I attended Bloggy Conference 2012 from September 27-29. It was such a wonderful experience and I learned so much. I also had the honor of meeting so many wonderful people, and I’d like to talk about one of those people in particular in this blog post — Jessica Ekstrom.
Jessica is the Founder and President of Headbands of Hope — it is a wonderful organization and, for each headband that is purchased, one is donated to a child who has been touched by cancer and, in addition to that, $1.00 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research. She was one of BloggyCon’s sponsors and I, along with basically every other blogger who attended, was sure to get one of the adorable headbands.
I asked Jessica to type up the story and history behind Headbands of Hope. She told us about it at the conference but I thought it would be perfect if you could read it in her own words — it was such a touching story (I honestly teared up when she told us) and I didn’t want to leave out any details.
“Almost everyone can think of a moment where they knew their life was about to change. For me, my moment was right before my 20th birthday in the summer of 2011. I began my internship at the Make-a-Wish Foundation that I can confidently say, changed my life forever. Everyday, I got to wake up and grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. I took day trips to visit the wish kids at their houses and bring them their favorite toys. We received hundreds of letters from wish children that said we changed their lives; little did they know, they were changing mine. One story in particular I’d like to share about a special little girl that made me where I am today…
Once upon a time, we had a wish girl who was a beautiful 4-year-old girl named Renee. Her wish was to go to Disney World to meet her favorite princess, Sleeping Beauty.
Unfortunately, Renee’s cancer took a turn for the worst during Christmas time last year, a couple weeks before her wish. The doctors sent her home from the hospital to be with her family because her time left was short. Since she couldn’t go to Sleeping Beauty, we decided to bring Sleeping Beauty to her. We rented a Sleeping Beauty dress that I wore and I brought her a matching dress, a wand, and a crown with “Princess Renee” written on it. I also brought the sleeping beauty story to read to her. Before we came, her mother called and said she hasn’t opened her eyes in 3 days, but she can hear everything we’re saying.
I arrived in my royal limo to Renee’s house where her mom, dad and two sisters awaited me. I gave them a princess greeting and then went to Renee’s bed in their living room where she was wearing a beautiful pink headband. I sat down on her bed beside her and put my hand on her shoulder, so she could feel that Sleeping Beauty was there. I started to read her the story of her favorite princess (my biography I called it) and she opened her eyes and saw Sleeping Beauty sitting with her on her bed. The family cried as I said, “I remember when I woke up after a hundred years!” trying to stay in character.
That time with Renee is a moment I will never forget. The doctor said she wasn’t going to last to Christmas, but she lived a week after that until we got a phone call from her mother saying Renee had passed away. However, her mother said Renee was buried in the dress, crown and wand that Sleeping Beauty gave her. Her mother said she was more at peace with Renee passing because she knew she got what she always wanted, to meet Sleeping Beauty.
At this moment, I knew I had to start something new and fresh to help these kids. I thought of Renee and the headband she wore, and all of the other girls I met who wore headbands when they were battling cancer. After a couple thinking sessions with a pad and pencil in Starbucks…Headbands of Hope was born.
For every headband purchased, one headband goes to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research. Visit www.headbandsofhope.org to see our lovely collections.
Together, we can spread hope in all girls…one headband at a time.”
– Jessica Eckstrom
If you would like to purchase a headband (or two or more!), I really want to encourage you to visit Headbands of Hope‘s website, which can be found here: Headbands of Hope’s website. You can also find Headbands of Hope on Facebook: Headbands of Hope’s Facebook Page.