a 504 with the school but we just “won” that one last week. Don’ t be afraid to “doctor shop”- get your child what they need. It’s not a popularity contest. A lot of people don’t like me/my methods but my daughter is better for what I have done. Be forgiving of yourself- moms are human, and make mistakes too.”
Cheryl used Ali’s strength in order to inspire others and put a smile on a stranger’s face. Every time a package is sent to a child, they feel loved and understood by someone who they may have never even met in real life. It can set ones mind at ease knowing that they are not alone and someone is thinking and caring about them. Through inspiration and Ali’s strength, Cheryl is able to “pay it forward” and put a smile on a chronically ill child’s face.